Way back in the dim reaches of time (2006), Intel got interested in the education laptop market. I’m sure you’ve seen the OLPC, right? Intel was inspired by that machine and they came up with the Classmate PC.
The Intel Classmate PC was originally conceived as reference design. It used an Intel CPU and low cost components to demonstrate a way for local developers to come up with a low cost laptop that could be used in schools. I don’t think they ever were actually low cost, but that was the idea.
The one at right is the latest models, and it looks a little different from the original concept design. It’s running Windows 7 on an Intel Atom 1.66GHz CPU with 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard disk, Wifi, 1.3MP webcam, speakers/mike, and it has a 10″ resistive touchscreen on a swivel.
It might seem high for the specs, but I checked a few sites (including Amazon) for similar laptops. Hardly anyone makes them anymore. This time last year I could have found at least a handful of models in the $400 to $1k range. Now I didn’t see anything new for less than $1200, aside from the Dell Inspiron Duo (unless I looked in the wrong place?).
I don’t know about you, but this shift in the market is far more interesting than the laptop.
Laptop convertibles similar to the one above used to be a solid segment of the laptop market. It wasn’t big, but it’s been around for years. And now it’s gone. If I had to guess, I would bet that tablets killed it off. To be more exact, I think the iPad killed off the laptop convertible. Once people had a good tablet experience the extra hardware and maintenance cost of a laptop convertible just wasn’t worth the expense, IMO.
Of course, from a personal aspect I have to say I find this more than a little amusing. I’ve always been vaguely intending to buy a laptop convertible, and today I learned that the supply has dried up. Whoops.
On the other hand, I already have a tablet/laptop hybrid; it’s the eeePad Transformer. It’s very good at what it does, but I do wish I had a similar device that ran Windows.