OLPC is the one that started it all, with its $199 netbook for school children in developing nations, and its seems as though more companies are jumping on the bandwagon each year. HP this week announced the release of the HP Mini 100e, a netbook aimed at primary school children, and joined the likes of Dell, OLPC and Intel in the educational laptops market.
The HP Mini 100e is a pretty standard netbook specs-wise. It packs Intel's N455 Atom processor; 1 GB of DDR3 RAM; a 160GB hard drive; a 10-inch display; Ethernet (and a modem in case it's being used by a school in a country with older infrastructure) along with the option for 802.11b/g WiFi; and a choice of Windows 7 Starter, XP or SUSE Linux Enterprise 11.
However, the Mini 100e has a few extra features that bring the basic netbook up to the standard required in a classroom. The laptop is pretty rugged and the almost full-size keyboard (92 percent) is spill resistant. There's also an LED light on the lid that lights up when the user is online, meaning teachers can keep an eye out for kids surfing the web when they shouldn't be. One thing we can see being a problem is the weight. CNet reports that these things weigh in at about 3.2 pounds, which is pretty heavy for a kid to carry around.
Pricing starts at $299, which could get pretty expensive if you're looking at getting 20 or so of them for a whole class. HP is selling directly to educational institutes for now, so no personal sales for the moment, and expected availability is July.