What you need to know
- Dell is giving its popular 3100 series a third configuration option almost two years after it first launched.
- The Dell 3100 Chromebook with LTE is the same Chromebook released in 2019, just with support for AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon LTE.
- It's still a Celeron N4000 processor with 4GB of RAM, and there's only 32GB of storage.
If you went looking for a ruggedly handsome little Chromebook last year, you probably saw that the Dell Chromebook 3100 and 3100 2-in-1 were back-ordered for more than half the year. Considering the Dell 3100 is one of the only 11.6-inch education Chromebooks to have an 8GB RAM option, it was one to seek out for the extra RAM for distance learning and lots of video calls. While it's rare for an almost two-year-old Chromebook to still be this popular, Dell is certainly milking it for all its worth, giving us another 3100 variant for those who need a compact, durable Chromebook with LTE connectivity.
The Dell Chromebook 3100 with LTE is exactly the same as the 2019-launched Chromebook 3100 that earned a spot in Best Chromebooks for Students, inside and out, except for one thing: instead of two USB-A ports, you get one USB-A port and LTE connectivity. You can use the Dell Chromebook 3100 with LTE on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, and there's also a global unlocked version to use in other markets, though individual band listings were not included with the spec sheet.
Unfortunately, you can't get the 8GB RAM upgrade with the LTE version: you're locked into 4GB of RAM and 32GB of memory, and there's no microSD slot here, either. I understand that adding LTE in the same size laptop usually means a trade-off in one area or another, but if you're going to launch an LTE Chromebook in 2021 for distance learning and working remotely, chances are the people who are going to use it will pay an extra $50-$100 for upgraded RAM and storage. You also still only get an AUE date of June 2026, same as the original 3100 rather than getting a 2028-2029 AUE date like most models launched in the last year.
Pricing for the Dell Chromebook 3100 with LTE will be announced closer to its launch this spring, but considering the non-LTE 3100 Education will run you $269 at Dell's website, I'd wager the LTE version will cost you $330-$400.
Made for the real world, but priced above the classroom
Dell's 2019 education Chromebook is still one of the best around if you need something that can take a beating and has plenty of ports for peripherals. If you can afford the upgrade, I highly recommend getting the 8GB configuration for extra RAM so it can handle multi-tasking during video calls better.
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