A Kid-Friendly Laptop (Intel Convertible Classmate PC)


When I was asked to review the Intel Convertible Classmate PC, I realized I would need help from my six year old daughter Ella, who is just discovering computers at school. The Classmate is geared toward kids ages 6+ so being a fearless 6 year old, she sounded like the perfect tester.

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The Classmate is a smallish (10.5'?) laptop that has all the power and features of a regular laptop except it has several features that make it child-friendly:

  • Durable '?? covered in rubberized coating making it somewhat more immune to spills and bounces
  • Flexible '?? can be used as a laptop or a tablet
  • Kid-sized, light and equipped with retractable handle that makes it easy to carry
  • Kid-optimized '?? lots of features geared towards kids including touchscreen, built in stylus, moveable camera, super long battery life, and more

We don'??t allow much screen time at home so Ella was excited to tear in and get going. She dove right into the games, but got a little frustrated learning to use the touchpad, which was new to her. In no time however, she had gotten the hang of it and was soon visiting the educational websites she uses for school. Built with an Intel Atom processor, the Classmate ($624) had plenty of speed to make accessing these sites a breeze. Ella found it especially helpful to have the large icons that appear on the desktop in Windows 7 (the result of a program that runs on top of Windows 7).

We tried out the cool feature that lets you twist the screen around so that the PC converts into a tablet PC that is only slightly bigger than an iPad. While Ella still finds my iPad a more intuitive device, she found the Classmate much easier and faster to use for surfing to her favorite websites for practicing math and reading.

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Apart from a few frustrations of being a Mac user navigating a Windows machine, Ella was thrilled.

Intel doesn'??t sell the Classmate directly '?? it relies on third party vendors to sell slightly different versions of the Classmate under different names. In the US, you can choose from CTL'??s 2Go PC, Equus'?? NOBi-Convertible, or M&A;'??s Companion Touch. All retail for around $450 '?? a great value considering you are getting a full powered netbook loaded with all the added kid-specific features.

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