The best netbook for an education context?

June 3, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Netbooks 

Just before half term I was having a look around to see where we are with netbooks and came across something a little different from normal. Dell have done the hard work and thought about how to adapt a netbook to suit the educational environment. There may be more companies that have already done this but this is the first one which stood out to me. Although I am not recommending the product yet as I haven’t see it in the flesh or put it through the ultimate testing and feedback- students- I think it is worth everyone having a look at the video below. My first thoughts follow the video.

What I really loved

The thing that really caught my attention was the charging mechanism. I loved the cart which charges with simple slotting and think this is a big gain. I have spoken to three companies recently and when I asked about charging options for their products in a school context all said ‘I will get back to you’. So far none have and it is between 4-6 weeks since we met. Charging is always going to be a top 3 issue in schools.

I like the fact that there is touch screen as an option. Although I wish the video had shown the use of touch screen in a more imaginative way I really think touch screen is the future for education netbooks. The main reason for this in a secondary school is the use of One Note which I think is a product about to come of age. If I can run a netbook which can be used in the same ways as a computer room but also switch to fill the role of an exercise book then the cost savings in a school are huge.

What I am not so sure about

Although the casing does look very robust I wonder how students will feel about them looking so different than a standard laptop or even netbook. Will they look a bit cool and different or have a more ‘second class citizen’ feel to them. If this was the case then they would be dead in the water.

Are these netbooks a little more primary? It was interesting to see the students were more primary focused in the video. Although this is not a bad thing as it would be great to move the netbook agenda forward in primary education. At the same time younger students have very different tastes- younger students we showed the fizzbook for example loved it but our secondary students did not!

What are your thoughts?

I know a lot of people read the netbook posts so it would be great to hear your thoughts. If you have a minute add a comment with your thoughts on this product or if you know of any other education focused netbooks which are better.

Netbook price crash continues.

June 2, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Netbooks 

As many of you know I am a huge fan of netbooks and think that over the next 3 years they will have a decisive impact on the Education sphere. Some 5 weeks ago I promised a three parter on netbooks which never appeared as the fog of war which is exam season descended. I cant help but  return to this topic but the blog posts will not be the same. This is largely because the netbook market changes so rapidly, perhaps more than any other technology. I would however like to focus on four areas this month. Firstly today I will cover the continued drive down of pricing we are seeing both in the UK and US. From here I want to look at education specific offerings which have started to appear in the last few months. Later in the week I will cover a new netbook on the market from Asus which I think will bring One Note into one of the most important products in education. I will then wrap up with an overview of the 10 inch market as it currently stands and examine if the Samsung NC10 is still king in this field.

The netbook above is Dell’s Mini 10v. Dell is a huge player in the laptop market and although a relatively late starter to netbooks it is now starting to make an impact. This base model is available in the US at just $299 with an Intel Atom N270, 1GB Ram, 120GB Hard drive and 3 cell battery. Of course in the UK we would expect this to be more expensive and in truth often see the same pound price as dollar price. Excitingly this is not the case with The Dell Mini 10v which is available for £199. Looking in more detail however in the UK we are delivered a lower spec with Linux and an 8GB Solid State Drive for this price. An equivalent (and indeed slightly higher spec to the US version) is available for £249 so a slight premium for living on the other side of the Atlantic.

In September I predicted that a decent yet basic spec netbook would be available in two years for less than £200. It appears that is has taken only 9 months. Whilst I would still like to see specification improve with faster processors, graphics capability and 2GB RAM this machine is a massive step in the right direction. Tomorrow I will look at a Dell netbook made specifically for education which may prove revolutionary in the move towards mobile learning.