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 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.

    The OLPC XO's motherboard, which is built into the back of the screen lid, uses an AMD Geode LX700 processor running at 433MHz. The PCI and memory interfaces (North Bridge) are built into the CPU, as is the graphics controller. The South Bridge chip, which includes controllers for audio, hard disk, USB and power management, is the AMD Geode CS5536. There is 256MB of RAM and 1GB of solid-state storage. Extra storage can be added via the SD card slot.


  • Intel Classmate
    Intel's Classmate is built around the 90nm Celeron M Ultra Low Voltage 353 processor running at 900MHz. It has a 400MHz frontside bus linking it to the Mobile Intel 915GMS Express chipset, which includes the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900 graphics module. Like the OLPC, the Classmate has a moderate 256MB of RAM, but Intel's system has double the solid-state storage capacity of the OLPC XO at 2GB. Again, there's an SD card slot for storage expansion.

    In passing, it's worth noting that Intel clearly does not expect the average user to modify or otherwise tinker with the Classmate's innards: to expose the motherboard for the above picture, we had to remove more than 20 screws and detach the screen — a process that took the best part of an hour.


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