Intel puts Classmate up against iPad

Intel showed off a new Classmate design here at Cebit in Hanover today, emphasising improved battery life and better eBook reading software in a convertible tablet, featuring a bigger, 10.1-inch touch screen.

Sensibly, since the PC is aimed at school kids, Intel claims a more robust design for the thin box, reckoning it can be dropped from desk height and survive. We haven't tested the claim yet.

Battery life improvements are down to the new Pineview chip, according to Intel. The firm reckons the Classmate will now whirr away for a respectable eight and an half hours between charges. We haven't tested this either.

The bigger single-touch screen now supports handwriting recognition software and the box sports a stylus-on-a-string for scrawling directly onto the screen. Such a feature was present on Micrososft's now elderly Windows Tablet OS but remained missing from the feature list presented at the launch of Apple's iPad netbook. No doubt there'll be an app for that later.

Also spookily improved is the eBook reading software which featured in the previous nine-inch version. It now includes a broader suite of management functions.

Pricing details didn't emerge. Expect implementations of the design to undercut the iPad substantially.