Toshiba and Intel’s New CM1 Tablet Joins Crowded School PC Space

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With competition from HP, the OLPC, and elsewhere now heating up in the school PC space, Intel is teaming with Toshiba on the new Toshiba CM1, a lunchbox-style tablet PC for elementary and junior high school students in Japan.

Designed around the Intel Classmate PC, Toshiba’s CM1 features a monitor that rotates 180 degrees, a touch screen LCD supporting pen input, a slip-resistance rubber coating, and a handle for toting the tablet around school.

Toshiba CM1Toshiba’s new tablet can also connect wirelessly to projects and electronic blackboards in the classroom, allowing kids to show their work and collaborate with each other.

“The CM1 tablet PC for education is based on Intel® Learning Series…hardware reference design for developing education-use PCs worldwide and Toshiba’s notebook PC technologies, such as robust, shock-resistant designs and low power consumption,” according to a jointly released statement.

Intel’s reference design for Classmate is also being used by CTL and multiple other PC makers. From pictures of the CM1, Toshiba’s new tablet looks a lot like CTL’s Convertible Classmate tablet, but apparently without the built-in webcam. First rolled out at CES 2009, the Convertible Classmate also added a swiveling touchscreen to CTL’s original 2goPC school tablet. Toshiba expects the CM1 will be available in August.

Other specs include:

  • Windows® 7 Professional 32-bit
  • Intel® Atom™ Processor N450 (1.66 GHz)
  • Intel® NM10 Express Chipset
  • 10.1 inch, pressure-sensitive, LCD touch screen (1366×768)
  • Power-saving LED backlight
  • HDD/Memory 160GB/2GB
  • 100Base-TX/10Base-T
  • LAN (802.11a/b/g/n)
  • Rotary webcam
  • Stereo speaker
  • Microphone
  • 2 USB ports
  • 1 RGB

Meanwhile, in another new pact, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is now partnering with Marvell on a new tablet PC reference design. The new “Moby” design is aimed at attracting multiple PC manufacturers while lowering costs enough to let the OLPC reach its long-term goal of selling tablets for $100. Moby uses ARM processors in place of the Intel chips that have traditionally appeared in OLPC tablets.

The school PC market is highly price-sensitive. A couple of years ago, the OLPC and Intel’s Classmate both lost out to virtualization vendor NComputing in a bid to bring computing to 1.8 million schoolchildren in India. Instead of relying on individual tablet PCs, NComputing’s technology lets up to seven users – each equipped with a monitor and other peripherals – share a single computer simultaneously.

NComputing’s price of $70 per student sealed the deal. In comparison, the OLPC’s tablets are currently priced at $170, and most Intel Classmate PCs have sold for $399 or more.

Dell and HP are also players in school PCs. These two vendors have deeOLPC tabletp resources in both PC design and manufacturing on hand directly in-house. Hewlett-Packard stepped into the race last month with the HP Mini 100e Education Edition, a netbook designed to be resilient enough for primary school kids.

Outfitted with built-in handles, the netbook has a plastic case, strong alloy hinges with steel pin axles, and a spill-proof keyboard with a protective mylar film. Although priced at under $300, HP’s entry comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2010 starter edition.

At the same time, other companies are creating devices geared more toward the high school and college textbook markets. A start-up named Kno is now readying a textbook reader with dual 14-inch screens, meant to do a better job of displaying textbooks than the 10- or 12-inch screens of other e-readers.

Kno has already entered into partnerships with textbook makers McGraw-Hill (MHP), Pearson and Wiley, and Cengage Learning (CHC-WT).

Similarly, enTourage has already allied with Britannica, Elsevier, and others in the education industry on content for the eDGe, its new Android tablet and e-reader hybrid.




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