Just the other day I was talking to someone about how I think laptops will eventually become as popular as mobile phones, and will really take off. One application that I mentioned was children using laptops at school in place of paper and pens. The person I was talking to agreed, but said that they would have to be "pretty tough laptops."
Funnily enough, in the UK, RM has released a rugged classroom laptop
dubbed "RM Mobile One". RM is an education-oriented PC maker, so they know this market well. The Mobile One starts at £549, and is available now, sporting up to 1GB of 200MHz or 266MHz DDR SDRAM, 40, 60 or 80GB hard drive, and a choice of CD-ROM or DVD-ROM/CD-RW. The design of the laptop is based around children being not too careful with it.
The power port is designed to allow the connector to be pulled smoothly without damaging the connector or the computer should some errant pupil yank it out, RM said.
And there's an optional waterproof cover for the keyboard, which can be colour-coded to help younger pupils. A Kensington lock is provided for physical security, and the removable optical drive can be locked down too, RM said.