While the Samsung Chromebook 2 costs more than its predecessor ($319 instead of $249), it features enhancements in both design and performance, the company says. The original Chromebook will still be available to schools as well.

The Chromebook 2 uses the same “stitched” design found in Samsung’s Galaxy Note line of tablets, and it includes a faster processor. It also comes with 4 GB of RAM (instead of 2GB) and offers eight hours of battery life, up from 6.5 hours. An optional software value pack includes an English learning app to support multilingual students.

For $399, schools can buy a Chromebook 2 with a larger screen (13.3 inches instead of 11.5 inches) and a slightly longer battery life—up to 8.5 hours, or two full hours longer than the battery life in the original Samsung Chromebooks.

“As schools are migrating to true one-to-one deployments, the devices are following students home—so battery life is very important,” said Jen Langan, director of mobility product marketing for Samsung Education.

Acer is doing its part to boost Chromebook sales as well: The company is giving educators the chance to pilot Chromebooks to see if the devices are right for their schools.

K-12 educators can apply for this program online through April 15. If accepted, they must take part in a short conference call with Acer about their use of Chromebooks in the classroom. Then, they will receive an Acer C720 Chromebook to evaluate for 30 days.

At the end of the trial period, and after another short call with Acer to discuss their experience with the device, participants in the pilot program can return their Chromebook and owe nothing—or explore opportunities for long-term use with an Acer representative. Only one application per school will be accepted.

In December, Dell announced a new Chromebook for education. The Dell Chromebook 11 features an 11.6-inch screen and what Dell claims is up to 10 hours of battery life. A 4GB version went on sale last month, and a 2GB version will be available later this spring.

Follow Dennis Pierce on Twitter at @eSN_Dennis.