New rugged laptop for grades K-8

Lenovo and Intel Corporation recently announced the Lenovo Classmate+ PC, a rugged laptop designed specifically for use by students in grade K-8. The device, which is based on Intel's Learning Series reference design, is drop-resistant and spill resistant, and comes pre-loaded with Intel Learning Series software.

The Classmate+ boasts a 10.1-inch LED backlit screen, an Intel Atom N455 processor, 1GB RAM (expandable to 2GB), and a choice of either an SSD or a standard hard drive. "The core operating system is Windows 7, with connectivity offered through built in Wi-Fi [and] Ethernet and a 1.3MP camera for video recording and image capture," writes Geek.com's Brett James. "There's also a 4-in-1 card reader and USB ports to support additional content."

Michael Schmedlen, Lenovo's Director of Worldwide Education, says his company is committed to creating education solutions that improve schools' efficiency. "Our work with Intel to offer products like the Lenovo Classmate+ PC will create more opportunities for K-8 administrators, teachers and students to realize the benefits of technology-enriched 1:1 learning experiences," he says.

Still, as Engadget's Joanna Stern notes, the laptops won't be available in stores. "[They] will be sold in bulk to educational institutions or agencies, primarily in the developing world," she writes. "And the Classmate+ is off to a great start--158,000 are already set to be deployed this spring in Buenos Aires."

While pricing for the Classmate+ hasn't been announced (Lenovo says it will vary based on regional taxes, tariffs and configuration options), ZDNet's Christopher Dawson says it's safe to assume it'll be aggressive. "Economies of scale are a school's best friend. … With high worldwide demand and low component prices, the company can reach as many students globally as possible with very cost-effective devices," he writes.

As eWeek's Michelle Maisto notes, competitors HP and Dell are also targeting the education market with a wide range of offerings. "In February, HP further expanded its offerings for the segment with the HP Digital Learning Suite," she writes. "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 as 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."