Mini Laptops for Classroom Use

CTL 2go PC
CTL 2go PC

I got my hands on two mini laptops at ACPE this week, the CTL 2go PC and the HP 2133 Mini Note PC. Along the same lines as the ASUS eeePC and the XO, they promise to provide a low-cost device that is suitable for basic classroom use. The HP appears to be just a low-cost version of a regular laptop, whereas the CTL 2go sports a carrying handle and rugged case. The 2go is also less expensive: $379 for the Linux version. The HP keyboard is nearly normal size, whereas the 2go has small keys. While I am sure that these fit kids’ fingers just fine, will they have any difficulty adjusting from full-size and small keyboard formats?

HP 2133 Mini Note
HP 2133 Mini Note PC

Although both models offer a Windows option, I can’t believe that the computers would remain useful for more than a couple of years running Windows XP on an underpowered processor. With Linux, we would have to learn to manage Linux on the desktop for the first time, but the machines would likely last longer. We would also have the opportunity to choose a Linux distribution with a super kid-friendly user interface. We will evaluate and purchase a handful of these devices next year with an eye to purchasing classroom units by next summer. I would like to hear your experiences with inexpensive, classroom laptops.

4 comments

  1. Jason says:

    Hi Richard,

    I have used the eeePC with Windows XP installed, but bumped the RAM up to 2GB and a 16GB SDHC card. It was usable, but the price with RAM and extra storage basically pushed it into a price bracket where it is competing with low cost laptops like the Vostro 1310. The Vostro has 2GB of RAM, a 160GB hard disk, a Core 2 Duo processor, and the battery lasts much longer (more than 5 hours with the 9 cell). It is 13", which makes it considerable larger, but unless the small size is an absolute must, the Dell simply is a better choice.

    It they could get the ultraportable laptops down to 200USD, I could see them really catching on in education. But for 400+ for a machine with low power and awful battery life? Hopefully when the new eeePC comes out based on the Atom processor the battery life will improve.

    I have to agree with you though that running Linux on the non-upgraded machine makes it much more usable than Windows. Apparently, Asus is working with Windows to produce a slimmed-down version of Windows XP for their eeePC line.

  2. Chris Lehmann says:

    How’d you get your hands on an HP?

  3. Richard says:

    It was at the Micro both in the opening cocktail social, probably before you arrived.

    http://k12connected.com

  4. Jim Heynderickx says:

    I plan to pick up a MSI Wind when in the states.

    In some ways, a low enough price point could point toward a shorter expected tour of duty. A $500-600 unit doing two years might make more sense than a $1200 unit trying to do four years.

    Additionally, for MS, I wonder if a lower cost, simplier computer could lead to family ownership and maintenace. For example, on my eeePC, I very much like how it reimages itself if you reboot hitting the F9 key. The idea of having students be able to simply reimage from a hidden partition is appealing.

    See you in July.