Intel Classmate PC

I’m not entirely sure why Intel decided on a round touchpad, but to be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen a round touchpad on a notebook. Panasonic uses round touchpads on some of its lightweight semi-rugged notebooks. Despite the strange shape, the touchpad on the Classmate PC worked admirably and the two buttons mounted below it respond with a reassuring click.

Inside the Classmate PC is a 900MHz Celeron M CPU, again just like the processor you’ll find inside the Samsung Q1 UMPC. Where the Classmate PC does differ from a UMPC is memory complement, with only 256MB of RAM on board. When you take the Intel GM915 integrated graphics into account, you’re actually left with only 248MB of usable system memory. In a normal notebook this would be a major issue, but the Classmate PC isn’t designed to run the bloated Windows applications that we’ve become used to, so its modest amount of memory should be more than sufficient.

The Classmate PC runs Microsoft Windows XP Embedded Version 2002, with Service Pack 2. There’s very little installed other than drivers for the hardware and the basic Windows Accessories applications. Interestingly, the full suite of Windows desktop games were present – it seems that Intel is keen for children in the developing world to play solitaire when they’re bored, just like the rest of us.

There’s no hard drive inside the Classmate PC, instead there’s 1GB of flash memory for data storage – this is a smart move on many levels. For one, flash memory prices have hit an all time low, so its use helps keep the overall cost of the unit down. Secondly, the lack of a hard drive means that there are no moving parts inside the machine, making it far more robust than a typical notebook, when it comes to both shocks or drops and dust ingress.

The flash memory storage module is connected to the Classmate PC via the USB interface, despite the fact that the chipset supports IDE. Again, this is a clever move by Intel since USB based flash memory is cheap and easily accessible. A USB storage solution also has the advantage of being easily replaceable, even by someone with modest technical knowledge.

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