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Intel’s laptop for kids goes to China

Apr 10, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Intel's convertible “Classmate” PC for schoolchildren has been released in China for the first time, as the Hanvon HCQ890 (left), the chipmaker says. Separately, Computer Technology Link, one of several companies marketing the Classmate in the U.S., supplemented its offering with a standard netbook, the UW1.

(Click here for a slightly larger view of Hanvon's HCQ890)

Intel's original Classmate mini-notebook reference design (right) debuted in March 2007 as part of Intel's “World Ahead” program aimed at schoolchildren in emerging markets. Available with a seven-inch screen and either a a 1GB SSD (solid-state drive) packing Linux or a 2GB SSD running Windows XP, the Classmate was widely viewed as Intel's initial riposte to the AMD Geode-based OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) netbook. Both of these pioneering products debuted before the term “netbook” was in wide circulation.

OLPC, meanwhile, which broke with Intel in spectacular fashion after a brief partnership, is now offering its XO1 with Windows XP, as well as Linux. Although struggling financially, the organization is moving forward with an XO-2 device, for which it is considering an ARM processor, now that the Geode has been discontinued.

A second-generation Classmate made its entrance in 2008, with a larger, 8.9-inch screen, a more conventional square touchpad, a right-shift key (previously missing), and a 1.8-inch hard disk drive. While Intel created the reference design, manufacturing and sales were farmed out to various companies, Portland-based Computer Technology Link (CTL) being the first one to announce.

Initially, the second-gen Classmate sported a 900MHz Celeron ULV processor and an Intel 915GMS chipset, supporting up to 1GB of DDR2 RAM. The design (pictured, below left) has now been updated along netbook lines, including the usual 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, the 92945GSE northbridge, and ICH7M southbridge. CTL's version supports either Linux or Windows XP, comes with a 30GB hard disk drive, measures 8.7 x 7.5 x 1.5 inches, and sells for approximately $400.

Intel's Classmate in clamshell (left) and convertible (right) versions
(Click to enlarge)

Intel OEMs, CTL included, now offer the Classmate in an additional version (pictured, above right), notable for including a screen that swivels 180 degrees. When folded over the keyboard, the screen allows the computer to be operated with fingers or the included stylus, while a built-in accelerometer automatically switches between portrait and landscape modes, according to Intel.

CTL says its version of the convertible Classmate — whose specs and dimensions are apparently near-identical to those produced by other OEMs — measures 9.5 x 7.5 x 1.5 inches, weighs less than three pounds, and offers about five hours of operation via a standard six-cell battery. The device is equipped with 1GB of RAM, expandable to 2GB, plus a 60GB hard disk drive, and sells for approximately $500.

Intel announced yesterday that the convertible Classmate is now also available in China as the Hanvon “e-school bag” HCQ890, pictured at the top of our story. Naturally, the Hanvon version comes with Chinese-language software, said to include a handwriting-recognition program that lets students “write naturally by resting their palm on the touchscreen.” The device also includes a Longman dictionary that helps pupils study English by translating and pronouncing words, plus ArtRage drawing software, Hanvon says.

Features and specifications listed by Intel for the convertible Classmate PC include the following:

  • Processor — 1.6GHz Intel N270
  • Memory — 512MB or 1GB of DDR2 RAM standard, expandable to 2GB
  • Storage — 4GB, 6GB, or 16GB of flash storage, or hard disk drive (CTL includes a 1.8-inch, 60GB PATA hard disk drive)
  • Display — 8.9 inch pivoting touchscreen display, with accelerometer, LED backlighting and 1024 x 600 resolution
  • Camera — 1.3 megapixel
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b/g wireless (mesh support requires Linux)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2 x USB 2.0
    • 1 x VGA
    • Microphone and headphone jacks

  • Expansion — SD/MMC card reader
  • Battery life — 6 hours with six-cell battery, 4 hours with 4-cell battery
  • Dimensions — 9.48 x 8.46 x 1.54 inches (241 x 215 x 39.3mm)
  • Weight — 2.75 to 3.2 pounds (1.25 to 1.45kg)
CTL's UW1 netbook

Whether equipped with the convertible screen or not, Intel's Classmate PCs are in chronically short supply, at least according to CTL, which regularly informs its customers when the next batch can be expected. For that reason, perhaps, CTL just announced the UW1 pictured below, an OEM netbook with standard features such as a 10.1-inch display, a 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard disk drive.

CTL's UW1 is a relatively standard netbook design

Offered only with Windows XP Home or Windows XP Professional operating systems, but said to support Linux as well, the UW1 weighs 2.6 pounds. The device, which CTL says will be available next month for approximately $400, has a six-cell, 2200mAh battery delivering five hours of operation, has a VGA-resolution webcam, sports three USB 2.0 ports, and includes a Memory Stick/SD/MMC card reader.


General information about Intel's Classmate convertible can be found on the chipmaker's website here, while information about the CTL and Hanvon versions appears here and here, respectively. CTL says its version is available with Linux, Windows XP Home, or Windows XP Professional.

More information about CTL's UW1 netbook may be found on the company's website, here.

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