Designed with children in mind, the 2go PC (a.k.a. the Intel Classmate 2) by CTL Corp. features a durable chassis and a beautiful 9-inch display, and it's available with Windows XP Home (which we're reviewing here) or a Linux operating system. You wouldn't want to rely on this $400 mini-notebook to do any heavy lifting, but it'll fulfill your basic educational needs, and its funky design has "kid" written all over it.
Similar Design to the Classmate
Like the original Classmate, the 2go PC is ensconced in a rubberized case complete with a built-in carrying handle and a vinyl cover held on by Velcro. The two-toned dark- and light-gray chassis weighs in at 3 pounds and measures 8.7 x 7.3 x 1.5 inches. While it may be a tad heavier and thicker than the Eee PC and CloudBook models, it is certainly more durable--a must for any notebook that will likely be subjected to varying degrees of abuse.
An LED indicator panel is positioned between the two lid hinges at the top of the machine, and a handful of ports are located on the sides, including two USB ports, an Ethernet jack, headphone and mic jacks, and a 2-in-1 card reader. Missing is a video-out port, which means you're out of luck if you want to hook up to an external display. Two stereo speakers built into the lower front bezel lack volume but deliver decent sound quality for their size.
This model sports a brilliant 9-inch display that produces bold colors, wide viewing angles, and an overall bright picture. Despite the somewhat larger display, we still had the same problem that we encountered with the 7-inch mini-notebooks we've reviewed with windows extending beyond the screen. A 0.3-megapixel camera located on the display's upper bezel worked flawlessly, although the image quality was grainy.
The keyboard, black with orange function buttons, is too small for adult rapid touch typists but just the right size for kids, and it's spill-resistant too. The scrolling touchpad and mouse buttons are rubberized and water-resistant as well. Cursor control was fairly responsive, but we experienced occasional jumps and stutters, especially when there were several programs running at once.
2go PC Performance
Our 2go PC came with Windows XP Home Edition preinstalled. Its Intel Celeron M processor and 512MB of memory combined to produce a relatively weak PCMark05 score of 780 (only two ultraportables have scored lower, and a UMPC scored higher). We also noticed sluggish performance while running multiple applications, including slow program loads and momentary screen freezes. Adding more memory (it can take up to 1GB) would certainly help speed things up. Still, the 2go can handle your basic Web browsing, e-mail, and light office tasks, as long as you don't try to run too many programs at one time. Our preproduction model came with a slow (3,600-rpm) 30GB hard drive, but CTL informed us that the final version will include a faster (4,200-rpm) 40GB drive, which should also help boost performance.
The battery lasted a respectable 3 hours and 55 minutes with the power scheme set for maximum performance, which means you should experience upwards of 5 hours with the power scheme set for maximum battery life. The 2go PC managed wireless throughput speeds of 13.8 Mbps (15 feet) and 14.0 Mbps (50 feet), which is about average for an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi adapter.
The 2go PC may not be a stellar performer, but considering its intended audience and price, it doesn't have to be. Its rugged design, long battery life, and lightweight chassis all add to this mini-notebook's appeal. However, the 2go's small keyboard and lack of video input make it a better choice for kids and teens than for road warriors.