Educational environments can be challenging places to install and maintain computers, though they have become essential components in the modern classroom. Lenovo’s ThinkCentre Chromebox 10H3 is tailor-made for the job.
This desktop PC is fast enough to run most applications, and its Chrome operating system keeps programs up to date automatically — plus, the IT team can lock it down so that users won’t be able to (accidentally or purposefully) install malicious or unauthorized software.
A speedy 2-gigahertz Intel Celeron processor runs the tiny 2-pound unit. Given that the OS barely taxes the processor, there’s plenty of power to drive the online tools, which will likely see the most use.
The 10H3 makes quick work of Google Docs, so it’s an ideal collaboration platform when several students need to work together on the same documents or lessons.
Multiple browser windows also don’t tax the device by much. Even with 15 windows open during testing, the power drain was never more than 25 percent. I also tested the unit using Office Online and Gmail, and both worked flawlessly.
During testing, I tried to throw it a curve by streaming high-definition video, but its Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, combined with 4 gigabytes of SDRAM, managed just fine with the integrated Intel HD graphics. The wireless 802.11ac interface delivered similar streaming results.
The unit is surprisingly flexible, providing four USB 3.0 ports for peripherals, double what users typically find with most Chromebooks. With one port likely taken up by the included keyboard, that leaves three free for integration into almost any classroom setup. One USB port remains always powered, which enables charging for other devices.
At less than $300, the price is good for a Chrome-based unit with a 2GHz processor. Although there’s no monitor, the 10H3 comes with both a DisplayPort and an HDMI port, so it can connect to just about any modern display.
Computers in the classroom need to provide educational benefits to students while also being hassle free. The 10H3 fits that role nicely, requiring little management or real estate. It can even be hidden from sight, if needed, keeping the focus on learning and teaching, not on the technology.