Dell Chromebook 5190 review: A solid choice for students and educators

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The Dell Chromebook 5190 series is a robust and solid choice for an education environment.

NAILED IT
  • Robust build quality
  • Super battery life
  • Rugged for rough use
  • Spill-resistant keyboard
  • Decent display
  • Good performance
  • Made with students in mind
  • Great pricing
NEEDS WORK
  • Chunky uninteresting design
  • No backlit keyboard
  • Screen brightness could be better

Chromebook 5190

Google’s Chrome OS has become a powerhouse in the classroom. With a combination of extremely affordable hardware and education-friendly software, it’s easy to see why. Not only can schools afford to arm their students with these affordable devices, they can also live nearly worry free when it comes to maintaining them. The Dell Chromebook 5190 and Dell Chromebook 5190 2-in-1 are Dell’s newest offerings for students, educators, and classrooms. Read on for our full review of the Dell Chromebook 5190 series of Chromebooks.

SPECIFICATIONS

The Dell Chromebook 5190 and Chromebook 5190 2-in-1 sent to us have the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Celeron N3450 Processor (Quad Core, up to 2.2GHz, 2M Cache, 6W)
  • RAM: 4GB 2400MHz LPDDR4 Non-ECC
  • Storage: 32GB eMMC (16GB and 64GB eMMC options available)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
  • Display: 11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare Non-Touch, Camera & Microphone, WLAN Capable
  • Sound: High-Quality Speakers
  • Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7265 (802.11ac) 2×2 + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, MicroSD Memory card reader, headset/mic combo jack, Noble Wedge lock slot
  • Input: Single pointing non-backlit keyboard, multi-touch touchpad
  • Webcam: Integrated webcam with microphone
  • Battery: 3 Cell 42Whr Battery
  • Power Supply: 45W AC Adapter, USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 0.82″ x 11.96″ x 8.19″ (20.75mm x 303.9mm x 207.9mm)
  • Weight: 2.82lb (1.28kg)
  • I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen1
    • 2 x USB Type-C
    • Noble Lock
    • MicroSD card reader
    • Headphone/Mic jack
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
  • Dell Chromebook 5190 or Chromebook 5190 2-in-1
  • Power adapter

VIDEO REVIEW

DESIGN

We received both the Dell Chromebook 5190 laptop and 2-in-1 for this review. Both machines were configured with the same specifications with only minor (and obvious) design differences between them. First, let’s get this out of the way: the 5190 is not going to win any beauty awards. These machines are husky and robust devices that are built more for using and less for looks.

That makes sense since these Chromebooks are intended for use by students and educators. It also makes sense to make something that’s industrial in look and feel making it less desirable to steal. From a consumer standpoint, this pair would likely not win the hearts of millions. But from the point of view of an IT professional within a school, this is what they want to see.

Chromebook 5190

Laptop and 2-in-1 versions.

There isn’t much to see on the top and bottom save for the Dell and Chrome logos and the speakers at the bottom. The whole Chromebook 5190 is constructed of durable, robust, and high-quality plastics. It’s solid in the hand and weighs in at nearly 3lbs, with the 2-in-1 going over the 3lb mark.

Along the left side of the Chromebook 5190 you’ll find a USB-C port, USB 3.1 port, MicroSD card slot, headphone/mic jack, and on the 2-in-1 the power button. Along the right side, you’ll find a USB 3.1 port, USB-C port, Noble Lock, and on the 2-in-1 the volume rocker.

When you open up both the Chromebook 5190 and 5190 2-in-1 you’re greeted with the 1366×768 HD display. The camera is on the top edge of the laptop while the 2-in-1 houses a second camera just above the keyboard. This allows you to take pictures while in tablet mode. One thing of note, the laptop bezels are made of plastic while the 2-in-1 is made of glass because of its tablet capability.

The keyboards and trackpads are identical, save the lock button on the 2-in-1. The keyboards are comfortable to type on with a fair amount of travel but not too deep. The trackpad isn’t the best, it has some drag but for the price that’s not unexpected. These machines are built for students and for students who make heavy use of them. So we unleashed our 7 and 9-year-old students on these Chromebooks to put them to the test.

Chromebook 5190

Keyboard and trackpad are decent for this price.

Normally I’m a stickler for taking extreme care of my electronics and my kids know this. This time I told them to just use them not to think of them as daddy’s laptops. They used the Chromebook 5190 devices for school work, artwork, YouTube, and general scenarios. I am happy to report, aside from fingerprints and some dirt, both machines survived the kid test.

