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Intel updates junior laptop

Apr 3, 2008 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Intel has unveiled a new version of its Classmate mini-laptop reference design. Now targeting consumers and schoolchildren both, and running Linux or Windows XP, the device has a 30GB hard drive, a revised touchpad and keyboard, webcam, and a nine-inch screen.

(Click here for a larger view of the Classmate/2Go PC)

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The original Classmate debuted in March 2007 as part of Intel's “World Ahead” program aimed at schoolchildren in emerging markets. Available with a 1GB SSD (solid-state drive) packing Linux or a 2GB SSD packing Windows XP, the Classmate was widely viewed as Intel's response to the Linux- and AMD-based OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) device.


Intel's second-generation Classmate
(Click image to enlarge)

The second-generation Classmate will be sold directly to the public. While Intel created the reference design (right), OEMs in various regions will be responsible for manufacturing and sales. First to announce is Portland-based Computer Technology Link (CTL), which says it will sell the Classmate as the 2Go PC (seen above) for prices ranging from $300 to $500.

The Classmate now includes new features intended to help it compete with other mini-laptops, such as Asus's hot-selling Eee PC. While Intel has retained the three-pound device's kid-friendly rounded corners, it switched from the original Classmate's round touchpad to a conventional-looking square design. The Classmate also now includes a right-shift key, which was previously missing.

Technical upgrades include a nine-inch screen, offering the same 800 x 480 resolution as the previous seven-inch panel. The new Classmate also includes a VGA-resolution webcam and an available six-cell battery, according to the company.

Notably, Intel has moved away from flash storage to a 1.8-inch (sub laptop-sized) hard drive. With a suitable operating system installation, the Classmate could still be configured as a solid-state device, since it includes a bootable SD slot.

Announcing the Classmate at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Shanghai, China, Intel said future iterations of the product will use its Centrino Atom chipset. However, today's second-generation device uses a 900MHz Celeron ULV processor and an Intel 915GMS chipset. A single DIMM socket comes with 512MB of RAM installed, but supports up to 1GB of 400/533MHz DDR2 RAM.

The Classmate includes 802.11b/g wireless networking, capable of working in a mesh configuration that allows multiple devices to share a single Internet connection. It also has a port for a wired 10/100 Ethernet connection.

Other interfaces, pictured below, include microphone in, headphone out, and dual USB ports. Finally, the Classmate also offers stereo speakers. Unlike “grownup” laptops, however, the device does not include a VGA output.


The second-generation Classmate's ports

Features and specifications listed by Intel and CTL for the Classmate/2Go PC include:

  • Processor — 900MHz Intel Celeron ULV, with 915GMS chipset
  • Memory — 512MB of RAM, expandable to 1GB of 400/533MHz DDR2 RAM
  • Storage — 1.8-inch hard disk drive, listed as 30GB by Intel, but specified as a 40GB, 4200-rpm unit by CTL
  • Display — 9-inch LCD with 800 x 480 resolution
  • Camera — webcam with 640 x 480 resolution
  • Networking:
    • LAN — 10/100 Ethernet port
    • WLAN — 802.11b/g, compatible with mesh networking

  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • audio mic in, line out
    • stereo speakers

  • Expansion — SD slot
  • Dimensions — 8.7 x 7.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight — less than three pounds

The 2Go PC has already reached the hands of reviewers at CNET.com and Laptop magazine. CNET's Dan Ackerman said the device “isn't built for speed,” but added that “the Windows XP operating system, Office, basic Web browsers, and media players worked reasonably well.” Laptop's Joanna Stern reached similar conclusions about its performance, but called the second-generation Classmate a “serious improvement,” and noted the potential for up to five hours of battery life.

Availability

According to CTL, the 2Go PC will be available in May from the company's own website, here, and from Amazon. It will be offered with either Linux or Windows XP.

To read CNET's review of a second-generation Classmate, from an undisclosed supplier, see here. Laptop's review of the CTL version is available here.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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