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Intel launches convertible 'kid-friendly' netbook

Classmate PC evolves

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CES Intel today took the wraps off the latest generation of its education-oriented netbook reference design, the Classmate PC.

Intel third-gen Classmate PC

Intel's convertible Classmate PC: nice netbook

The new model is slimmer and lighter than its predecessors. It also features a 180° tilt-and-swivel display to allow the unit to the converted from a classic clamshell form-factor to a tablet. The 8.9in, 1024 x 600 display's touch-sensitive.

That said, it's been specially configured to ignore input from kids leaning on one part of the screen when working on another area. Intel called this "palm rejection".

How will the mobile phone maker respond to that, we wonder? To build "Intel rejection" technology into the new Palm Web OS?

Intel third-gen Classmate PC

Tilt and swivel

Also new is the branding: Intel's calling the machines the Learning Series, the better to stress the platform's emphasis on educational computing. But the new name also takes in appropriate software.

The new model is based on a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor backed by 512MB of memory. Past Classmates used Celeron CPUs, and Intel claimed the change of chip yields a 50 per cent boost to system performance and a 30 per cent longer batter life.

Intel said the machine can run for four hours solid, thanks to said CPU and a four-cell battery.

Intel third-gen Classmate PC

Easy to... er... handle

Other features are typical netbook stuff: Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, USB and SDHC expansion.

Intel described the convertible Classmate's design as "durable... drop-proof... and rugged". It also said the machine has a water-resistant keyboard. Like past Classmate PCs, the new model has a handle on the back.

Intel third-gen Classmate PC

Best Classmate yet

Intel doesn't sell the machines, of course, choosing instead to license the design to hardware manufacturers. It said some 30-odd vendors had already been signed up to offer the convertible worldwide. Eight of them will be shipping product from today. ®

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