Intel Classmate announcements from IDF

It's easy to forget Intel's so-called clamshell Classmate when their convertible tablet works so well, but new ruggedization features make it worth a look in a variety of markets.

It wouldn't be IDF without some interesting announcements around Intel's Classmate, which, as regular readers know, is one of my favorite 1:1 platforms. While my focus of late has been on their convertible tablet/netbook form factor, today's announcements make their clamshell traditional netbook more compelling for both developing and mature markets.

The clamshell Classmate has always been a little tougher and a little cheaper than its tablet brother (both pictured above), but Intel's announcements today centered around some important improvements in both ruggedization and performance. Here are the highlights, courtesy of Intel:

  • Increased battery life of up to 8.5 hours (with six-cell lithium-ion battery and 32G SSD1)
  • The new clamshell classmate PC runs on the latest Intel Atom processor which is based on 45nm Hi-k next generation Intel® CoreTM microarchitecture, which provides performance with power efficiency
  • Improved ruggedness enhances protection from drops from desk heights (up to 70cm) and from stacking and dropping the laptop in backpacks and bags
    • To enhance the overall ruggedness, Intel used technologies such as having a round corner design to improve protection from all angles, an easy-to-grasp handle to reduce dropping, a special hard disk drive rubber cage that reduces impact from physical shocks and vibration and a special LCD rubber protection to minimizes the impact from drop and fall accidents
    • Ruggedness of the latest clamshell classmate PC design was improved by incorporating crush zones and additional air cushions around more fragile area such as corners and screen to allow better protection from shock and vibration.
    • Rubberized surface of the design better withstands daily wear and tear by students. Schools and parents can benefit from reduced maintenance costs and not having the need to purchase separate protective cases
    • Water -resistant keyboard can protect against accidental liquid spills and water-resistant screen, touchpad and keyboard (C-face) of the netbook
    • Intel was able to enhance the water resistance of the C-face by focusing on innovations such as using sealing material to fill the gap between buttons and keys, using two draining holes at the bottom and a water channel around the keyboard bottom to enable quick flow-out of water
    • The new clamshell classmate PC can withstand a spill of 100cc of liquid, or approximately half the contents of a juice box

  • Antimicrobial coating on the C-face can protect children using the classmate PC against microorganisms

Half a juice box...not bad, eh?

Clearly, the touch capabilities of the convertible Classmate resonate with students and enable important transformations in classroom use. However, while netbooks are as close as we can come to disposable PCs, resources are always limited and true ruggedization of this sort means that school and parent investments will be far more likely to survive for a normal PC lifecycle of 3-4 years. Schools will need to weigh the advantages of touch over the advantages of ruggedness and cost if they are looking at the Classmate platform, but these changes make the clamshell Classmate far more than an also-ran in mature markets.