Hands-On with CTL's 2go PC (a.k.a. Classmate 2)

When rumors started swilling a few weeks back about an Intel Netbook or the CTL 2go PC we were confident at the time that it was the second iteration of the Classmate PC. And we were right: Today Intel announced its second generation Classmate 2.

In addition, CTL has announced that they will be one of the first manufacturers to bring the Classmate 2 to market in the U.S as the 2go PC. According to CTL, the system will be sold at Amazon.com for $400.

We got an exclusive hands-on with the CTL 2go PC and even had a few days to review it.

Before sending the unit off for review I spent a few hours with the machine. I have spent lots of time with the first Classmate and this iteration is a serious improvement.

Improved Design, Sleeker Style
One can immediately notice the difference from the the machine's exterior. The 2go PC has a silver and grayish vinyl cover. We are happy to see that it maintains its lunch-box handle, which makes it easier for kids to drag around. Intel says the system is still as rugged as the first. We didn't attempt any drop tests but it should be able to withstand a 6-foot fall.

When I opened the system, I was pleasantly greeted by a 9-inch screen. The screen was very bright and I was easily able to adjust the brightness using keyboard shortcuts. Watching clips on YouTube came through clearly. The system now also has a 0.3-megapixel camera.

One Cramped Keyboard
As with the first Classmate, the 2go PC's keyboard is cramped. Though a few shortcut keys have been added, this keyboard is still meant for little fingers. If the keyboard on the Eee PC were a pair of large pants, the 2go's would be an extra-small. The trackpad on the system has also lost its original circular form. It was smooth and responsive to our touch.

Smooth Surfing Over Wi-Fi

We had no problem getting around in Windows XP. The 2go PC we were testing had its own educational software stack. However, once it was connected to the wireless network in our offices, we spent most of the time surfing in the Internet Explorer 7 browser. I had no problem logging into Meebo for instant messaging and Gmail for checking my Inbox. Videos on YouTube played smoothly as well.

Check out our full review and the hands-on video with the CTL 2go PC (aka the Classmate 2):