Eat your heart out, OLPC. Intel has announced a new, second-generation model of its low-cost Classmate PC at the Intel Developer Forum that borrows some features from the OLPC XO and promises to challenge the Eee PC in the retail market.
The new machine features the same 900MHz Celeron M processor and 915GMS chipset as the first-generation model, and it has the same 256-512MB of DDR2 RAM depending on the configuration. Other features, including the water-resistant keyboard and touchpad, 802.11b/g Wi-FI, built-in speaker and microphone, and choice of Linux and Windows XP operating systems have remained largely identical, too. However, the second-generation model is lighter, has longer battery life, and supports more storage and more extensive wireless connectivity options.
On the menu for the second-gen Classmate PC are optional 4GB solid-state and 1.8" mechanical drives (larger than the first-gen's 1-2GB SSDs), an optional 9" 800 x 480 display (up from 7"), wireless mesh networking, and a 0.3-megapixel camera. Battery life has grown from four to five hours with the six-cell battery, and Intel also offers a 3.3-hour, four-cell battery. The new notebook weighs 1.27kg to 1.49kg compared to the first-gen model's 1.45 kg (2.8-3.3 lbs vs. 3.2 lbs).
The primary purpose of the Classmate PC is to be an educational tool for children in the developing world, However, according to a report posted by Reuters last month, Intel plans to commercialize the second-gen Classmate PC in the United States and Europe through third-party PC manufacturers. The notebook will reportedly be available for $250 to $350, which should make it more affordable than the Eee PC and other low-cost sub-notebooks out today.
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