Intel revives OLPC rivalry with new Android tablet design

Intel's 10-inch and 7-inch Education Tablet designsare now available to customers

Intel's 10-inch and 7-inch Android tablet designs are now available to manufacturers, and the resulting products could rekindle a long rivalry in the education market with One Laptop Per Child, whose first Android tablet became available in July.

Intel's 10-inch Education Tablet
Intel's 10-inch Education Tablet

The chip maker's 10-inch Education Tablet runs Android 4.0, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, while the 7-inch tablet runs Android 4.1, code-named Jellybean. Information about the tablet designs was posted on Intel's website earlier this month, and was first reported by the IDG News Service.

The tablets will have low-power Atom processors. The Atom Z2460 in the 10-inch tablet is used in smartphones introduced last year by Lenovo, Xolo and Motorola. The 7-inch tablet has the Atom Z2420 chip code-named Lexington, which is used in sub-US$100 smartphones and also Asustek's $149 Fonepad tablet.

Intel did not provide estimated prices for the tablets, and manufacturers will determine pricing and distribution, said Lisa Malloy, an Intel spokeswoman, in an email.

The tablet reference designs have some room for customization on the user interface side, but less so on the hardware, Malloy said.

Intel does not make tablets, but provides reference designs to device makers. Intel last year released a tablet design called the Studybook, which had a 7-inch screen and an Atom chip code-named Oak Trail. But the company has scrapped the old name, and adopted the brand Education Tablet for the new designs.

Intel's new designs come less than a month after One Laptop Per Child's $149.99 XO Tablet became available in Walmart. Intel and OLPC in the past have competed on selling netbooks and laptop designs to governments and school systems in developing countries. Intel was earlier a part of non-profit OLPC, but backed out to promote its own products.

The Intel tablets give students mobility and educational value, said Gail Dundas, an Intel spokeswoman, in an email last week.

"It includes a tablet-specific Intel Education Software Suite which provides a collaborative, secure, enhanced and easy to use experience," Dundas said.

The Education Tablets have textbooks and education software, a 0.3-megapixel front camera, 2-megapixel rear camera, stylus, 1GB of low-power DDR2 RAM, Wi-Fi, a micro-USB slot, and McAfee security software.

The tablets could make their way to consumers. Devices makers in the past have used Intel's education hardware designs to make netbooks and convertible laptops.

The 10-inch Education Tablet provides around 6.5 hours of battery life, weighs 689 grams and has a 1280 x 800-pixel screen. There is also a 16GB flash drive.

Intel estimates roughly 7.8 hours of battery life for the 7-inch Education Tablet, which weighs 355 grams and has a 1024 x 600-pixel screen. The device has 8GB of storage.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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