The hot product genre in personal computers this year is arguably the ultra-portable notebook. These small form factor computers are trying to satisfy consumers’ need for faster yet smaller hardware. The 2GoPC from Computer Technology Link (CTL) falls into this niche and takes it a step further by providing ruggedized versions of its ultra-portable.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic Download. We also featured the 2GoPC in a TechRepublic First Look Photo Gallery.

Our Geek Gift Guide review unit is the Classmate PC with the Intel Celeron Processor. It is running Windows XP, which we updated to SP3, and includes:

  • 9” LCD, 800 x 480 Color LCD
  • 512MB RAM standard
  • 40GB 1.8″ 4200RPM Hard Drive
  • 8.7”(W) x 7.3”(H) x 1.5”(D) and weighs 2.8Lbs
  • 2 USB ports
  • SD memory card reader
  • Ethernet port
  • Wi-Fi capability

Family affair

The Classmate PCs have an additional discreet niche – the classroom. The 2GoPC is designed to be used by children in a classroom setting. It has a handle for easy carrying around and it is built to take the punishment a child can dish out on their way to and from school. Under those criteria, the 2GoPC generally meets the needs of its target market.

In an effort to get a child’s perspective, John Sheesley’s daughter tested the 2GoPC for us. Her assessment was: “The 2GoPC is great for school but not to good for the Internet. It doesn’t have enough screen for certain things. But otherwise I like it I really like it.”

When I showed it to my niece, Brenna, her first response was: “Cool, does it come in different colors?”

My nephew, Travis, wanted to know what games it plays. When I told him it doesn’t really play the games he likes, he lost all interest.

Bill Detwiler’s daughter was very disappointed that the odd screen resolution of 800 X 480 did not properly display Webkinz. She lost interest in a matter of minutes.

This small sample revealed two things:

  • Kids really want their own computer, which is a sign of the electronic age we live in
  • The 2GoPC is not bad, but it does not capture the imagination of today’s children

If your child is into computers, their sophistication regarding the personal computer is not to be underestimated.

What I like

There are a number of things I like about the 2GoPC from CTL:

  • It is small and light
  • It is rugged
  • It has a good sized 40GB hard drive
  • It runs Windows or Linux
  • It has a built-in handle
  • It has built-in WiFi and a wired-Ethernet port
  • It has an adequate number of USB ports
  • It has separate function keys
  • It has a bright screen

What I don’t like

However, there are certain limitations in the design that I believe most TechRepublic members will consider deal breakers. I know they are deal breakers for me:

  • The odd resolution of the screen at 800 X 480 makes Web sites difficult to read no matter how you adjust it
  • The keyboard is too small
  • It takes two hands to use the cursor keys
  • The shift key on the right is out of position and too small
  • Not enough battery life for such a small PC
  • Only 512MB RAM standard on this model
  • A bit pricey at just under $500

Bottom line

The 2GoPC from CTL is not a bad little ultra-portable for just under $500, but there are better PCs, portable and desktop alike, available for the same amount of money. And while the rugged manufacturing of the Classmate PC is a great point in its favor, it is not enough to counter the sheer frustration of the odd screen resolution.

No matter the size of the PC, it must have a standard screen resolution. Web sites count on it and make no allowances for non-standard screen resolutions. This means, while using the 2GoPC, you are constantly trying to find the best resolution for rendering a particular Web page. There must be a better experience than this.

Geek Gift Score (out of a possible 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: ***
  • Value: ***
  • Overall: ***