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Some new Chromebooks at BETT

Fancy a new Chromebook? There were lots on offer at BETT this year. If you are after touch-flip devices, the main manufacturers were all sporting new Gemini Lake Celeron based devices. All based on the N4000 chip - this gives them all an Octane score of around 16000. Much better than we have seen from entry-level devices before.

The first one - the Dell 3100 2-in-1


I liked this one - seemed pretty rugged. However, Dells support has been pretty poor in the past....
The next - HP X360 G2
Other than being blue - it looks much like the current X360. This model had 8Gb of RAM. My favorite of the 4 new 11" flip devices. 
And from Acer - an updated Spin 511

Pretty similar to the current Spin - just faster with the N4000 chip. Acer was making a big thing about their new reliability pledge. If it fails in warranty - they fix it and refund you the cost of the device. They have some ground to make up on the reliability front - so I can see where this is coming from!
Lenovo was outing their u…
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First AMD based Chromebook from HP - the HP Chromebook 11A G6 EE

I had a chance to have a brief spin with one of the first AMD based Chromebooks the other day (thanks to Ian Nairm and C-Learning) at BETT, the HP 11A G6 EE. This device uses the AMD A4-9120C APU and the quick benchmarks I managed run set this Chromebook a bit above the current G5 and G6 EE's from HP and perform better than the HP 360 G1 and Acer Spin. 
In terms of physical appearance and connectivity - it much the same as current gen HP 11's and similar "clam-shell" Chromebooks. The model I looked at was touch screen and the screen folded 180 degrees.
It's not as good a performer as the new Gemini Lake Celeron based Intel devices. They seem to be hitting around 16000 on a quick Octane Benchmark (all I had time to run). However, they are more expensive. However, the graphics performance did seem good - webcam was responsive and high-resolution video was smooth - the Radeon R4 Graphics clearly helping here.
It's good to see lower-end Chromebook performance no…

Simple Sign in System

This is a brief demo of how to make a sign in system using Chrome Sign Builder, Google Forms and a Kiosk mode Chromebook.

Fast, Cheap Chromebox on a budget

We have some ageing Haswell based Chromeboxes from HP, Asus and Acer. These boxes go end of life in terms of ChromeOS updates in less than a years time and while we can keep them going for a while - they will rapidly age after support ends. So our options are as follows:
Buy new Chromeboxes - the basic ones are around £200. They have the advantage they run Android apps. However, the base model is only slightly faster than our current models. To get better performance you need to get the i3 model at >£300.Hack Cloudready onto the old Chromeboxes. We have done this to some older Samsung Chromeboxes and it works really well - but its a lot of effort!Buy refurb ultra small form factor PCs and install Cloudready.  So we tried the third option. The device we went for was the HP 8200 Elite Ultra Slim - i5 2400S, 8Gb DDR3 for £90 on eBay. We added a 60Gb SSD (had some spares) and installed Cloudready and enrolled on the domain.

The result is a very quiet, fast Chromebox that seems to work r…

Acer Spin 13 Chromebook - a quick look.

A few days ago I got to try an Acer Spin 13 Chromebook. This is a high-end device - in the same price bracket as the Pixelbook. The one I looked was going to be priced around the £800. For this you get:

8th Gen i3 8100 processor16 Gb RAM64Gb SSD13" touchscreen 2256x1504 and touch flip format 
I ran a quick Octane benchmark and it scored a decent 33000 (my Pixel 2013 does around 21000).

To use its similar to the Pixel 2013/15 - same aluminum case and quality finish. The Pixelbook is a much more luggable device if that's what you are after. So it's basically a fast, touchscreen, high-resolution Chromebook with a price to match. It feels well built and the keyboard was responsive - a nice machine.

Would I buy one? Probably not. For school, the price is way too high and I manage just fine on a regular 11" Spin. As a private buyer, I currently have an Acer R13 Chromebook that does everything I need (not as fast) and cost less than half the price. I also have a Pixel 2013 r…

Adding subdomains to G Suite

This is how I add subdomains (so basically new schools) to out G suite setup. I've got these steps documented on a scruffy set of notes that I've now got in Keep - so time to document them - for myself as much as anyone else!

Steps in order (roughly)

Add the new domainVerify the new domainAdd MX records to hostingAdd SPF record for Google to hostingTurn on email authenticationAdd DMARC record to hostingSetup custom Directory and restrict students OU to this.Create an admin quarantine for the domain.Configure SPAM setting for the domain.Turn on and off services as appropriate.Map a blank Google Site to the naked domain - if required.Setup some basic groups - allstaff, allusers (for directory) and students with appropriate permissions.Deploy custom wallpapers. So the steps in a bit of detail: Add the new domain & Verify ownership Click on Domains in the admin console:
Add/remove domains followed by "add a domain" At this point make sure you select the second option. …

Chrome GPO updates Oct 2018

I while back I published this blog post about locking down Chrome. The first two policies in that article have now been depreciated and replaced. This quick video covers what has replaced them and a couple of new policies as well.