Reviewed by
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

Well it’s that time of year again. No, we don’t mean Christmas, we are referring to Teaching for Learnings (T4L) time. You know, the time when your school gets its allocated points and decides what to purchase for next year.

This year schools will be able to select desktop computers, monitors, notebook computers, wireless access points and tablets. Along with Lenovo, Acer and Apple, Dell has joined the vendor list.

Currently the only vendors supplying tablets are Dell and Lenovo so with the increased use of mobile devices in classrooms we thought that we would have a look at the latest offerings.

Lenovo is offering the Miix 2 11. It comes with an 11.6 inch LCD screen, Core i3 1.5GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD hard drive, Windows 8.1 and a keyboard-only dock. The Miix 2 11 is 1.25 points in value. Dell offers the Venue 11i. It comes with a 10.8 inch LCD screen, Core i3 1.5GHz processor, 4GB RAM, 128 GB SSD hard drive, Windows 8.1, an active stylus and a soft-key folio keyboard. The Venue 11i is 1.5 points in value.

How do the tablets compare? We had a little trouble when it came to finding information on the Lenovo Miix 2 11. Despite our best efforts the only information we could find was on the 8 inch Miix with the Atom processor. We couldn’t even find the model on the Lenovo website. Perhaps more information will be released shortly to schools.

When it came to the Dell Venue 11i it was a different proposition. We know that it comes with a Haswell i3 processor and 5GHz wireless so it should easily connect to both DER and eT4L networks.

Perhaps more importantly it comes with wireless high definition video (Miracast) and near field communication. Both of these will become much more important in the very near future. For the classroom, Miracast will mean that the tablet will have the ability to connect to a suitable wireless interactive projector and display information from the tablet onto the board while still remaining connected to the school’s wireless network.

Near field communication will make it easier for the tablets to exchange information. These two protocols have the potential to change how we work within the classroom as well as making life much easier for teachers.

The Dell Venue 11i also comes with a swappable battery and a Micro SD card slot. Now you will be able to take the SD memory card straight out of the school’s camera and insert it into the tablet and work on the images without having to download them to another computer.

The Dell Venue 11i comes with an 8 megapixel (MP) rear camera and a 2MP front camera. Both are capable of capturing, streaming and playing back 1080p (high definition) video at 30 frames per second (fps).

We would suggest that all schools looking at tablets invest in at least one docking station.

Dell has a productivity dock for about $150 that includes three USB 3.0 ports for connecting keyboards, mice, flash drives or other peripherals. It also includes an RJ45 port (to connect to the wired network) and a full sized HDMI and DP ports which means that your Dell Venue 11i tablet is capable of supporting two displays.

Now the decision about what to choose with your school’s T4L points has just gotten harder.

Bill Gillespie teaches at Elanora Heights PS and Rosemary McDowall teaches at North Sydney Boys HS. They can be contacted at