Certainly not a toy!

Posted on December 12, 2007  /  11 Comments

Intel classmate PC

When asked this was Intel’s response to the $ 100 (er…$ 176) laptop, pat came the reply: “Yeah, you could call that” It is meant for children, but classmate PC is not a toy. It is a tiny version of a fully pledged PC. (512 M memory 2 GB in a flash, though no hard drive) The screen size is smaller, but on the other hand it is not easy to break even if you dropped it from a height. (Yes, they demonstrated it!)

This was seen at the GK3 exhibition at Kuala Lumpur Conventional Centre where the so-called $100 green coloured OLPC laptop was a notable absentee. By the way Intel classmate costs $220, and will be available for the governments to buy in bulk

A product brochure is available here


  1. I did in fact spot one XO laptop in one of the rather unfortunately titled MOO stalls at GKP. No official presence though, which was surprising. Having used both, the XO is in terms of technical innovation, way ahead of the Intel Classmate. I also find Sugar to be far more intuitive and user friendly than Windows.

  2. Hi Sanjana,

    I too have used both, but sorry, allow me to disagree. Technical innovation is not everything. More important is the usefulness and classmate can do many things OLPC cannot.

    Anyway, neither is perfect. The costs are still too high. Unless the governments are ready to buy in bulk (which is doubtful) both efforts will be history by soon. Discussed this sometime back. http://www.lirneasia.net/2007/11/developing-world-not-sure-100-er-176-laptop-is-what-they-need

    I think a better way is to encourage and facilitate second hand PC markets. A PC discarded from an office after 3-5 years lifetime can be still used by a child to learn. In fact, in some places out of date PCs are available in the market in mint condition at an affordable prices less than US$ 100. (These are the ones that lost demand because market bypasses them with better models)

    At Mahavilachchiya in Sri Lanka, they have a scheme where a child has to collect Rs. 5,000 (about US$ 45) and a private donor matches the same figure to buy a second hand PC. This does not solve the problems of Internet access, for which they might have to visit a tele-centre or cyber cafe. Not an ideal solution but more workable.

  3. I manage to look at the Intel one, but missed to use OLPC though am aware of the features and other. It appears these 2 devices works for 2 different markets and OLPC is ideal for village level/no-power sort of areas.

    For me, It was a real surprise to see Intel has come up with a laptop which can be used by children with a focus towards education/learning etc. When Dr. Barrette (Chairman, Intel Corp) visited Sri Lanka in 2005 December, I asked him about the OLPC and Nagraponte’s vision etc. He said “OLPC-100$ laptop is a gadget not a computer and if intel is doing something like that it will be with full computing power”. However, though there is no clear proper 100$ laptops yet, it seems like even big boys have bought over Mr. Nagraponte’s OLPC Vision which is remarkable. I am sure in another 2 years time there will be plenty of low cost laptop’s coming out from various Taiwan/China based manufactures so there will be many players in the space.

    Till that happen, I too agree with chanuka for counters like Sri Lanka you can get a reasonably good 2nd hand PC for about 100$. The digital butterfly project initiated in MV was a very good initiative and it has worked out well at that time. (I wonder this is still functioning???) However, as mentioned internet access is the issue. But with Wi-Max/3G and perhaps with pre-paid low cost offerings by teleco’s in future, children in places like MV can start using internet.

    I’ve learnt from Intel people that some laptops were sent to Sri Lanka. However with a US$ 220/- price tag, it’s not feasible for mass rollout. Way I figured out the Intel laptop is more like a entry level laptop of children in the age of perhaps 7-12 in much more developed countries and not for developing countries/emerging markets. It’s good for entry level use for children in developed nations.

  4. Thanks Chanuka and Harsha for bringing the focus into Digital Butterflies – A computer for each home – project in Mahavilachchiya. (Harsha too has contributed to this project to buy the 2nd PC under the project.) In fact the project is being spread to other villages as well now. A donor from Canada (Sri Lankan) has promised to help for 25 used PCs to five other villages. Let’s see if MIT or Intel will suit to DB project as well. It would be good to have a brand new machine with a warrenty but most of the kids in villages use the PCs for graphic/web designing stuff. It looks too early for e-learning content usage in the villages even though some schools have been given computer labs. 15-20 PCs in a lab for 500 students doesnt seem sufficient for e-learning. Hope things will change faster and e-learning can be introduced sooner than later. Right now I am in a distant village and helping some children over here and only part of the village has got electricity. A PC is not among the priority list of most of the parents but the kids have already started saving money for DB PCs. It is hightime we started an initiative to incorporate DB/MIT/Intel into one project and let the whole country benefit from it. Let the children chose what to go for. Hope such an alliance would not be impossible.

  5. These are both nobel efforts. However looking at a second hand desktop PC which requires large amounts of electricity to run and is certainly not mobile, the XO allows the user to hand crank the PC and get up 2 30 minutes of power before having to crank again.

    The very rugged construction and built in wifi, which the XO actually has quite a bit longer range than a standard laptop because of the little ears which act as antennas, as well as a built in digital camera and many built in educational programs.

    The child is able to transport this to and from school as well, so family members can make use of the computer and learn about them while the child is at home.

    They do need to bring the cost down however, about 70 dollars in bulk would really allow many school systems to skip books completely and go with a computer based system.

  6. Text Gamer,

    I am sure both are noble efforts. However, the question is usefulness.

    Have you ever used XO? I have used and I am afraid that I find no use of it for anyone other than a kid in the 6-12 year range. The question is how many families at the BoP (so-called Bottom of the Pyramid) level will be able to afford it for their kids.

    Bringing the cost down to US$ 70 will not be a viable option unless at least few govts orders in bulk quantities over a million units. Will this ever happen? I seriously doubt.

  7. As with the great new buzzword the the good Prof. introduced to us at GK III, I guess the way forward could be see all these devices and proposals for the enablement / empowerment of those without access to ICT as complementary.

    Re your point about the OLPC, it can also do many things the Classmate cannot – such deconstruct the OS for example, and create new apps. It isn’t affected by viruses or blue screen errors and has A/V functionality, and group collaboration capabilities built in. It’s screen is many years ahead of the traditional LCD used by the classmate. I toyed around with a pre-production model in Liverpool earlier this year and though I am by no means a fan or convert to Nick’s evangelism re the device, it is an impressive technical achievement and may in some small way, along with Intel (initially against it but now with it…) can help disadvantaged communities around the world.

    Provided of course governments buy them (and they don’t seem to be too enthusiastic to do so at the moment) and in countries such as Sri Lanka, they actually go to whom they are intended, instead of Christmas and Avurudu presents for the kids of those in power…

  8. Perhaps Donald can buy some of these laptops, install his Sinhala package and distribute among kids in Sri Lanka. Sure way to market his 1660 unicode.


  9. Not entirely related, but I wonder whether anyone else noticed that the Classmates at GK III were running unlicensed copies of Windows XP? :-)

  10. Dear Lokka

    Ask ICTA to approve my grant which was rejected. Then I cam perform your request

    Donald Gaminitillake

  11. Intel today resigned from the One Laptop Per Child Project’s board of directors after refusing a request to abandon its Classmate PC program.

    article in washingtonpost.com — http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/03/AR2008010303527.html?nav=rss_technology