Intel, Lenovo Classmate+ PC for Classrooms Now Available

Intel and Lenovo, which each say they have a heritage in the education market, now offer the Classmate+ rugged notebook for grades K through 8.

Lenovo and Intel have teamed up to offer the Lenovo Classmate+ PC, a rugged notebook for students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. Built to stand up to the challenges of young users, they feature spill-resistant keyboards, rugged exteriors and built-in handles, giving the notebooks a sturdy clamshell appearance.

The notebooks come preloaded with Intel's Learning Series software suite and, the pair said in a March 10 statement, "specialized educational software and a variety of teaching resources." The notebooks additionally feature 10.1-inch LED backlit displays, Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, a 1.3-megapixel Webcam, storage up to 250GB and solid-state drive options, multiple USB ports and a 4-in-1 card reader for viewing multimedia.

"Lenovo is the first multinational company to offer the Intel Learning Series classmate PC for the global education market," Kapil Wadhera, general manager of Intel's Education Markets Platforms Group, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to welcome Lenovo to the Intel Learning Series Alliance and to work with them to extend the platforms' availability to benefit more students and teachers around the world."

Kicking off the device's deployment, this spring Lenovo will ship 158,000 of the Classmate+ laptops to Buenos Aires, as part of a one-on-one computing program through the Organization of Ibero-American States.

More than simply a rugged little notebook, Intel says it contributed years of ethnographic research in education to the PC's development. For its part, Lenovo has a Learning Environment division in North Carolina that reportedly evaluates educational technology, offers resources for teachers to help them develop their skills and provides feedback to students testing the PCs.

"As the fastest-growing PC company in education, we are committed to creating education solutions that improve schools' efficiency, as well as leading initiatives to evaluate how technology can measurably improve learning outcomes," Michael Schmedlen, director of Worldwide Education at Lenovo, said in a statement.

While available now, the notebooks can only be ordered by qualifying educational and government customers though a Lenovo salesperson or channel partner. Described as "affordable," the notebooks' pricing nonetheless wasn't disclosed by the pair, which said it will vary by market, regional taxes and configurations.

Lenovo competitors Hewlett-Packard and Dell also are in the education market and have each launched fairly rugged netbooks for young learners.

In February, HP further expanded its offerings for the segment with the HP Digital Learning Suite. Made up of six components, it includes a tablet-like device called the Sketch; a Pocket Whiteboard-a vaguely ruler-shaped device that extends whiteboard functionality to surfaces such a wall or desk; a MultiSeat t150 thin client that enables 10 students to share a single host computer; a rolling Presentation Station 1000 cart, that stores just about everything a teacher could need; and a 20-notebook Charging Cart.

An HP executive described the suite as a solution to "better prepare students for whatever environment they'll face-in school and out."