Intel’s first Classmate PC followed in the footsteps of Nick Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child XO PC by being a similarly cheap, robust portable PC intended for educational use. Last year Intel upgraded the specification to the Classmate 2, but it’s taken until now for a machine to surface. It’s produced by CTL and it’s essentially a pretty snazzy convertible tablet format netbook with a built-in carrying handle.
Inside there’s a 1.6GHz Atom N270 with 1GB of RAM, a 60 GB hard drive and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. The display’s an LED-lit 8.9-incher with resistive touchscreen and 1024 x 600-pixel resolution, there’s also a fully rotatable 1.3-megapixel webcam and the 6-cell battery gives it about 5 hours of run time. It’s compact and looks pretty ruggedly-constructed, and weighs in at just 2.9 pounds.
In fact the only disappointment of the XP-running machine may be that it’s selling for a high $550 per unit.
In comparison, Asus’ similarly-specced top-end Eee 1000H netbook is not a tablet PC, but it’s selling for around $480. And buying one of the OLPC XO PCs for $399 gets you a machine and provides another identical one to a child in the developing world under the Give One/Get One program. The hardware specs aren’t quite up to the Classmate 2’s, with a slower processor, smaller memory and heavier package–though it does have the unique Sugar OS aimed at education.
Of course, you’ll most likely be buying CTL’s Classmate 2 PC for your own uses, rather than worrying about it’s adoption in the developing world.