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Intel announces third-generation Classmate PC

Mini laptop will be 'more user-friendly'

Intel has confirmed that it's working on the third generation of its Classmate PC. Intel claims the third-gen Classmate PC will be more user-friendly.

The company declined to provide specific details on the updated hardware and software features, said but the new laptops will be announced in "a month or so". Intel also declined to provide more specific shipping or pricing information.

Overhauling the laptop includes a design update. The third generation Intel Classmate laptops will have a new look and feel, Agnes Kwan, an Intel spokeswoman said. The changes are based on feedback Intel got from educators and students using Classmate PCs, Kwan added.

The Classmate PC was originally designed as an educational laptop for kids in developing countries. The laptop's latest iteration, Classmate 2, was announced earlier this year, and Intel expanded its availability to the general market through PC makers.

For mainstream users, the Classmate PC is designed as a no-frills laptop that can be used for basic applications such as surfing the web and checking email. Today the Classmate PC is available in 35 countries through 30 PC makers, Kwan said. Actronix is selling the JumPC, based on the Classmate PC design, in the UK for £239.

A user interface for the new Classmate laptop could be a version of Sugar, originally developed for One Laptop Per Child's XO laptop, an educational laptop for children in developing countries. Intel is pushing for the development of Sugar for Classmate PCs through Sugar Labs Foundation, which has assigned a community volunteer to work with Intel on Sugar.

Although not official, the Sugar interface has already been shown to work on the Classmate PC on OLPC News, an enthusiast website.

Intel also announced that it is shipping the current Classmate 2 with updated hardware, adding speed and memory capabilities.

The laptop now has Atom processors running at 1.6Ghz and supports up to 1GB of RAM. Earlier versions of Classmate included an Intel Celeron processor running at 900MHz and supported up to 256M bytes of RAM. Intel originally talked about the inclusion of the Atom processor earlier this year. Other hardware features for the new Classmate 2 include an 8.9in screen and hard drive storage of up to 30GB.

Intel is working with the Portuguese government to ship some of the new Classmate 2 PCs with Atom processors to around 500,000 basic-level students for the upcoming school year, Kwan said.

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