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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  • The OLPC XO (left) has the biggest screen, measuring 7.5in. across the diagonal; the Intel Classmate and ASUS Eee both have 7in. TFT screens with native resolutions of 800 by 480 pixels.

    The XO's screen is an innovative dual-mode TFT that can operate in greyscale/reflective mode to save power, or in LED-backlit colour/transmissive mode (shown here) for maximum image quality. In greyscale/reflective mode, the resolution is 1,200 by 900 pixels and power consumption is 0.1-0.2W; in colour/transmissive mode, resolution is approximately 800 by 600 pixels and power consumption 0.2-1W, according to OLPC.

    The XO has a 0.3 megapixel digital camera to the right of the display; the Classmate has no camera, although there are plans to include one in the next version of the system; the entry-level 'Surf' version of the Eee (pictured here) has no camera, but slightly more expensive models have a 0.3 megapixel unit.

  • Here is the OLPC XO in e-book (greyscale) mode, with the screen rotated and folded flat, facing outwards. Flanking the screen are the speaker grilles, with the camera (right) and microphone (left) above them. Below the speakers are a quartet of game buttons on the right and a four-way directional pad on the left. Beneath these are the power button (right) and a screen rotation control (left). There are also LEDs for power and battery status on the right, and wireless acquisition and activity on the left.

  • The battery in our OLPC XO review sample was a 4-cell 3,100mAh LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) unit, although 5-cell nickel metal hydride batteries (NiMH) are also used. Among the advantages of lithium iron phosphate are the absence of heavy metals and the ability to support more charge/discharge cycles than conventional Li-ion cells (OLPC quotes 2,000 in this case). Battery life figures vary, but in our simple rundown tests we got around 3.5 hours with the screen backlight on (colour/transmissive mode) and 4.5 hours with the backlight off (greyscale/reflective mode).

    The Intel Classmate's battery is not designed to be easily removed — you need to undo four screws to get the protective cover off and two more to release the battery itself. Having done this, you discover a bulky and relatively weighty 6-cell 4,000mAh Li-ion unit. Intel claims around four hours' usage for the Classmate on battery power: this seems optimistic in our experience, although we have yet to formally test this.

    The Eee has the most compact battery pack, a 4-cell 4,400mAh Li-ion unit for which ASUS claims 2.8 hours' life, which seems reasonable in our (so far anecdotal) experience.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Reviews


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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  • 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.
  • Nevermind

    I see how it works.

    Worst. Navigation system. Ever.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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


    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,,, 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.
  • 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