Hands on with Intel’s New Convertible Classmate PC

DSC06411Today we got a hands on with the second generation Classmate PC from Intel and Intel’s Learning Series. We also were offered some interesting insider information that probably will surprise you.

So here are some fun facts before we go into the meat of the new Convertible Classmate PC:
•    The original Classmate PC has sold 2 million units worldwide
•    Portugal is the leader in acquiring the most Classmate PC’s with a whopping total of 500,000 units for their kids in grades 1st, 3rd, and 4th grades, and now there is a push to get 5th and 6th graders Classmate PC’s as well.
•    Argentina and Turkey are a close second and third to also introducing just as many Classmate PCs into their schools.
•    Intel has been working all year to enhance their Intel Learning Series which incorporates an open platform, more diversified programs for the classrooms with the teacher leading the session in an even more interactive way. That also includes collaboration with vendors such as Smart Cart for Earth Walk that provides easy storage, as well as an all in one charging solution for one Classmate PC or an entire classroom’s worth that only needs a single electrical outlet to operate.
•    Intel has been working on improving rural connectivity as well, with the Classmate PC, by enabling internet access for a longer range for schools that may not be in the most urban areas.
•    Rumor has it that the Classmate PC will soon be the proud recipient of McGraw Hill and Pearson e-textbooks. Which will have interactivity, and unleash a whole new way for students and teachers to interact with textbooks and their Classmate PC. This is just a rumor for now…but it’s coming from a very good source. Heavy textbooks in backpacks will soon be a thing of the past.

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So now introducing the Classmate PC second generation.What’s different? Check out the run down below:
•  The processor inside the Convertible Classmate PC is the newer Atom N450
•  The Classmate PC will indeed stay an open platform device, allowing Linux, Windows, or any OS to be installed on it or modified. However Windows 7 will be the OS of choice when shipping these products out, unless otherwise stated by the school or consumer.
•  The Classmate PC has a new clam-shell design that also transforms into a tablet, as well as e-reader with dedicated scroll buttons that allow you to go to the next page.
•  Its touch-display is now 10″ in size and can now support a 1368 x 768 resolution which is ideal for reading e-Books.
•  The keyboard is bigger this time around, and is almost 95% the size of a standard keyboard now. This is ideal for not only 2nd graders but for those older kids with bigger hands.
•  The keyboard, touchpad, and screen are all waterproof and there will be an Antimicrobial option as well for the keyboard that will be offered through OEM’s
•  Durability has been greatly improved with its new Clamshell design, rubberized casing and rounded edges, as well as increased cushioning inside the computer around the hard drive and other essential parts.
•  The Hard Drive is now 2.5 which means larger storage capacities are available and the PC also supports an SD card up to 32GB.
•  The stylus is now much bigger and it resembles a pen for kids to easily hold for drawing, or any other creative project in tablet interactive mode.
•    Battery life on a 4 cell battery will last about 5 hours and on a 6 Cell it will manage up to 8 1/2 hours
•  The device will be available with 3G, GPS and Bluetooth

We were told that Q2 will be its expected ship date and it will retail anywhere from the upper $300’s to low $400 dollars. From our brief time with the new Classmate PC we were impressed with its durability as well as speed and overall  handling. I especially liked when we were able to interact with it as a student would by using the stylus and other programs.

Intel is not expecting to make a killing on this computer in the consumer market, but they are truly focusing on how to integrate the Classmate PC into the school system. Sadly, all the red tape in the U.S. will probably bar it from entering U.S. schools quickly, so yet again our neighbors around the world will show us up.

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