Has Intel Beat OLPC to XO-2 with Tablet Classmate PC?

   
   
   
   
   

While the original Classmate PC did not impress, the new 2Go Convertible Tablet PC is bringing in rave reviews from early users. In fact, you could say that Intel has beat OLPC to the XO-2 with the Tablet Classmate PC.

First, let's have Joanna Stern give us her option:

The $499 system (also called the Intel Convertible Classmate PC) boasts a rotatable 8.9-inch resistive touchscreen that has been optimized for a number of different software applications, including a slick software shell for Windows XP. Sporting the typical netbook specs, including an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive, the 2go's polished touch interface, smooth accelerometer, and solid battery life make it stand out not only on the playground but in the grown-up netbook market, too.
Now let's look at why the Convertible Classmate PC could be the heir to the XO-1 laptop. I say it's a contender to be the realized XO-2 for three reasons:
  1. Touchscreen: The resistive touchscreen with accelerometer for automatic eBook mode that also supports both stylus and finger inputs
  2. Easy InterfaceWindows XP is masked by the Blue Dolphin user interface that is reminiscent of Linux and makes the system an ease to use
  3. Localized Software: The 120 Classmate PC vendors are localizing software, from FBReader and MyScript Stylus in the USA to Algodoo and Easybits Magic Desktop in the UK

Unlike the XO laptop from One Laptop Per Child, you can even buy the Tablet Classmate from several online vendors. But that's not all. Intel is rolling it out in the UK too.

From the BBC we learn that Intel is hoping to have the £349 Tablet Classmates available through the Home Access scheme and to UK schools at a reduced price of around £260.

Not the XO-1 price, but this video proves its more real than the XO-2 marketing photo:

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12 Comments

Wow, great post and great device! It looks like they've taken everything I like about the XO (ruggedized, size, form-factor), and added a few things that I felt were lacking in the XO (faster processor, more RAM, TOUCHSCREEN). They also reference in numerous places that they will support Linux on it:

"Compatible:
Windows XP Pro, Microsoft Office and Linux capable"
[http://2gopc.com/]

"OPERATING SYSTEM

* Microsoft® Windows® XP Home - Installed
* Supports Linux (ETA April 2009)"
[http://www.ctlcorp.com/v4/p-715-ctl-2go-convertible-classmate-pc-89-laptoptablet-with-hard-drive-and-windows-xp-home.aspx?affiliateid=10059]

Hey that's the guy I contacted about demoing the machine at our XO user group meeting!

My wife got laid off from her job... and then ordered a Classmate 3 for herself! They are backordered, so arrival will be about two weeks from now. I'll report back when it arrives. I'll be able to compare it to the Classmate 2, Asus Eee PC 701 and the XO-1.

Yeah, it doesn't match the XO-2's price. Mary Lou is planing to get it down to $75.

And the XO-2 is planned to be low enough in power consumption that children can power it.

So if it doesn't matter if you help the poorest half of the world's children, the Classmate is just fine.

While those goals are laudable, let's interject reality into the conversation. When we see an XO-2, and it is cheap, and it is low power, then we can get excited about its competitive advantage. Remember, XO-1 hasn't met many of those same goals.

Wayan, don't forget that it was the country representatives (like from Brazil, which is now buying Encore machines instead) who pressured OLPC to beef up the specs for the XO-1. This, combined with the falling dollar and far lower volumes of production, fully explains the gap between the $100 and the current cost. If the problem had been that they are academic guys who don't know how much things cost in the real world (something I have seen in many projects) then I would agree we should be skeptical about any estimates for the XO-2.

But I am optimistic about PixelQI (does OLPC have any hardware people left?) with the integrated multitouch sensor (the Classmate 3 and Mobilis are far more limited), the electronics on the LCD instead of a separate motherboard, the use of portable DVD screens as the base and so much more.

It has moving parts such as a hard disk, I don't know if it has a fan. There is a vent on the side, for bugs and dirt. It only claims 30cm drop. Don't get me wrong, it looks like a nice machine, just not quite the same market as the XO.

It might not be as good as the XO (hardiness), but it has a lot of features that I would want as a teacher. I use spiral bound teacher presentation books. They get unwieldy, let alone lost and torn. This would allow me to read scripted material at the touch of a finger, plus plug in an LCD for multimedia.

Plus if students are interested, they can demo it and see if they can get one for Christmas, rather than an XBox, Wii, or Playstation 3.

Just sayin.

An old adage said: "don't sell bear's skin before killing it". In technical aspect, Classmate 3 is not much different to other tablet PC although it is much improved compared to previous generation.

XO-2 specification is not set in stone yet other than the fact it will use PixelQ' screen. It looks radically different than the current XO-1 with its multitouch screen that will probably use MPX (Multipointer X) now part of X server(Xorg 7.5). It will not be surprising that Sugar will remain the software of choice due to a lot of available activities.

Once we see the final version of XO-2, then we can compare to Tablet Classmate PC.

I would like to see a chart of the growth and number of available (i.e., working, field tested) activities for the XO since release.

How does that compare to other educational software available for other systems, Linux, XP, OSX, etc.?

How does it compare to Moodle?

You are not the only one who would love to see an Activity development timeline. I'd like to see how the break in Sugar wrappers effected the activity development as well.

Luya, by the time the XO-2 actually shows up we'll probably have to compare it to the 4th or 5th generation Classmate and not the current one...

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