Intel offered a sneak peek of the next-generation of its Classmate PC design at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco today. The new design features a tablet, touchscreen, and motion-sensing user interface, and is powered by — you guessed it — an Atom processor.
Intel expects this new, more flexible Classmate PC design to cater to more of the needs of the worlds 1.3 billion students. “Our ethnographic research has shown us that students responded well to tablet and touch screen technology,” explains Lila Ibrahim, GM of Intel’s Emerging Markets Platform Group.
“The creativity, interactivity and user-friendliness of the new design will enhance the learning experiences for these children,” adds Ibrahim. “This is important for both emerging and mature markets where technology is increasing being seen as a key tool in encouraging learning and facilitating teaching.”
Photos of Intel’s new Classmate PC design
(Click each to enlarge; source: Intel)
Key features of the prior design — introduced in June — that appear to be shared by this new version, include:
- Processor –Intel Atom N270, clocked at 1.6GHz
- Chipset — Intel 945GSE
- Memory — 256MB (Linux only) or 512 MB
- Display — 7-inch 800×480 or 8.9-inch 1024×600 color LCD
- Storage — up to 8GB NAND flash; or 30 GB HDD
- Audio — 2-channel stereo audio; built-in speakers and mic; jacks for audio in/out
- 10/100Mbit Ethernet
- 802.11 b/g wireless; full MESH 802.11s support
- Water-resistant integrated keyboard with hot keys cycle
- Touchpad with left/right buttons
- Camera — 30fps @ 640×480, 0.3M
- Batteries — 4 or 6 cells, with approx. 4.5 or 6.5 hrs operation, respectively
- AC adapter for recharging batteries
- Operating system — Linux or Windows XP Pro
- Security Hardware-based theft deterrent
Key new features of the new design, according to Intel’s announcement, include:
- Touchscreen — pen and on-screen soft keyboard
- Tablet mode — simple user-interface shell; quick launcher for tablet mode
- Enhanced software — easier network connection and collaboration simple computer management, and localized, education-friendly content
According to Intel, the next-generation Classmate PC design continues many of the fundamental characteristics of previous versions of the device, such as a student-friendly, lightweight, rugged design. Also, like the earlier versions it comes with customized educational software featuring an emphasis “collaboration and 1:1 learning.”
According to Intel, changes incorporated in the new design were driven by a combination of “ethnographic research” along with the past two years of field tests. For example, because students work better in groups, the new design’s emphasis on mobility is likely to make the devices more successful than the original, tethered versions. Additionally, new options of natural input and touch are expected to make the devices more conducive to learning, particularly in math, science, art, and other subjects that involve graphing, diagramming, and drawing.
From a mechanical perspective, the new design also features a simple shell-style case that aims to allow device-makers to easily differentiate their offerings via unique color schemes and decorations. An optional soft, flexible handle serves for carrying the device and supporting it when it’s used in tablet mode.
Intel expects the new Classmate PC design to be available to device manufacturers by the end of this year. Operating system, content, software providers, and other ecosystem partners are already developing products to support the new Classmate PC version, the company adds.
Intel notes that devices based on this latest Classmate PC design will co-exist along with the earlier versions. The first-generation Classmate PC design was unveiled in May of 2006, with production commencing about a year later. In April of this year, Intel launched the second-generation design, followed by a version based on Intel’s Atom processor in June.
According to Intel the government of Portugal plans to provide 500,000 Intel-powered classmate PCs to its elementary school students, and Telmex, a leading telecom company in Mexico, is donating 50,000 of the devices to students in Mexico.
For further details, visit the Classmate PC website.
Another low-cost laptop-style computer — aimed at students in developing nations — is available via the One Laptop Per Child project. It’s pictured at the right.