The new Convertible Classmate is a tablet PC with a touch screen that swivels, which Intel claims makes data input easier.
The Classmate is a rival to Asus' Eee PC and as well as being marketed as an educational laptop for kids in developing countries, it will also be available in the general market. The touch-screen interface makes software more interactive and easier for kids to use, Intel said.
The Classmate is a reference design created by Intel, but the laptops are actually shipped by PC makers throughout the world. PC makers will discuss their plans to ship Convertible Classmate products at CES, an Intel spokeswoman said. Laptops built by using the reference design will become available in early 2009.
The new laptop has a clamshell design with an 8.9in screen. The screen can be used with either a stylus or a finger. There is also an option to rest palms on the touch screen while inputting data.
The laptop has a number of other bells and whistles, including an accelerometer that changes the display's orientation horizontally or vertically depending on the laptop's position.
The Convertible Classmate will run on an Intel Atom processor and come loaded with either the Windows or Linux OS.
With the new Classmate, Intel is a step ahead of its other competitor, the XO laptop from nonprofit One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), which plans to offer a touch-screen interface in its XO-2 laptop, due to ship in 2010. The XO-2 will include a software-based, touch-sensitive keyboard and two touch-screen displays.
The laptop is also an upgrade from the current Classmate PC, which is widely known as Classmate 2. Classmate 2 is a no-frills laptop without a touch screen that can be used for basic applications such as surfing the web and checking email. Priced at around $300 (£194), Classmates do include many of the basic features found in laptops today, like USB ports and wireless networking capabilities.
Intel's Classmate2 mini laptop
See also: Intel Classmate PC 3 adds touchscreen