Archos jumped into the edutech market on Monday with the launch of four new tablets and laptops. With screen sizes ranging from 9" to 14", Archos will have most students' needs covered.
To start, Archos is launch a pair of 9" and 10" tablets which will be offered with a school's choice of either Android or Windows 8.1 running on a quad-core 1.8GHz Intel CPU. The tablets will come with 2GB RAM, 64GB internal storage, weak cameras (VGA, 2MP), detachable keyboards, and a promised battery life of over 8 hours.
Archos also unveiled an 11.6" Chromebook and a 14" Windows 8 laptop today. These laptops will also have a quad-core 1.8GHz Intel CPU, but they'll have just the single VGA camera. The Chromebook will have 2GB RAM and 64GB internal storage, while the Win8 laptop will have 4GB RAM and 250GB internal storage. They're also listed as having 8 hours of battery life, but I'll believe that when users confirm it.
According to the press release, the 9" tablet will sell for about 200 euros (excluding VAT) while the 10" tablet will be priced at 250 euros. It's not clear how Archos plans to square the cost of a Windows license for the 10" tablet (the license is free for tablets 9" and smaller), so I would not be surprised if that particular tablet cost even more.
The Chromebook is going to sell for 250 euros, while the 14" laptop will cost 300 euros. All the devices will come with a two-year warranty, and schools will also have the option of extending the warranty for a third year.
Schools will also have the option of choosing the software which is preloaded on the devices, and Archos is also promising to offer tools which will make it easier for schools to manage a fleet of tablets and laptops after they've been issued to students.
Schools will find more information on these topics in the education section of the Archos website, which is going to launch in March.
All in all, none of the devices strike me as anything special. Unlike similar products from Dell, Intel, and HP, the Archos devices show no sign of a rugged design. that does not bode well for their survival tates once they've been issued to students, but Archos doesn't see any issue.
The devices launched today as Archos' contribution to France's "Grand Digital for Schools Project". This project seeks to issue 50,000 tablets and laptops to middle and high school students by the end of 2015, and expand that figure to more than 1 million devices issued each year from 2016 onwards.
That's an ambitious goal, but it's not clear whether France has cleared the logistical, financial, or technical hurdles inherent to such a large project.
As we've seen from the LA school district's iPad debacle, passing out tablets to students is a heck of a lot more complicated than simply signing a contract and waving your hands at the complications.