CTL 2Go E10 Classmate PC for Kids Hands-On: Durable, But Teddy Bears Are Cute

I wouldn't be caught carrying CTL's 2Go E10 Classmate PC around. And I bet neither would Kylie. Meant for kids and classrooms, the new 10-inch netbook may be durable, but it looks like an outdated netbook for kiddies.

The unit CTL (Intel designs the Classmate PC, and companies like CTL bring it to market) sent me is lab coat white with a silver, grayish handle and I've got to say it is pretty ugly even for kids. That little bear is way cuter and so is Dell's Latitude 2100 education netbook (which comes in school bus yellow and ball field green) and the ASUS Disney Netpal Eee PC. Thankfully the pictures of the Classmate PC in blue and grey look a lot better, but if I were a kid given this egg white netbook I'd cover it in magic marker and Hello Kitty stickers. I do actually really like the detachable lunchbox-like handle, however.

What the Classmate lacks in style it makes up for in durability. The 10-inch netbook (unlike its convertible tablet sibling) can take a beating. Its hard drive is shock mounted and the chassis can withstand a 70 cm drop. And I wasn't scared to drool on it since its keyboard is spill resistant.

The netbook has one of the most cramped keyboards I've seen on a 10-inch netbook (though the Shift key is now full size), but I'm willing to be forgiving for that since it is meant for the small handed. Win on the trackpad though; it has been expanded and with its dedicated scroll bar is a pleasure to navigate the desktop with.

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The $449 netbook has the usual specs - a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, Windows XP and 160GB hard drive. That is plenty fine for writing a homework assignment in Microsoft Works and hitting up kid friendly websites. However, the best part of the whole netbook is the Blue Dolphin skin over Windows XP that Intel has created.The UI is pretty neat and has large animated shortcuts to frequently used programs (it is pretty easy to customize too). Its six-cell battery which doesn't protrude from the system should blast out about 5 hours of runtime and last well into recess (LAPTOP Mag has a full review and says they got 5.5 hours which isn't too shabby).

The $449 price seems like overkill considering most netbooks on the market, which are hands down more attractive, are at least $50 less. However, for a kid its got durability, easy to use software and is 100 percent cootie free. [CTL]