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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  • Although it's the smallest of the three notebooks, the ASUS Eee has the largest keyboard. The main keys measure 15mm by 13mm and have a positive action; adults with large fingers may struggle to touch-type on the Eee, but children should have no problems. The Eee's touchpad is also relatively small.

    Like the Eee, the Classmate has a traditional-looking keyboard, although it feels more solid than the Eee's. However, the key-tops are slightly smaller and the position of one or two keys (notably the '+/=' key) may confuse at first. The Classmate's circular touchpad seems slightly gimmicky, but is reasonably usable.

    The Eee's keyboard is not ruggedised in any way, while the Classmate's is described as 'water resistant'. The OLPC XO's keyboard is properly rugged, being a sealed membrane-type unit (see next page). The XO has a conventional two-button touchpad flanked by two areas that will accept stylus input, although there's no stylus provided as yet.

  • The keys on the OLPC keyboard are relatively small and the action takes some getting used to — for adults at any rate. However, children who tested our review sample had no complaints (in fact one commented that it was 'addictive, like popping bubble-wrap').

  • 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.

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