For those who prefer a high-tech classroom, Panasonic, along with Intel and Microsoft, has created a purpose-built computer for the K-12 education market. It won’t keep kids stuck in the classroom, however. It’s extremely portable, even having a carrying handle, and is intended to be brought out into the field to look at things in nature and study the world.
“Anywhere, anytime learning for the student-centered classroom.”
The Panasonic 3E Convertible 2-in-1 is a useful tool for students. (The 3E stands for “Engage, Empower, Enable,” which mirrors my educational philosophy completely.) It is a fully functional Windows 8.1 machine. The keyboard is small enough for students’ hands, but large enough to accommodate them as they grow. The detachable 10″ tablet works well on its own, and can also be turned around and reattached to the keyboard, allowing for tablet use while keeping all the pieces together. The tethered stylus is easy to use, nestles securely, and charges in just 20 seconds while in its nook. Use it to tap, draw, take notes, etc. The computer comes with educational accessories, such as a temperature probe and a magnifying glass, the latter of which snaps into the rear-facing 5MP camera to allow students to see things up close.
This thing is certainly built for education. Between the accessories and the machine capabilities (such as the gyroscope, magnetometer/accelerometer sensor, cameras, and microphone) and the installed software, kids are encouraged to explore. On their own or under a teacher’s guidance, students can use these devices for almost any school subject. Lessons in science, art, multimedia, research, and more are easy to expand using the 3E.
From the press release:
Designed from the ground up for the K-12 market, every aspect of the 3E was conceived to encourage inquiry-based learning, to boost engagement and nurture analytical skills that will help students succeed in STEM subjects. The device is also able to alleviate teacher anxiety by empowering them to deliver personalized learning for students while maintaining whole group instruction.
This isn’t just a case of putting technology on top of learning. These machines are designed with learning completely integrated, and they encourage students to use their imaginations, using computers as a tool for learning. The machines will expand students’ learning environments and opportunities, not restrict them.
The tablet’s touch screen is especially useful for kids, who need to explore and dive into their content. Whole classrooms can use these devices, and they are also able to integrate into a larger classroom system.
The machines are spill- and dust-resistant, and are extremely durable. They can withstand a 70 cm drop. You know your kids will drop this thing, and bang it around. Panasonic made sure it would withstand that kind of use.
The devices have a variety of I/O ports on the side, protected by a door, and the tablet can keep a charge for eight hours. The keyboard can extend that time three additional hours.
The software included on the machine is useful for many educational purposes:
- ArtRage Studio – Plenty of options for art creation.
- Foxit Reader – A multi-format ebook reader in which students can also make and name their own bookshelves within the program.
- Kno Textbooks – This comes with a few samples, but is designed to be used with textbooks that you purchase, or have access to through school.
- Lab Camera – With this program, students can use the magnifying glass, do time lapses, do kinematics, use the motion cam, or treat it as a microscope, universal logger, pathfinder, or graph challenge. With the magnifying glass, students can put something directly up to the glass. They can then save or print photos, plain or with measurements on them.
- Media Camera – This program allows students to make media, either in Presenter or Recorder format.
- SPARKvue – Software to run something akin to Power Point school lessons, from what I can piece together. The computer also comes with a “Folder for Experiments” which includes several example experiments, including ones that demonstrate how to use the accessories. Students interact with the pages to complete assignments.
What did I think of the Panasonic 3E?
I liked it very much. My 13-year-old daughter took to it right away, making herself at home and experimenting with all of the functionality. We tried things mundane and unusual, and determined that it’s a pretty solid product. It’s the kind of thing that I would choose for my kids to use in our homeschooling: fully functional computers that aren’t at all restricted by location or purpose.
Some observations of note:
- If you don’t get the tablet portion clicked into the keyboard portion well enough, the tablet can fall out. Make sure it clicks in well.
- Since you have to open the I/O port cover to plug in headphones as well as anything other than the AC adapter, we worry that the hinge will wear out quickly.
- Some of the keys are a bit small, but that’s a good fit for students.
- The keys are a bit slippery.
- There are two vertical line/slash keys. This extra key makes the left shift key a bit small for my taste.
- The tether for the stylus seems to get in the way a lot, whether the computer is opened or closed.
- The slot in the tablet that holds the stylus is pretty secure, so confident users could consider removing the tether.
- It’s a good idea to have a pouch for the magnifying glass and the temperature probe accessories to protect them and keep them from getting lost. Use a big enough one, and the AC adapter will fit as well.
In summary, the Panasonic 3E 2-in-1 convertible computer is a well-matched choice for students, at least through middle school. Whether your school system invests in the whole Panasonic Education shebang, or just several units for students, these are solid machines that will take what kids throw at them. Since they are Windows machines, they are completely compatible with systems that are already in place.
Note: GeekMom received a unit for review purposes.