Amplify, the education tablet company headed by Joel Klein, the former chancellor of public schools in New York City, announced a new tablet and pricing model today.
The company, backed by a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. makes a namesake education tablet that includes educational software and management features for teachers and administrators.
Designed for the rough and tumble of K-12 classrooms, the Amplify tablet runs Android 4.2 and includes ruggedized bumpers that also prevent the display from hitting up against a surface when it’s placed with the display side down. It’s also water and scratch resistant.
Also included is a stylus tethered to the device which also has a storage slot to keep the stylus on board.
Working with Intel, the design borrows from the chip maker’s reference design for an education tablet though with some important additions.
Specifically, it includes a dual-core, 2 GHz Intel Atom processor (Intel’s reference design features a 1 GHz Atom processor) and dual-band dual-antenna (2 x 2 MIMO) WiFi radio to boost connectivity within the school. It also has front and back cameras.
“We realized that, while we’d built the world’s best platform for mobile learning using anyone’s content, we needed to come up with a device that was ready for the physical demands of the school environment,” said Klein. “That’s exactly what we’ve done with this new tablet.”
The new tablet is a redesign of last year’s model that will be available this summer for teacher training in time for the start of the 2014-15 school year. Recommended pricing is $199 per tablet per year which includes educational software, lesson planning tools and support. The company says if schools could opt to buy the tablets outright, but Amplify encourages the lease option which includes everything in one package.
Stephen Smyth, president of the Amplify Access division which develops the Amplify Tablet System, said it’s been designed for use both in the classroom and for use at home.
“We’ve anticipated that students will want to take the device home and we’ve designed in a variety of features for use both at home and in transit,” said Smyth. Among other features he noted the Amplify tablet includes a safe web browsing filter and an app white list of apps authorized for download.
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Fixing hardware issues
Last spring Amplify announced a deal with Guilford County Schools in North Carolina to deploy 21,215 10-inch Amplify tablets in the 2013-14 school year as part of a $30 million deal. But that distribution was suspended when one of the power supplies was reported to have partially melted.
Amplify said in a press briefing today that it had the issue thoroughly tested by an independent lab that determined the issue was caused by “an external source” and is confident it’s been resolved.