While we haven't seen anywhere near the kind of buzz in geek circles for Intel's Classmate, it played a prominent, crushing role in the WSJ's slaughterfest OLPC article a couple weeks ago, since it's been picked up by Libya, Nigeria and Pakistan over the XO Laptop, in large part because it runs Windows and Office and the XO Laptops don't. Yet. Wired puts their distinctly non-child-sized mitts on it and walks away pretty impressed.
It's appropriately rugged, with a kiddy-but-pukey periwinkle rubber case sleeve, and the keyboard/touchpad are solid. Despite not being a powerhouse machine, apps like Office load with reasonable speed and the battery life's nearly biblical (3h40m). But the Windows and Office install gobbles up space, leaving just 1/2 a gig for storage, and it weirdly runs kinda hot. Still, perhaps more importantly, it's cheaper than the other hype-grabbing ultra-cheapie, Asus's Eee and not too far off of OLPC's mark at $300.
Throw in the Microsoft goods—which, love or hate, is what some places are looking for to be on a level playing field—and you've got an OLPC-killer, especially if they could chip the price down a bit further. [Gadget Lab]