Overall, the Chromebook 5190 series isn’t designed for looks or fashion. They’re designed to be robust, rugged, and survive a few thousand kids over a few years. While I am not a fan of the looks, this isn’t really a device for consumers like me. Dell has a demographic in mind and it’s built a solid device that should be able to handle the environment they’re aiming for.

DISPLAY

The HD display isn’t the best looking on the market but it is functional and will get the job done. This isn’t a shiny, vibrant panel that is made to make 4K HDR movies look stunning. It’s made to help kids get their school work done and in that capacity, Dell put exactly what it needed in these Chromebooks and nothing more.

Chromebook 5190

Not horrible displays but not super awesome, just okay.

Colors are good, not popping off the screen, but good. Blacks are decent and whites are acceptable. Brightness is okay, though it could be better. This is one thing that I think students could use, a brighter screen for outdoor work.

Overall, this device is meant mainly for school work, Google Docs, email, research and the like. It’s not really made for entertainment so this display is exactly what most students will need, nothing more.

SOFTWARE/ECOSYSTEM

The Chromebook 5190 runs Google’s Chrome OS which has gotten very popular with schools all over the country. The OS is easy to maintain and no anti-virus software is needed. Since the students will be accessing most everything from the cloud, there’s nothing that needs to be on the laptop itself, making it a breeze to administer.

Not only are Google Apps and services part of the Chromebook ecosystem but the Chromebook G Suite for Education is as well. Chrome OS has also grown by adding Android app support for some apps making it more versatile. For school IT admins, Google offers up the Google Chrome Management Console. This allows IT admins to keep track of their school’s Chromebook inventory and administer updates and other things.

Chromebook 5190

ChromeOS is great for students.

The Chromebook 5190 2-in-1 also comes with an optional stylus which is great for using with Android drawing apps.

Overall, Chrome OS is a fairly straightforward OS to use. It’s based on the browser experience and cloud services so most people should be able to just jump right in. Kids today are used to the browser experience which is another plus for schools using Chrome OS.

PERFORMANCE

Our review units came with the max 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, remember, most storage you’ll do will be cloud-based. There were no issues running basic school apps, logging into school websites to complete homework assignments, saving to Google Drive, or even watching YouTube and Netflix. Everything ran smooth as can be.

We covered durability in the design section as our kids tested these without taking care. One thing I didn’t mention was the spill-proof keyboard. Thankfully, we didn’t really test this on purpose or by accident. We’re going to take Dell’s word for it and assume the keyboard should be able to take a minor liquid spill and be OK.

Overall, the performance is spot on. This isn’t unexpected from Chrome OS as it is much lighter than Windows 10 or Mac and doesn’t need as many resources to run.

Laptop

SPEAKERS/SOUND

The speakers were decent, not the best but this is an inexpensive Chromebook. They are down firing at the bottom of the laptop, which is a normal placement these days. I think they could have fit them somewhere else considering how much real estate there is on these machines. Downfiring speakers are almost as bad as recording video in portrait mode.

Overall, these speakers will get the job done but you should wear headphones for the best possible sound, should that matter to you.

CAMERA

Both the Chromebook 5190 laptop and 2-in-1 have webcams, which are your standard fare and nothing special. The 2-in-1 adds in a second camera you can use to take photos. This is housed in the keyboard but really, tablet photo taking isn’t exactly attractive. My guess is, most students won’t even notice that camera is there.

Overall, the webcams are okay, they do the job for webcams. The second camera on the 2-in-1 is just okay but I don’t suspect most will care.

2-in-1 has two cameras.

BATTERY LIFE

Dell claims 10-hours of battery life with both of these devices. We surpassed 10-hours a few times but averaged just around 9.50-hours of battery life. Pretty spot on and excellent.

PRICE/VALUE

The MSRP on these starts at $412USD but Dell is always running specials on their Chromebooks. For example, you can get the model priced at $412USD for $289USD on Dell’s website right now. The MSRP prices seem a little high but from what I’ve seen, the list prices are usually much lower. I think there’s a ton of value for students and educators with the Dell Chromebook 5190 lineup.

WRAP UP

Made rugged and robust for students and educators, the Chromebook 5190 series is an excellent choice for parents looking for an inexpensive laptop/tablet for the kids. It’s also a great path for institutions to get more laptops in the hands of students. School IT admins will love the ease of administering these devices and they will love how robustly built they are. It will not only save time and effort but money and frustration.

(techaeris.com, http://bit.ly/2LgvIoQ)

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