Acer and Microsoft Partner to Take on Chromebook in the Classroom

Posted on January 28, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 3 Comments

Acer and Microsoft Partner to Take on Chromebook in the Classroom

Acer and Microsoft revealed this week that they have collaborated on a new Windows 10 laptop aimed at the education market. Dubbed the TravelMate B117, this new laptop provides unique interactive features that are ideal for the classroom.

Aside from the specifics of this device, it’s worth noting that Microsoft’s quiet partnership with all of the major PC makers has, over time, resulted in a set of very interesting PCs that provide a level of reliability and stability—and a lack of crapware—that was previously only the province of the Signature PCs that are sold through the Microsoft Store. This is a very welcome development, and as this Acer model shows, it is starting to impact all market segments.

So this Acer.

The Acer TravelMate B117 looks like a typical laptop, though it features a ruggedized frame and spill-resistant keyboard in a nod to the education market. It’s an 11.6-inch device with Pentium or Celeron processors, up to 4 GB of RAM, and HDD or eMMC storage. So nothing spectacular, at least at first glance. But the B117 comes with Windows 10 Pro and includes a couple of very unique features that set it apart from the pack.


Key among them is what the firm calls its Acer TeachSmart technology: An LED light embedded on the lid can flash in different colors. This is controllable by students, who can toggle between four colors to indicate their status. And then teachers in the room can easily keep track of where all the students are in a project or task.

Here’s how Acer explains this.

“For example, teachers can post multiple-choice questions to the entire class. After students select their answers on the notebook, the LEDs will light up in a corresponding color to indicate the answers they have chosen. Alternatively, students can toggle the LED light after they have finished an assignment, and teachers can monitor the progress of the whole class simply by looking at the students’ notebooks. The LED light can also replace traditional hand raising, signaling the need for attention to the teacher. In addition, teachers will also have a user interface that displays the total status, such as the number of students that have finished their assignments or the breakdown of multiple choice answers.”

TeachSmart also features an “integrated cloud solution” that utilizes cloud-based OneNote notebooks and Microsoft Account-based sharing. “Teachers can distribute class material and assignments and stay informed of each student’s progress, eliminating the need for hard copies,” Acer notes. “The system keeps teachers and students connected not only in the classroom, but away as well, with customizable features to fulfill the individual needs of different teachers.”

According to Microsoft, the B117’s unique functionality is a response to feedback it received from educators and students. (No doubt prompted by worries over Chromebook gains in education.) “Students and teachers told Acer was that they needed longer battery life, a rugged and yet compact design to withstand the classroom setting and a device that was great for wireless sharing,” Microsoft notes.

The B117 also includes 802.11ac wireless with 2×2 MIMO, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, and a full-sized HDMI port with HDCP support. Both firms are cagey on pricing, since it will vary by region, but Acer hilariously recommends that your “contact your nearest Acer office” for more information. My guess is it will undercut Chromebook pricing.


Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (3)

3 responses to “Acer and Microsoft Partner to Take on Chromebook in the Classroom”

  1. alfredjohnson

    Great initiative. I think Acer and Microsoft-both will become loveable to the students for taking this useful decision of collaboration. Both the company is going to set an excellent example to the corporate world in term of contribution to education. I personally like Microsoft products as they help me lot in my writing. For writing on, I always go for Microsoft product like one drive for storing my content. I hope, this initiative will increase the craze of both companies to the students and teachers.

  2. tyreecewilley

    Such a great think to know.

  3. andreasparker

    This collaboration will be successful and students will take benefits from this collaboration. While the design of Acer TravelMate B117 seems more stylish and comfortable as well that allow the students to grab this laptop very easily. However these laptop are also comfortable for Writing companies that provide resume writing service in the world because these laptops are smart, handy and affordable for them that can help them to increase their productivity.