Photos: OLPC, Classmate and Eee

Photos: OLPC, Classmate and Eee

Summary: How do the three leading education-orientated ultraportable notebooks stack up? Take our visual tour to find out.

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  • Small and inexpensive notebooks designed primarily for schoolchildren — particularly in developing countries — have been a hot topic ever since Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project began in 2005. Production XO laptops (above, left) became available in November 2007.

    OLPC is a not-for-profit organisation, whereas Intel, which notoriously joined and then exited the OLPC project, most definitely is not. Nevertheless, Intel's World Ahead program has the laudable aim of 'connecting the next billion people to uncompromised technology around the world', and part of that program is a low-cost notebook platform called Classmate (above, centre).

    ASUS's Eee (above, right) has proven extremely popular since its mid-2007 launch. Designed in conjunction with Intel, the Eee has a broader remit than the OLPC and the Classmate in that it's less specifically targeted at developing countries and therefore less rugged. In the UK, the Eee is distributed by RM as the RM Asus miniBook.

    In the following pages we take a comparative pictorial look at the OLPC XO, Intel Classmate and ASUS Eee.

    Photo credit: Charles McLellan

     

  • The Intel Classmate (centre) is the bulkiest of the three notebooks, measuring 24.5cm wide by 19.6cm deep by 4.4cm high. The OLPC XO has the biggest footprint (24.2cm x 22.8cm), while the ASUS Eee is the baby of the bunch at 22.5cm by 16.5cm by 3.5cm. The Eee is also the lightest of the trio by some distance, weighing 920g, compared to 1.45kg for both the XO and the Classmate. In terms of overall stylishness the Eee is the winner, but the XO and the Classmate are both more rounded and rugged, and come with carrying handles.

    The OLPC XO has the biggest screen, an innovative 7.5in. dual-mode transmissive/reflective LCD that can swivel from traditional clamshell mode to 'e-book' mode with the screen facing outwards, tablet-style (although it's not a touch-screen). The Classmate and Eee both have similar, rather cramped, 7in. TFT displays.

    There are three different operating systems on view here: the XO runs a Red Hat Fedora 6-based version of Linux and the Sugar graphical user interface (GUI); the Classmate runs Windows XP (although some Linux distributions are also supported); and the Eee runs a Xandros-based Linux distribution (with Windows XP also now available).

    The XO's keyboard is a waterproof membrane-style unit, while the Classmate and Eee have more traditional, if small, keyboards.


Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews

About

Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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7 comments
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  • Am I retarded...

    ...or is there no way to get to the next page of the article? All I see is "In the following pages we take a comparative pictorial look at the OLPC XO, Intel Classmate and ASUS Eee" and then... nothing.
    anonymous
  • Nevermind

    I see how it works.

    Worst. Navigation system. Ever.
    anonymous
  • XO available

    TFA mentions "Production XO laptops (above, left) became available in November 2007". Are they still available? I'd love to get one for my kid but onl heard about give-one-get-one the day after it ended...
    TheRealBubba
  • Navigation is terrible

    I agree whole-heartedly with this comment.

    The intra-story navigation is *so* bad it would make Jacob Neilson's lamb-chops curl.

    Please consider making the image navigation independent of the article itself and stick to 'Next>>' or '1|2|3' links at the bottom of each page.

    Also, surely it's only necessary to give credit to the photographer once. The pix ain't that good.
    dogStar5000
  • Navigation etc.

    We mustn't offend Mr Nielsen must we? -- so we'll take a look at the navigation issue. The photos have been suitably de-credited too.
    Charles McLellan
  • It's not JN you offended

    Charles,

    It is not Jakob Nielsen you offended, it is us, your readers and your users and, frankly, we are your audience so you better pay attention, as JK would no doubt tell you. Piss off the audience and they refrain from returning.
    We are highly intelligent, web savvy people who can't find our way through your article (which frankly, would do well to be organised in a much better way) and it is not our fault. You want to tell me I'm wrong because the street sign isn't legible or are you going to accept responsibility for an unhelpful and some may say unnecessary navigation system.

    The web has moved on since 2000 and us users like sleek, fast, well organised content in an uncrowned environment, with semantically structured documents, code that complies to web standards and an interface that takes us humans into account, not the software that delivers the page.
    have a look at http://www.webstandards.org/, http://www.alistapart.com/, http://www.zeldman.com/, http://www.useit.com/ and listen to your audience, not snipe at them

    So snarky comments aside, we're only here because the content is good, but I, for one, spend much less time here than I used to because the sight is so disastrously slower, more complicated more crowded, much, much less accessible, much less usable, much more unhelpful than it used to be for little or no benefit.
    joeaaa2
  • As promised...

    You'll be pleased (I hope) to see that we've improved the navigation on photo galleries. Keep the comments coming!
    Charles McLellan