The internal storage isnâ€™t the only thing that connects via the USB interface. The Realtek Wi-Fi adapter is also connected via USB. Again, this solution would be cheaper and easier to implement than a mini-PCI card and could even have an integrated antenna. And, like the flash disk, in the event of a component failure, it would be a pretty simple procedure to replace a USB based wireless adapter.
Thereâ€™s also a Fast Ethernet adapter built-in, in case the Classmate PCs are deployed in a school thatâ€™s actually equipped with a wired network. Thereâ€™s also integrated sound with stereo speakers mounted below the screen â€“ the quality of which was surprisingly good.
On the left of the chassis youâ€™ll find headphone and microphone sockets. This is an important part of the Classmate PC, since it means that students can study in class without disturbing each other. But the audio input/output functionality also means that the Classmate PC can be used for VoIP and video conferencing duties, which opens the door for distance learning for children who donâ€™t have a proper school near them. Also on the left of the chassis is a USB port and an Ethernet port. On the right is a second USB port and the power socket.
In the classroom, the Classmate PC will connect to the teacherâ€™s machine and allow him/her to transmit directly to the desktop of every student. It also means that the teacher can monitor each studentâ€™s progress in real time. There are no text books, exercise books, pens or pencils to worry about â€“ all the teacher has to do is place a Classmate PC on each desk before class starts and everyoneâ€™s set.
Coupled with Intelâ€™s commitment to WiMAX, the Classmate PC has the potential to make a monumental difference to the lives of children in the developing world. With more children getting a better education, thereâ€™s every chance that these developing nations will be able to progress, with each generation managing to achieve more than the last.
OK, I know it sounds idealistic to think that a basic notebook PC can change the world, but if the Classmate PC can change the life of just a single child in the developing world, itâ€™s done its job.