My Classmate PCs arrived today from Intel and I finally had time to break them out tonight. You can find an image gallery here with first looks and some screenshots. I'll be writing several more detailed posts over the next few days as I actually live with these machines for a while, but I wanted to give my initial impressions to accompany the pictures. The Classmate, by the way, for those of you not familiar with it, is Intel's foray into 1:1 computing. Although it's designed for kids in developing countries where it could supplement existing classroom materials and curricula, I wonder if it might have some real value in developed countries, as well (more on that in the next few days as I get students' feedback).
|Image Gallery: Check out my first impressions and screenshots.|
First off, this is a really small keyboard. Surprisingly, the small screen (7 inches) is not a problem. However, the keyboard takes some serious getting used to. I have really small hands, so I'm adapting fairly well, as I imagine most kids would. However, kids and adults with larger hands might struggle. My biggest niggle with the keyboard is actually the single shift key on the left side only. Again, though, since the target audience will be relatively computer-naive, this may be less of an issue.
Secondly, the computers seem quite rugged and they are fairly light. The actually have a small handle but these feel like they could be jammed inside a lot of backpacks with no problem. The latching mechanism is magnetic, too, so there are no latches to snap off.
Finally, much to my disappointment, the Windows version is running faster and better than the Linux machine. Intel is actually looking into an issue with the theft prevention software on the Linux computer that may be causing some problems, but the OS for the Linux laptop (a customized version of OpenSUSE called Metasys running KDE) seems a bit bloated for this processor. Problems in particular are cropping up with being unable to type on the top window on a screen if mulitple applications are open (including a Save dialog for an application).
There are so many great lean choices out in Linuxland, I'd love to see this explored further. I have a conference call with Intel Thursday afternoon; I'll bring this up then and see if these problems are just related to pre-production softare. The Windows XP laptop is remarkably quick for a 900MHz processor and handles moderate multitasking pretty well).
There are many more details to come from much more rigorous testing. I'll keep posting as my students and I start putting them through their paces.