I'm a real proponent of thin clients. They ease management problems, they drastically reduce noise and energy consumption, and generally do a decent job of giving most students what they need. However, if your network isn't 100% up to snuff or a server goes on the blink, a lot of students go down. Similarly, even with a high-bandwidth connection, it doesn't take too many students streaming media on a single server to start seeing some lag at the desktop.
I've written about this dilemma before and continue to look for ways to combine the best features of thin clients with the best of desktop deployments. Whatever the solution, it needs to be cheap, easy to manage, easy to deploy, and energy-efficient. In an ideal world, though, students could also continue to do some work even in the face of network, server, or other hardware issues.
In fact, especially as we roll out cloud-based services, the need to log in to a client-server environment becomes less important in a lot of cases. Kids just need to be online. So here's the question: can a device like this one meet my needs?
Students are increasingly comfortable with small mobile screens. Would a lab full of these devices get kids onto the web and into their Google Apps accounts, but keep their eyes on a teacher and other students? It's very easy to hide behind a screen in a computer lab; even the wall of laptops many professors encounter in college can be quite daunting.
I'm not convinced that the EEE keyboard PC is the answer, but I'll certainly be looking at devices along these lines as we look at thin client refreshes near the end of 2009-2010.