Intel Classmate Coming to Consumers, Lacks Atom

classmate1.JPGBack with more news on the low-cost laptop war. We didn’t have the Classmate PC on our original chart of Eee PC killers because it wasn’t available to mature market customers. Until now. Today, Intel announced plans to make its Classmate PC widely available to the public. The company said that U.S. and European consumers will soon be able to buy the sub-$300 laptop originally intended for children in developing markets. An Intel spokesperson also confirmed that the Classmate is designed by Intel, but PC manufacturers will produce it like other personal computers using Intel chips. The Classmate will be priced between $250 and $350; price is dependent on the OEM’s software and design decisions. Intel also revealed its plans to launch a second generation of the Classmate in the coming weeks. The second generation will provide more choices for manufacturers. The Intel spokesperson declined to comment if we would see OEM announcements around the launch of the Classmate 2. Either way, the second Classmate will not run the Atom line of processors; it will maintain its Celeron chip. Few would question Intel’s move to widely distribute the Classmate. Bundle the success of the Eee PC and our child reviewer’s love of the machine and you’ve got a recipe for success. For those that follow the Intel/OLPC rivalry, things aren’t looking good over at OLPC. In response to the  growing number of low-cost laptops, Nicholas Negroponte told us that “Most of these new laptops, much as I love them, are cost-downs of office productivity machines. Nobody else has really looked at it (yet) and a design-up for children and learning.” I’d say the Classmate doesn’t fall into that category Negroponte is talking about.

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