Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Perfect Student Computer

The quest for the perfect student use mobile computer continues.  I'm doing some research for our provincial organization, the Computer Using Educators of British Columbia.  Our goal is to find and then recommend the ideal student computer that performs well in the classroom and it priced at a level that parents (PAC's) or schools can make them a sustainable purchase.

Here is my 'wish list'.
  • A modern operating system that is familiar to students and teachers as well as being supportable in schools.  This has me leaning towards Windows XP or Mac OS X.
  • Good battery life.  An ideal is 5+ hours that matches the school day.
  • Strong performance.  The new Intel processor call the Atom with 1Gb+ of memory is a great combination.
  • Ample storage.  While not a show-stopper as the definition of a netbook is that much of the work will be stored online, a large hard drive allows the computer to become a portable media device for music, video and documents.
  • Webcam.  Capturing video, live Skype calls and podcasting are great ways to enhance student expression.
  • Weight.  I have two children in primary grades.  I don't see them carrying a 5lb computer.  The current 2-3 lb range of the mini series seems suitable.
Here is the table of research

component

Dell

ASUS

Acer

Apple

HP

model

mini 9

900HA

Aspire One APA150

Macbook 2.1Gh

mini 1000

Processor

Atom 1.6

Atom 1.6

Atom 1.6

Core 2 2.1Ghz

 

OS

Windows XP

Windows XP

Windows XP

OS X

 

Memory

1Gb

1Gb

1Gb

1 Gb

 

Drive

8 Gb

160Gb

160 Gb

120 Gb

 

webcam

.3 Megapixel

.3 Megapixel

yes

iSight

 

weight

2.28 lb

2.5 lb

2 lb

4.5 lb

 

battery life

4 hours

5.3 hours

5.5 hr

5 hr

 

 

site

http://dell.ca

http://ncix.com/

http://ncix.com/

http://apple.ca

http://hp.ca

price

$489.

$379

$479.99

$1149.

NA in Canada

11/16/2008

11/16/2008

11/18/2008

11/18/2008

11/18/2008



Summary
  • I couldn't find a local distributor for the MSI wind machine although I've seen some good reviews on the machine.
  • Tier 1 manufactures (HP, Dell and Apple) are preferred as they are more accepted by district IT departments.  In this case the HP isn't available yet in Canada, Apple's price and large size excludes it from this list and the Dell is about $100 more than comparable models and has less storage.
  • Seems like the ASUS eeePC has a great value.  It is light, good battery life and lots of memory and storage.  I have used a friends eeePC and found the keyboard cramped and a difficult placement of the right shift key.  Since this device is for children and now my hands this could be a minor irritant for the times when I'm supporting students.
Feedback
It would be great to hear from others who have researched or used these products.  

Research sites consulted:  PC Magazine review
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