The Intel Studybook is a 7″ tablet that is targeted to young students (4-8 years old) with the goal of making their study more interactive, and more efficient. The tablet format is a departure from the previous clamshell Netbook approach taken by Intel. After studying student behavior with many devices, the conclusion was that touch screens are widely accepted, and made things easier, especially for very young children.
The Studybook is therefore built as a small and slightly rugged tablet designed to resist small spills and drops (70cm). It’s body is made of molded plastic which forms a single bloc with rounded corners (Nokia uses a similar technique with their Lumia 800 and 900 phones). The electronics and the display are mounted on a shock-absorbing platform that makes the tablet even more durable. The ports are covered to avoid dust and liquids, and among them, there is a full-size USB port, which is very handy to connect an array of sensors.
The Studybook runs under Windows 7 or Android, and users will have to choose one or the other as this is not a dual-boot system. Windows 7 is there for legacy compatibility reasons, but schools which don’t have existing solutions may opt for Android. The Studybook is powered by an Atom Z650 processor working with 1GB of memory. There are multiple SSD storage options going from 4GB to 32GB. Intel has added two low-resolution webcams (front+back) and there’s a motion sensor integrated in the device, which weighs 525g. The battery life is rated for 5.5 hours, according to Intel.
To function in a school, the Studybook works within Intel’s Learning Series Software Suite, which includes administrative tools for the teachers who can see what students are doing, and even authorize only certain apps to run during the session (after all, gaming is tempting…). I’m told that the system is smart enough to hand over the controls to another professor if needed.
The Studybook can run many applications, but one caught my attention: LabCam is an app that uses the rear webcam with a Microscope attachment that makes it possible to view individual hair on an insect leg. It can also be used to study simple rock composition. I think that this level of interactivity helps students learn, as it is more “interesting” than reading a book or looking at a static photo. The apps also has interactive exercises that can involve replying to simple multiple-choice questions, or writing more complex notes. Finally, the Studybook can simply as a eBook.
The tablet has been designed for low-cost, and we’ve learned that pricing should be around $199 to $299 depending on the configuration. I tend to think that 7″ is a bit small, but it’s probably OK if the applications are written specifically for that format. I wish that there was something like this when I was at school, but when it comes to technology, the new generation always has it good, right?