Posts Tagged ‘laptops’

Power struggle

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I am doing a lot of work with one-to-one laptop programs, especially with the new inexpensive ($300-ish) ones.

These laptops are well-suited for learning in so many ways, but one struggle we have is with power. Even with the best of the batteries, you can’t get through the day without recharging, and over time, battery life gets worse and worse.

For schools considering one-to-one programs, I think it essential that laptops be on students’ desks. (This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many schools put computers around the sides or back of a room. This is not conducive to effective integration!) A great way to make this work is with easy-to install power poles. In most rooms, two or three poles are enough.

If you are planning a new laptop implementation, don’t forget to plan for power!

Top of poles:

Power outlets at the bottom of poles:

The changing world of low-cost mini-laptops

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I’m still working on some kind of grid of all the new low-cost mini-laptops coming out, but I have to say that it’s a little difficult to keep up!

In particular, Asus seems to be coming out with new models all the time. Many are listed on their web site, though many don’t seem to be shipping yet, and a few are already being discontinued. Here are a few highlights of what I see in their product line:

* The 7″ models appear to be being phased out in favor of the new 9″ and 10″ models. (A possible exception to this is the 7″ 701SD.)
* The low end pricing seems to be hovering a little under $349, while the upper end models are going as high as $699. (There are rumors of a new $249 device in 2009.)
* Some new longer life batteries are coming out, addressing one of the criticisms of this device.

As it relates to school purchases, I worry about how much this product line is changing. It is difficult to start a one-to-one project with one model and then have to change models repeatedly as the program grows. On the other hand, this is the nature of mobile technology (especially when it’s geared toward the consumer market, which is almost always). More features, lower costs, more change … it’s a blessing and a curse.

It is will be interesting to see how stable Dell’s Inspiron Mini line is. (They don’t even seem to be shipping yet. Anyone used one?) Right now, the limited number of options and the general stability of Dell’s product line seems pretty appealing.

Dell’s new low-cost laptop

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

The long-rumored, low-cost laptop from Dell is now official: the Inspiron Mini 9 (currently available for pre-order only).

The prices start at $349 (not quite as low as had been rumored and hoped for, but prices generally fall over time) and go up to $449. Like other low-cost laptops, the lower end model ships with Linux (Ubuntu) and higher-priced models are available with XP. These models all ship with hard drives (4-16 GB) and wireless. Ports include USB (3), VGA out, Ethernet, headphone, mic, and a 3-in-1 media card reader. A web cam is optional.

Stay tuned for more info as these begin shipping. We’ll also be posting a comparison grid of the many new low-cost laptops soon.

Proliferation of new mobile devices

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

There have been several new mobile devices coming out, and now HP has one as well. The HP 2133 Mini-Notebook is $499 with Linux. (As with all of these new category devices, the price is quite a bit higher with xp.)

As the prices come down a bit (I think $300 is the sweet spot for education), these devices might be a good solution for a one-to-one computing device, falling somewhere between a handheld and a laptop. I am particularly interested in how Web 2.0 applications runs on these and what other educational programs are available.

Stay tuned for more on these new devices and their use in the classroom.

Side benefit of Web 2.0

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Here’s a nice side benefit to Web 2.0: When the batteries on your laptop die, you can just grab another one and keep working!

More thoughts on the Foleo….

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

After a few hours of reading more about the new Foleo and watching Palm’s video conference on it, here are a few more of my thoughts.

- The Foleo can be used as a standalone device (i.e. without a smartphone). It has built-in WiFi, a USB port, a VGA port, an audio-out jack, and slots for SD and compact flash cards. (There is no hard drive.) I think Palm is purposely under-selling the Foleo’s potential as a low-end laptop, but in fact, that seems to be what it is.

- The price is right. I was expecting more of a UMPC-type device, and at $1,500-2,000, these devices are way too expensive for what they are. However, at $500, the Foleo seems affordable. And you can bet the price will drop over time.

- A drawback of the Foleo is that it is one more device to carry around. How this works for you will probably depend on your personal preferences and how you use different devices now. Personally, for “real work,” a big screen is important to me, as is access to desktop applications. Currently, I use my phone as a wireless modem for my laptop. I have a very small notebook that I love. (For entertainment like music, reading, etc., I prefer mobile devices.) My laptop is 2.8 pounds and has a DVD player, a 40 GB hard drive, and a 1.6 GHz processor. It’s a “real computer” that can boot Windows or Linux, and it’s not a lot bigger than the Foleo. I do like the form factor of the Foleo, though I wish it had a tablet-style flip screen. I think for people who have been able to wean themselves from a laptop and are able to use their smartphone as their mobile computer, the Foleo is a great product. For people like me who still find a laptop indispensable, it’s probably not as relevant. (Maybe I’ll evolve though….:)

- I really like that Palm says they’ll support a variety of devices, including the iPhone. The whole idea of using Linux (although Palm has their own version, which could be a concern) should be to open the device up to developers. As they’ve done in the past, Palm is opening their device and encouraging lots of development. Apple has chosen not to make their devices accessible, and I think that’s a mistake.

- There is apparently no support for old Palm OS apps. (In fact, Palm is reaching out to developers to develop PIM apps.) While this is a little unfortunate, it probably makes sense.

- Is this device relevant to education? It’s hard to say. I’d guess not too much in its first release, but very possibly down the road. If the price comes down to under $300, the processor gets more robust, and some solid educational applications are developed — all of which seems likely — this could be a decent educational laptop. With all the new Web 2.0 apps (and the addition of offline syncing), this could be very powerful. In fact, it could be a step closer to the super-user-friendly, book-type form factor computing device we’ve dreamed of for schools. Of course, we’ll watch what happens with OLPC and the Classmate as well.

All in all, I think this is a good move for Palm.