A year ago, ZDNet produced a five-strong shortlist (ASUS Eee, OLPC XO, Intel Classmate, Inveneo Computing Station and NComputing X300) based on performance and power consumption measurements. Our testing was done in the cossetted surroundings of a London office, with a reliable power supply and high-speed broadband on tap. Computer Aid's brief was to take the same kit and see how it shaped up in Africa, where power and connectivity cannot always be taken for granted. Three African universities signed up for the second round of tests: Kenyatta University in Kenya, Jos University in Nigeria and the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe.
As well as quantitative power consumption and performance tests, the African universites looked at usability issues surrounding software installation and evaluation, compatibility with multiple operating systems and connectivity via wired and wireless networks.
Read the report for the details, but the headline is that, among the notebooks, the ASUS Eee PC emerged as the preferred solution — beating the ostensibly custom-designed OLPC XO and Intel Classmate. The XO was deemed too slow and lacking in key bundled software (a spreadsheet and a video player), while the 9in. Classmate was too power-hungry and therefore short on battery life. NComputing's X300 desktop virtualisation solution was a surprise package for the African testers, and seems likely to find favour in organisations where portability isn't required.