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Dell's ruggedized Latitude 13 laptop was designed to take abuse from kids

Dell may have just released its first Chromebook, but that doesn't mean it's counting on schools to make the switch to Chrome OS. The company just unveiled another education-focused laptop, and this time it runs good old-fashioned Windows. All told, the new Latitude 13 Education Series is cut from the same cloth as Dell's business-y Latitude line, except it was built to withstand abuse from careless little children. In addition to meeting the military's MIL-STD specification, it sports rubberized edges, a Gorilla Glass screen and a spill-resistant keyboard, along with a hinge that can fold back 180 degrees without snapping. In addition, the 13-inch notebook has a discreet LED indicator at the top of the lid shows internet connectivity -- a handy way of telling if kids did as they were told and took a break from Facebook during class.

Given that this was designed to be used by children as young as kindergarteners, the entry specs are, as you'd expect, fairly modest. The Latitude 13 will start at $399 with a Celeron processor and no touchscreen, though you could, if you wanted, add a touch panel and go all the way up to a fourth-generation Core i5 CPU. Other options include 2GB to 8GB of RAM; a regular, hybrid or solid-state drive; and a four- or six-cell battery. What's nice is that even a mid-specced $599 model with a Core i3 processor comes with a generous three-year warranty. And, you don't have to be a school district to get one; there's nothing stopping you from buying one off Dell's site. So, if you're a parent looking for a cheap, durable laptop for junior to play with, this could be a very nice deal indeed.