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First Look: Intel Convertible Classmate PC
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First Look: Intel Convertible Classmate PC

3:45 /

The newest generation of the Intel Convertible Classmate PC is a rugged Netbook/tablet hybrid with even more educational software. We go hands-on with Intel's 2010 Classmate update and see how it works.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:04 >> Hi, I'm Scott Stein, senior associate editor at cnet.com, and this is the new Intel Classmate. Now this is not a laptop that you're going to see in stores per se, but for many years before the netbook there was an Intel Classmate line of computers that are meant for the educational market for kids to introduce them to using computers and to use globally. Now, this laptop looks a lot like a netbook and it really is. Underneath there's an Intel Atom N450 processor, 160 Gig hard drive, really the things that are in a basic current netbook. So what exactly makes an educational laptop? Well, Intel's Classmate Program has about 300 different partners that make a variety of software tools and hardware tools that plug in. Lego has a robotics' kit. There's also a weather app and peripheral that takes humidity levels and temperatures, and there are a number of other devices currently available. McGraw Hill has a partnership with them as well. And in addition, Intel's decided to partner with a number of different manufacturers across the world to take this design and get it out there to as many people as needed. The cost of this laptop is 499. This is not meant to purchase on your own. In fact you're going to really have a hard time trying to buy it. It's going to go through institutions. So you're probably -- there's a good chance you might see your own kid take home one of these one of these days or maybe you already have. This laptop again runs Windows 7 Professional in the version that we looked at. But it has a really cool software interface on the screen where educators can put a lot of the apps and applications they're going to be using to teach. There's a math wizard app on here. There's also a great art app and a couple of others that we found pre-installed that were pretty fun to use. And this is a convertible netbook tablet. The screen rotates around and flips down, and there's a stylus that tucks into the back that pulls out. Now, it's not like an iPhone or iPad. It's not really meant to be touch basis. It's meant to be used with a stylus, a pressure based, but it's actually really nice for taking notes or annotating. There's even an e-reader app that reads e-Pubs and PDFs and allows you take notes on them. We saw this in use in a setting at the Central Park Zoo where students ran around and used it for testing temperature levels to drawing pictures of the animals, and they seem to enjoy using it. The case is pretty holdable. It's a ruggedized, rubberized type feel which should help not have it drop out of kids' hands. In addition Intel tells us the edges are shock absorbent and the hard drive will also detect shock and be able to detach when needed. And there's a really nice handle that comes out the back which is not new for the Classmate, but it's a little more integrated. Lets you hold it like a school tote. It's pretty fun and while it does have a very institutionalized look, it's actually pretty attractive and we enjoyed using it. And hey, netbook makers, this has one of the largest track pads we've ever seen. We'd love to see them on some other netbooks too. The keyboard and the screen are spill-resistant which is smart. A lot of the keys and side controls here are rubberized, rubber coated. So hopefully this is as kid proof a laptop as you'd need. In conclusion looking at it, it's a kind of cool little device and particularly its relationship with the number of software makers out there and peripherals make it very tempting for educational use. There are a couple of little nice tricks too built into the hardware. The web cam rotates which is a nice touch for when using it in tablet mode. And it actually has a 1366 by 68 10.1-inch screen which is higher res then normal for ten-inch netbooks. Now, the real question is at 499 would you get this or would you get an iPad for educational use? Had to bring it up because I even know people in education that are considering getting an iPad for their school students. It may sound impractical, but that debate between whether to get a tablet or go with a netbook will be one that will be had for quite some time. I'm Scott Stein, and this is the Intel Classmate, the 2010 generation.

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