Intel's refreshed Convertible Classmate PC's never going to be your everyday laptop, but it's more than equipped to be your kid's. And it may be showing up in his or her school before you know it.
Essentially, what Intel announced today is a refresh, bringing their 2008 Classmate Convertible's performance up to par with your standard netbook. That means an Atom 450 processor under the hood, 160GB HD, listed 8.5 hours battery life and a 10.1-inch 1366x768 displa, along with the same rotating webcam as the previous iteration. Then you throw in some kid-friendly features, like a water-resistant screen, keyboard and touchpad, HDD shock protection and an improved ruggedised exterior that can withstand a "desk-height" drop. There's also a handle, for easy toting.
While the enhancements are certainly welcome, they don't quite help the Classmate bridge the gap into general use. The touchscreen is resistive, with no multitouch - a consideration that makes it easier for students to use a stylus - and there's no Bluetooth support, because that's not kid-essential. All that's fine, though; Intel and its OEM/software partners clearly haven't designed this to be a crossover product. And when a bunch of primary schoolers took the devices around the Central Park Zoo today, the only audible complaint was when they had to give them back.
The applications of which the Classmate is capable - today we saw a neat drawing app, a plug-in weather sensor and some fun Lego partnering - are terribly impressive, and I'm jealous I didn't have them when I was growing up. The main drawbacks seem to be the $US499 price tag and the weight, which might be a bit much for extended field-trip use.
The Convertible Classmate updates announced today may not be sweeping or revolutionary. But they do demonstrate Intel's continued commitment to the project, and solidify the device's leadership position in the education space. Next step: fixing up that time machine so I can learn about penguins on this thing, too.
Rugged Convertible Classmate PC Design Moves the Way Kids Do
Latest Intel-Powered Convertible Classmate PC Offers Durable Design
for School Children Around the World
· Supported by local computer manufacturers, Intel unveils the latest Intel-powered convertible classmate PC design.
· The new convertible design is more rugged and flexible, providing school children around the world with custom-built technology to help advance education.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 26, 2010 – Intel Corporation today unveiled the most flexible and durable Intel-powered convertible classmate PC reference design yet. Supported by local computer manufacturers which are part of the Intel® Learning Series, this new addition combines aesthetics with ruggedness, full PC functionality with enhanced e-learning capabilities and improved performance with energy efficiency.
Building on the success of the clamshell and convertible classmate PC designs, Intel and the Learning Series' members provide classrooms around the world with a custom-built solution for primary school education.
Featuring the Intel® Atom™ processor and a 10.1-inch LCD monitor, the new convertible classmate PC includes increased memory and storage to run education applications that help students excel in their studies and build skills for the future. The new design can change instantly from a clamshell to a tablet PC, allowing students to naturally switch form factors as they move between activities and locations in the classroom, an observation that Intel ethnographic researchers have termed "micro-mobility."
"Our ethnographers have spent countless hours understanding how technology can help school age children here in the U.S. and around the world build the skills required for the future," said Kapil Wadhera, acting general manager of Intel's Emerging Markets Platform Group, which developed the Intel-powered classmate PC reference design based on ethnographic research. "At Intel, we believe that education has the power to transform the lives of individuals, villages, cities and nations, and we understand that technology is one of our greatest tools to advance education around the world."
Built to move the way kids do, the new Intel-powered convertible classmate PC features a touch-screen with a user interface optimised for eReading applications, water-resistant keyboard, touchpad and screen, improved ruggedness with drop test from desk height, bump and scratch resistance surfaces and structures, and an optional anti-microbial keyboard. In tablet mode, the "palm rejection" feature ignores the touch of hands resting on the screen, allowing students to write and draw intuitively.
In addition to being powered by the power-efficient Intel Atom processor, the new classmate PC features a rechargeable battery with up to 8.5 hours1 of battery life so students and teachers don't have to worry about plugging in. It also includes integrated wireless connectivity with WiFi and provides the options of 3G, GPS and WiMAX for easy network and Internet connections.
More than 300 vendors – including hardware, operating system, software vendors and enterprise solutions providers – are developing applications, peripherals and services optimised for Intel-powered classmate PCs as a part of the Intel Learning Series offering. This cost-effective, end-to-end solution will be brought to students by an extensive network of local OEMs including CTL, Equus and M&A in the United States, MDG in Canada and local OEMs in Australia, Argentina, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, in addition to Benelux region.
For additional information about the Intel-powered classmate PC, including photos and videos, visit the press kit at www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/classmatePC. Additional information is also available at www.intel.com/intel/worldahead/classmatepc and www.intellearningseries.com.