Intel Classmate tablet netbook first impressions

2golead By year’s end, we should see the first units of Intel’s second-generation Classmate PC hitting the shelves. The touchscreen netbook tablet (netblet?) should start at around $499 with Ubuntu Linux installed.

Laptop got its hands on an early-production demo unit with a 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 60GB hard drive, and Windows XP and put it through some initial testing.

Here’s what Laptop found, in a nutshell:

  • Small, cramped keyboard. Might not be a huge issue since this thing is supposedly marketed towards younger students with small-ish fingers.
  • Very durable: spill-resistant keyboard, shock-mounted hard drive, rubber bumper on the bottom edge of the computer, built-in handle.
  • Resistive touchscreen works well. It’s an 8.9-inch screen at 1024×600 resolution.
  • Responsive accelerometer adjusts quickly when the screen is flipped around.

Even though it just played with a pre-production unit, Laptop proclaimed that the “2go PC” (as it’ll be called) “looks to be the most promising netbook with tablet capabilities on the market,” although Laptop warned that ASUS has some touchscreen Eee PCs waiting in the wings as well, which might give the 2go some competition.