Low-cost Classmate comes to Europe

The low-cost laptop market is heating up in Europe and the US, with Intel preparing to launch the sub-£175 ($350) Classmate 2 in the developed world.

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The low-cost laptop market is heating up in Europe and the US, with Intel preparing to launch the sub-£175 ($350) Classmate 2 in the developed world.

The Intel machine, a competitor to Asus' Eee PC, was originally only targeted at children in developing nations. The second-generation version will be priced between $250 (£125) and $350 (£175).

Although no details of the specification for the Classmate 2 have been released, Intel is expected to use its upcoming Atom processor. Current Classmates feature a low-power version of Intel's Celeron M processor and a sseven-inch screen.

Intel sees the Classmate PC as just one of a range of low-cost 'netbooks' it's developing. The second version will be available to PC vendors in a range of configurations, but will retain the same basic design when sold by different vendors, Tom Rampone, an Intel vice president and general manager of the company's Channel Platforms Group said.

In addition to versions for consumers, running either Linux or Windows, the laptop will be available in configurations complete with educational software aimed at schools in developed countries, he said.

"During the last quarter, we have seen tremendous interest in the Classmate PC from customers outside education," said Rampone.

The move to expand the availability of Classmate PC to PC vendors in developed markets follows a push to make the product more widely available to consumers in emerging economies. For example, HCL Infosystems of India announced a laptop, called MiLeap X, earlier this year that is based on the Classmate PC design, but marketed as a low-cost computer for consumers and businessmen instead of students.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group told Reuters he expected the second generation Classmate to be more attractive to consumers put off by an unfamiliar operating system. "Low-cost products are going to move well, but the key is for them to be quality." he said.

Intel also claims work has already begun on developing a third-generation model.

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