Today in New York, Intel launched their latest incarnation of the Classmate PC – the Intel Convertible Classmate PC. And what better way to launch a computer aimed at children, than by bringing a class of fifth graders to the Central Park Zoo to have fun exploring while each being equipped with a Classmate PC in their hands.
We previously had a hands-on with the Convertible Classmate PC, but to recap, Intel has improved this device in many ways over the previous generation of the Classmate PC. Aside from increased performance, storage and memory, this time it’s the subtle changes that matter most. For starters, not only does the device work as a clam-shell, it also works as a tablet PC. Kids can operate the device in portrait or landscape modes.
The device is now covered in a rubberized surface so that it doesn’t slip off their hands, it has a handle for easy toting around, it features hard drive protection – because you know that they’re bound to drop it and knock it around, it has a water resistant display and keyboard, along with a battery that can last through a whole school day, and it has venting located on the side of the device so that its heat doesn’t hurt a child while they’re holding it.
Since the original Classmate PC was first developed, several laptops, and especially notebooks have come out designed for kids. Dell, Disney and even Nickelodeon have come up with their own designs. But what makes the Classmate PC stand out is its dedication to being a complete education solution. Coinciding the Classmate Convertible PC with the launch, Intel announced a collaboration with McGraw Hill to develop a solution designed for K-5 students. This interactive learning solution, called LEAD21, offers a literacy and language arts program for students and teachers full print, digital and professional development resources. That includes digital tools like Online Coach, ePractice activities, and for future programs designed to specifically take advantage of the Classmate PC’s technology.
At the launch event we had the opportunity to speak to some of the kids who were getting hands on time with the Classmate PCs. They told us that, that morning was the first time they had ever used the Classmate PC, but you would hardly ever guess it, with the way they were all operating the PCs with such ease. Some kids were using the device to learn math, some were reading an interactive book, and some were using it to interact with a LEGO bot that was connected to some of the PCs. The kids also took the Classmate PCs around with them to explore the zoo. They used the device’s tablet function to draw pictures of the penguins, and they even performed a science experiment on the spot in the tropical rain-forest area. When we asked kids what their initial impressions of the device was, a common response was – “I Love it.”
Many education institutions, both nationally and internationally have already put in massive orders for the Classmate PC. As a matter of fact, there are about 2 million classmate PCs that have shipped around the world. But if you’re a parent looking to get the new Classmate Convertible PC for your individual child, there are a couple of individual resellers like 2Go PC that are selling them here in the states starting at $499. We’ll have a full review of the Intel Convertible Classmate PC up soon.