Seven iPad alternatives for schools

CDI keeps cost down, caters specifically to schools with new Unobook

CDI Computers Inc. has made its name by becoming North America’s largest seller of refurbished computers to schools—but now, the company is staking its claim in the new tablet market with an offering designed especially for schools, the Unobook.

“We understand that the tablet is going to play a big role in education, and we don’t have the option for refurbished tablets,” said Erez Pikar, chief operating officer for CDI.

Pikar explained that, because there is no significant volume of tablets coming out of corporate leases, there are not enough used tablets to refurbish.

Instead, CDI decided to create a completely new tablet that differs from competitors’ offerings in that “it’s designed for the classroom environment. It’s not a retail device that’s been pushed into education—it was designed from the ground up for the classroom,” Pikar said.

He added: “We worked with 70 respected educators to design [a tablet] directly for the classroom, hitting the right price, hitting the right type of rugged screen, the right battery life, the right casing.”

The Unobook, which runs on Android 4.03, has front and back cameras, an 8-inch LCD screen, and a battery that can be recharged for up to 7,000 hours of use.

CDI has kept the Unobook’s price down by designing the product itself and selling direct to schools to cut overhead costs associated with wholesaling, distribution, and retail. Each Unobook sells for $297 individually, with discounts available based on volume.

In June, CDI sent demo models to interested schools. About 220 school districts have requested to see demos before they place larger orders, Pikar said.

“When you get the education version of the iPad, you’re getting the same device you’d get at Best Buy with all the same hardware,” said Pikar. “When you buy the UnoBook, what you’re getting is a half-price device that is much better fitted for that space.”

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