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A Rugged Tablet Could Change It All

There have been efforts to produce a low-cost tablet for education. When successful, this could have an effect on the pricing and distribution of tablets in the enterprise space.

Intel has introduced its third entry in the educational market, the "Studybook". This site also has videos covering the use and applications for education that may stimulate entrepreneurs to develop their business applications.

An interesting capability of the Studybook is that it can be dropped from over two feet and still operate. The tablet is composed of a single piece of plastic. This sturdiness is one of the innovations of the design. This rugged design is based on placing a rubber gasket around the display to act as a shock absorber. This design also makes the tablet water resistant. The rugged tablet design can then stimulate the use of tablets in areas where some of today's tablets would be prone to breakage such in construction, mining, athletic events and other outdoor activities. Classes can be effectively delivered in conditions where a non-ruggedized tablet would be prone to damage. I expect there will be more ruggedly designed tablets available at a lower price that compete with the ruggedized models now on the market.

A second part of the Intel announcement is that the tablet can be assembled with local labor. This can reduce the final cost and create employment at a local level. This could affect the penetration of the Studybook into third world markets. Previous designs are in use by millions of students in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. The price will be set by the local market. Intel expects the Studybook to sell for $200 to $300USD. One possibility is for applications to be provided free if the users allow some advertising to be sent to the tablets.

The initial model will work with a version of Windows 7. Later, a model will be introduced with Google’s Android Honeycomb operating system. Both of these operating systems will encourage new application development.

The Studybook features:

* An Intel Atom processor
* A multi-touch capacitive screen that is 7 inches with 1024x600 resolution
* An educational software suite including classroom management
* Front and back cameras with integrated audio, a single speaker, and digital microphone
* Rubber port covers for water and dust resistance
* Up to 5.5 of hours battery life
* Access management capabilities to set and manage student access in school and at home

There are theft deterrent servers and clients available for centralized control of the tablets. This is both a hardware and software solution that has integrated backup capabilities that will be of interest to the enterprise. Wireless classroom management software is also available.

The Scientific American article "Intel Seeks to Bridge the Digital Divide with a Rugged Tablet PC" is another source of information.