Intel To Sell Ultra-Cheap Classmate PC To Americans

Great news, America: Intel’s ultra-cheap Classmate PC isn’t just for impoverished third-world schoolchildren anymore! The chipmaker today announced plans to sell the notebook domestically in the coming months. Intel insists its sub-notebook isn’t designed to compete with the non-profit One Laptop Per Child project, which is powered by chips from Intel’s rival, AMD, but they have aggressively moved to undercut OLPC wherever possible. The laptop will likely cost Americans less than $500.

Although the second-generation laptop is expected to cost from $250 to $350 to make, it would be priced higher for retail sale after it’s loaded with various software applications, Kwan said.

She noted that the computer’s price and features are still being hashed out between Intel and the companies considering making it, which she declined to name. Whichever company eventually manufactures the new machine might choose to make several versions, each loaded with different combinations of applications and selling for different prices.

Those options will be brought up in a meeting Intel plans to have with some computer manufacturing executives soon. “We are going to talk about the next generation features of it in the next couple of weeks,” Kwan said.

In fairness, we have an OLPC and think its open-source approach is morally and technically superior for new computer users. That said, it hangs unused in our bathroom because it’s useless compared to our other computers.

Would you consider buying the Classmate or one of its competitors for yourself or your kids? Tell us why in the comments.

Intel to offer low-cost laptop [Mercury News]
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ChuckECheese says:

    Perhaps we are the recipients of this corporate largesse because the third world doesn’t like Linux-based OSes either.

  2. XianZhuXuande says:

    It better be a lot cheaper than $500 to be considered even for a moment. $500 can get you a regular Vista-compatible (for those who actually want Vista) laptop which would be far more feature complete. Toss in another $100 or $200 and you have a decent machine with a good processor.

  3. visualbowler says:

    i also have a OLPC and it too sits almost unused due to its boring and uselessness

  4. dreamcatcher2 says:

    The EEE PC is probably the most relevant supercheap subnotebook, with its three base models already having estimated sales around 700,000 units, and several new and improved models to be released in the next three months (I can’t wait!) But the EEE and OLPC are just the first-entrants in a rapidly ballooning market as companies “race to the bottom” of the laptop market. Check out this article detailing some of the new and upcoming competitors: []

  5. mikeluisortega says:

    LOL $500? You can pick up ok lappys from CC and BB for less then $500. Needs to be $300 at the most to be competitive.

  6. spanky says:

    I got an XO and I’m really happy with it.

    I work at home, so I don’t have much use for a business laptop. I mostly use it for reading ebooks, simple internet stuff (like reading my RSS feeds and email), and some quick and dirty work related notetaking, and it works beautifully for that. If I actually needed a full-on, grownup laptop for work, though, I can see where it’d be disappointing.

    I’ve also been enjoying playing around with Sugar more than I expected. I was originally planning to replace it with a grownup OS, but it’s too fun for me to get rid of. I can definitely see how the XO is a great learning tool, and the open source focus is a really important part of that. The hardware and the software on the XO don’t just allow for tinkering, but actively encourage it.

    The Classmate does look pretty cool, but the approach doesn’t seem as cohesive as OLPC’s. The screen is smaller and doesn’t have the display quality of the XO, and it just seems to lack some of the attention to detail that makes the XO design so innovative. (The LIFO batteries, swiveling screen, the badass wireless capabilities, etc.)

    And it’s worth noting that the $400 you spent through G1G1 bought two XOs, and the Classmate might sell for double that.

  7. dreamcatcher2 says:

    PS, for anyone else obsessed with the subnotebook market, there are a wealth of blogs out there. [] is a nice general one, although it started out just talking about the eee.

  8. Karl says:

    I actually use the XO as my primary laptop now. I mainly do two things with laptops: remote desktop into a more powerful machine, and watch TV/DVDs. The XO can do the first out-of-the box (use rdesktop or vncviewer), and the second is easily doable with a bit of tinkinering. mplayer works surprisingly well on it.

  9. nardo218 says:

    I’d think you could find something with more bells and whistles for the same price or less on Ebay or at a used computer store.

  10. ghettoimp says:

    Eh… regular desktop machines are already cheaper than that, plus they’re more durable and easier to upgrade.

    Also, I think I missed the meeting where we decided schoolchildren need laptops. What was the rationale for that again? Is the music department complaining about getting too much funding again? I knew we should have done something about that…

  11. Mollyg says:

    I have an XO also, and it is great for traveling and coffee shops. Also the StarChart program makes a good companion for stargazing. I believe that the usefulness of the XO will increase as the software gets improved and more programs are written. The XO hardware is great and the software justs needs to catch up.

