Schools get more mobile tech choice with keyboards and pens from ‘the LearnPad people’

Schools reluctant to follow others down Apple’s iPad route have been vindicated by far greater choice and value for money — and that now includes £200 10.1-inch Windows 10 tablets with affordable keyboards and digital pens.

Avantis, the innovative company behind the low-cost Android LearnPad tablets with eponymous management system for schools and ClassCharge wireless charging racks, has launched a groundbreaking ‘Workbook’ tablet with two important features that stand out from those available to users of most iPads — integrated clip-on keyboards and pressure-sensitive digital pens.

The high-resolution Workbook tablet, which is also available as a standard Android LearnPad) costs £199 and that price includes a digital pen worth £20 until the end of July. These are cheaper than Microsoft’s own digital pens – around £50 – for the popular Surface 3 tablets that have helped spearhead the push of Windows tablets into schools.

The Workbook shares the same dual appeal of the Surface as a flexible tablet or a fully functional laptop. But its £200 price point, cheaper keyboard and digital pen and bulk wireless charging options (via an optional case with ClassCharge) make it an extremely attractive proposition for schools.  

Affordable keyboards and pens increase the appeal   

The optional detachable keyboard costs just £30 and features a full set of 105 soft-touch keys. Like Microsoft’s own keyboards, these have been cleverly designed to connect via a simple, efficient magnetic interface. No batteries are involved and there is no Bluetooth connection to set up.

The smooth active stylus is pressure sensitive and opens up possibilities for note taking, drawing and design and the ability to do mathematical formulae by hand. This can only increase the appeal.

Then there is Avantis’ ability to bring in tailored management systems to help schools with control of devices and crucial safety concerns. ClassConnect has been very successful for schools using its Android LearnPad tablets and now th is will be extended to support the new Windows Workbook.

Huw WilliamsHuw Williams; 'high quality'Avantis marketing director Huw Williams explains: “We’re excited to be working with Microsoft and Intel to offer schools such a high-quality device at a very competitive price. The Workbook offers the best of both worlds with all the functionality schools are used to with their laptops but also the added benefit of tablet flexibility to undertake more create activities within the classroom. Additionally, we are bringing some of our most popular classroom management features of ClassConnect over to the Windows platform.” 

Apple first led the tablet revolution in schools, but many felt the product was expensive, difficult to manage effectively, and not easy to integrate with other technologies in education environments. Avantis quickly scored success with its LearnPad range of Android tablets. They have helped earn the company numerous awards. And it has increased offerings to schools with innovative flat-panel screens and ClassCharge charging units that integrate well with the tablets and bring considerable savings. This success has helped make Avantis a successful exporter of learning technologies. 

Rare blend of innovation and low cost extended to Windows  

Avantis WorkbooksAvantis Workbooks in action: specifications compare well with more expensive tabletsThe availability of Windows 10 has meant that Avantis has been able to extend its (unusual for this market) knack for combining innovation with budget prices to another platform. The possibilities this brings are very attractive for those schools already working with Windows. Many of them have education licences for Office365 that bring licence extensions for teachers and pupils and their families too so they can use Office 365 on a range of devices (with online storage) free of charge. 

The specifications for the new Workbook compare well with tablets that carry far bigger price tags. They feature Intel quad-core processors, high performance AC wi-fi, front and rear cameras, high definition display, 32Gb of on-board storage and access to the ClassConnect portal (Android only so far) for device and classroom management and collaboration.

The new keyboard also features an integrated trackpad that does away with the need for a mouse (although one could be plugged in to the tablet’s full-size USB port). It’s also a screen cover and a stand, offering multiple viewing angles depending on whether it is being used for typing, reading or just browsing.

The crucial task for Avantis is to get the message out to schools, particularly those that are feeling an increasing pinch on their budgets. Huw Williams adds: “The Workbook gives both primary and secondary schools another option to a standalone tablet like our award-winning LearnPad or the iPad.

"Being a detachable device it meets a multitude of needs within the classroom and is a great way to reduce the pressurised IT budget with its reasonable price. With the ever-increasing complexity of school technology infrastructure, particularly at secondary school level, the Workbook’s Windows operating system also enables schools to easily integrate the device into their organisation.”

More information   

Avantis Workbook
Intel Quad-Core Processor (1.4Ghz), 2Gb RAM and 32Gb internal storage,operating system Windows 10 or LearnPad custom Android 5.1, stereo speakers and integrated microphone, 10.1-inch IPS high-resolution screen (1920×1280) 10-Point multi-touch with toughened glass, dimensions: 259mm x 167mm x 9mm, weighs 578g, 5 megapixel auto-focus rear-facing camera with 2 megapixel front facing camera, full-size USB port, micro USB port for charging, micro card slot, 3.5mm stereo line In/jack out for headphones, 802.11 ac dual band Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, 8,000 mAh Lithium-Ion battery, £199 (including free digital pen until end of July).
Accessories: robust protective case with wireless charging via ClassCharge £25; clip-on keyboard £30; pressure-sensitive digital pen £20.

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