Monday, April 20, 2009
"Kitchen Computers" in Our Classrooms
Most of us in the severe and profound branch of special education were/are bypassed by the netbook phenomenon. (I certainly tried with an Asus eee.) Netbooks just don't met the needs of our students. No CD/DVD drive means no way to easily install specialized software like Boardmaker, Classroom Suite or Clicker5, besides the limited memory means it couldn't handle the software anyways. The tiny screen don't work well for low vision students and after you attach your switches and interfaces all of the extra stuff takes up more space than the actual netbook. Also you needed some serious soldering skills to attach a touch screen.
The next hot new thing in computing looks to be "kitchen computers". These are all-in-one computers that are essentially just large touchscreen monitors with everything inside, often times including wifi, CD/DVD, integrated webcam, microphone and speakers and about 2G of RAM and 160 G or so of hard drive. (Those specs are for the MSI wind.)
The MSI wind shown here can be pre-ordered for $530. The Asus Eee Top costs $600, while Dell's all-in-one machine, (not in the US yet) has been priced at $800 for a touchscreen model.
At those prices, with just the right amount of power and no need for an external touch screen I can see these turning up in many severe special needs classrooms. The nice thing will be when they are broken it won't cost and arm and a leg to replace it.
Another thing to watch might be the new Crunch Pads.