    I think that these low cost, low power (the XO uses 10% the power of other computers), lightweight and open source laptops will be great for travelers, people always on the move, and others. They would also allow each kid in a big household to have their own computer without costing a fortune.

  12. synergy says:

    Considering where the U.S. dollar has been going, maybe they think the U.S. is becoming a third world country sooner or later. :-p

  13. StevieD says:

    I would love a cheap “laptop” to haul between work and home just to fiddle with stuff. But, by time I load it with software to be compatible with my main PC there will be little chance that the computer will be cheap and thus even less of a chance that I would buy one.

  14. Alex Brewer says:

    Laptops are an amazing tool in third world countries. Books are expensive, rare, and don’t have very much potential for cost. The OLPC aims to give access to the the wealth of knowledge of the internet along with hundreds of text books in dozens of languages to the poorest children in the world. With an education, these children will have the tools to help combat poverty. These laptops aren’t really aimed at American schools.

  15. Blackneto says:

    @Alex Brewer: you nailed it man.
    Here in the states people forget how easy it is to walk by and ignore a library.

  16. lemur says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting one of those subnotebooks for my niece. From what I understand, the XO at least has been designed to handle abuse and spills. My niece is still young and careless enough that there’s a real risk that she’d break a regular laptop within a week. I can’t see buying one for myself though.

    (Opinions that another solution would be better will be ignored if they are voiced without solid supporting evidence.)

  17. snoop-blog says:

    i wouldn’t pay more than $174.99 for this thing- if that. $99-$125 sounds more reasonable.

  18. parnote says:

    $500? I don’t think they’ve found the appropriate price barrier to attract users. I recently purchased my wife a Dell Vostro 1000 (AMD 64 3200 Sempron, 1GB Memory, 120GB HD, DVD-RW, 15.4″ screen, built-in 802.11g wireless) for under $400. Add in a beefier battery, and I’m STILL out less than $450. And my recently purchased refurbished IBM ThinkPad (P3, 512MB, 30GB HD, DVD-ROM) was obtained for less than 1/2 the $500 price tag this offering from Intel costs. And that was complete with WinXP, which was easily upgraded to WinXP SP2 without a hitch! And all this, despite the fact that the used laptop was originally purchased with the intention to install Linux on it, but Linux’s rather spotty support for wireless internet adapters has (so far!) kept me from continuing down that path.

  19. chemmy says:

    Uhhhh I just bought a brand new Compaq Presario that was on sale at Staples… Total price? $430

    WTF are they thinking?

  20. ? Final ? says:

    $500 I can think of 10 other things I’d rather spent the money on then a low end Laptop that’s not going to have all the options I want on it.

  21. ChuckECheese says:

    @dreamcatcher2: This article was an eye-opener. I didn’t realize notebooks and sub-notebooks were so small and inexpensive. I purchased a small IBM notebook last year and it wasn’t $400.

    @ghettoimp: Your claims are correct, but notebooks are so convenient and portable. In 17 years of computer ownership, I have never had a desktop.

    @Blackneto: Even in the U.S., many areas have poor libraries. The libraries in my city are a joke, pretty much worthless for anything but bestseller fiction and DVDs. I’m sure U.S. children would also benefit from inexpensive computer access and distribution of e-books on a wide number of topics.

  22. JustaConsumer says:

    Intel sucks. They did this to compete with the one-laptop-per-child. Now they are trying to cover up. They should be ashamed.

  23. arogue says:

    You have it hanging in your bathroom? Odd spot to keep it.

  24. Mary says:

    @XianZhuXuande: That’s what I was thinking. When OLPC came out with their Buy One, Give One program, I asked my husband if maybe it would be worthwhile for me to get one. I’ll need a machine that would do word processing and browse the internet, nothing more. I have a desktop computer for all the good stuff.

    He did about ten minutes of research and figured out that for the same price I could have something much better and more appropriate for me. So I passed. Then, as luck would have it, I have a friend who upgraded their laptop and I bought their old one. It does everything I could want one to do, and for a LOT less because it’s used.

    Seems a much better route to go. (Especially since said friend is a software engineer and can fix any problems that might arise).

    I have to say though that making a cheap computer and selling it for $500 without the bonus of being able to give a laptop to a child in another country is…not even a third as charitable and ruins any reason I might have to get this. Intel is really just coming off looking a little dumb here. They’re being competitive when OLPC was being charitable.