Netbooks and Windows 7 Beta
At the start of the week we were talking about the use of remote applications and rolling out laptops to students at Twynham School. As yet we haven’t gone beyond trialling laptops due to a number of key factors. Firstly price is the greatest issue as I would like to create a sustainable system where parental contribution and pump priming by the school can create a self financing system.
Looking at the state of the market in August while on holiday in New York, I was excited to see the maturation of netbooks with much greater range due to the arrival of big players such as Dell. In addition size and spec has increased significantly with many models now offering a 10 inch laptop, full or near full keyboard size and 1GB RAM. For me this development has been essential and makes a netbook a viable first machine for students. Any smaller and screen size, keyboard and power become an issue for many of the applications we want to use with students who will be using the devices for many hours a day.
What about the OS? Well we would prefer to use Windows and this has been a real issue. Most machined come with XP loaded if you want to go the windows route. This is a two pronged issue as XP is now 7 years old and the home version prevents connection to a domain. In truth the real issue has been the difficulty of loading Vista on the netbooks we have, For us the compromise in performance was too great and in November we took the decision that we needed to wait and see what happens with Windows 7 and notebook launches at CES.
I am pleased to say that on both counts we have good news. Already a number of people have loaded Windows 7 Beta onto their netbooks and they are impressed with the stability and performance. With less than half of the RAM used by the OS and a much smaller footprint in terms of hard drive all the signs are that Windows 7 will be our roll out point for netbooks. Take a look at this video
As for netbooks, there have been quite a few launched at CES and I am really interested in the new ASUS T101H. With a touch screen and tablet functionality this could well be the answer to schools that want pc access everywhere but still want to see regular hand writing alongside this.
My own opinion is that we will see both a maturation and convergence between low end laptops and netbooks to create a perfect solution for education in the next three years. I think that this ideal machine will have the following specs:
12 inch screen
Full size keyboard
Windows 7 OS
8 hour battery life
£200 price point
Of course there are more elements to this but these 7 features are likely to produce a cost effective powerful machine that is mobile enough for students. I think this development will take 18 months-3 years but what would I choose if I was rolling our netbooks to students this year? I will discuss this tomorrow.