Thursday, April 3
Some years ago, there was a push to find a way to make computers easily available to those that would not otherwise have the resources to buy one. It was the plot of "The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest," (good movie, by the way.) Of course, we're a ways away from holograms. Maybe not in the near future, though.
Whether for purely ethical reasons or seeing the need to exploit an untapped market-- that of inexpensive this-is-all-I-need computing-- the chipmaker Intel put out a reference design for the Classmate PC. For the most part, it is designed to compete with Asus' EEE PC and OLPC's XO-1. According to some people's opinions, the XO-1 is floundering. The machine is brilliant, however. It's a classy piece of hardware reminiscent of those old V-Tech toy laptops with the monochromatic LCD display panel the size of a few postage stamps. It's got a handle and is incredibly durable, by all accounts. As a bonus; the third-world countries it's marketed to can use it to bludgeon potential food... Ahem, where was I?
The EEE PC, however is raking in millions, to the point where the EEE can be described as the Wii of computers with 50000x more quantity. It's also got an awesome fan-base that are some of the most helpful people when it comes to the EEE. The problem some people have, which will soon be eliminated, is that the EEE PC only cames with the Xandros distribution of Linux, something not many people are familiar with. Many people are warming up to it, though. Will Linux ever be the OS of choice? I hope not. It gives me that feeling of individuality, that knowledge you have that you feel someone else doesn't, some sort of secret.
Regardless of the operating system of choice, Asus had established itself in the ultra-portable laptop market before the released the EEE. Now they are a powerful name in the low-cost market as well. A version with Windows XP is to be sold later this month in stores and online, which will surely print money, as if it already doesn't.
But where does Intel fit into all this? While OLPC and Asus were making a lot of public noise over their portables, Intel was selling their reference design to several manufacturers in other countries like India and the like. Now, they're into the second generation of Classmate, which you should see in the picture above. CTL is putting it out as the 2goPC. It should be on sale through Amazon, if it isn't already. Supposedly, it's able to withstand the small drops and usual wear and tear a normal bookbag tossed about by a kid would take. That's probably the reason it's being sold to the education markets and the like. Pictures show it with a handle jutting from the back of it, I'm unsure of whether or not it is detachable or not. If it is, woohoo. If it isn't, well I can always cut it off. I don't have a use for it, personally. I've got a few bags I can use with it.
What's bad, though, is that I have a terrible penchant for gadgets. Always on the lookout for the next big thing. Right now, what I've got in my pocket is a Nokia n800 looking for a new home. To be quite honest, I thought it could fill in some of the holes that would normally be filled by a laptop. Really, though, it's just not up to snuff without a physical keyboard. My main mistake was that I thought it could replace a notebook entirely, but in reality it'd be a better companion device.
All this is jibber-jabber, though. So it's either the EEE or the 2goPC for me. I'll figure it out.