The schoolbags of the future

14 Sep 2010

What will tomorrow’s children be carrying to school in the connected world? We look at some of the innovations and great technology that are making the schoolbag a little lighter and a lot more fun.


1. Apple iPad

Pricing: From €499 for Wi-Fi only 16GB model

The Apple iPad is one of the most talked about gadgets of 2010 and it is easy to see why. It takes mobile applications to the next level and shows you why a bigger touchscreen can make all the difference.

You cannot overestimate the power of a shiny 9.7-inch multitouch screen. It changes the game because everything that looks nice on the iPhone looks superb on the iPad, plus there’s the added functionality this affords.

There are so many great educational and fun apps to choose from in the App Store that your children will never get bored. The only downside to the iPad is that it is pretty expensive and is not a laptop replacement. It is, however, a good investment when you consider how lightweight it is and how many things can be done on this device, from reading e-books to watching movies, playing games, surfing the web and exploring the world through a virtual atlas or globe.

2. Fizzbook Spin

Pricing: From approx RRP €430 (Ex Vat)

The Fizzbook Spin is an ultra-mobile PC based on Intel’s Classmate series that focuses on rugged design and affordability in educational technology but the twist is that it literally has twist built into its body: it can be used as a regular laptop or there is the option to twist the keyboard around under the screen which then turns into a touchscreen tablet.

All Intel-powered Classmate PCs have the Smart Classroom Suite of interactive learning software with easy-to-use education-specific software and the Smart Exchange website that connects teachers from all over the world.

3. Joojoo

Pricing: €359

The Joojoo tablet is as good-looking as the iPad but is a completely different beast. While it has a large, bright touchscreen interface it does not use apps in the traditional sense but rather uses the web as a portal for everything so it is very much a web device rather than a computing one for offline use.

This 12.1-inch tablet device has high definition video playback and boasts multitasking so you can run several web services or apps at once. It also has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and a 4GB solid state drive.


1. Amazon Kindle

Pricing: Approx €110 for Wi-Fi only, €150 Wi-Fi and 3G

When people think of the future of books this is one (literally) black and white view of where the e-book or electronic format book is headed. Instead of an e-book reader being an application on a device Amazon has dedicated an entire gadget to the purpose.

With the price of the Kindle and other similar devices dropping in the last year they are worth the investment because the display is designed specially to simulate ink in order to prevent eye strain and the battery lasts for ages.

With the Kindle you can purchase and download books “over the air” for instant gratification. The scholar can make annotations, highlight text and add bookmarks. This is indeed a good choice for those looking for a way to mix technology and the good old-fashioned traits of concentration and simplicity.

2. Sony Reader

Pricing: RRP €199.90

Like the Amazon Kindle the Sony Reader is another dedicated e-book reader with the same lasting battery life, electronic ink and eyeball pleasing display.

You can fit thousands of books on one of these and while it is true that you cannnot download books directly to thise device there is a PC/Mac application for this and it is useful for sorting out your book collection.

Books are available for purchase from Waterstones online and there are thousands of free books from Project Gutenberg plus you can also load PDF files onto this for reading on the go.

1. Dell Latitude 2110

Pricing: From €537 (ex VAT + delivery)

This netbook combines sturdiness and compact mobility, which, lets face it, are two essential traits in any piece of technology that hopes to weather then exuberant enthusiasm of younger children.

The Latitude 2110 has a 10.1-inch screen and built-in webcam as is now standard but it also has touchscreen ability and the option to chooose between Windows XP Home, 7 Starter, Vista Home Basic and Ubuntu Linux9.10 as an operating system so your school’s choice will fit with your kid’s.

The best feature from a teacher’s point of view is the web activity indicator on the outside of the casing. A quick glance down the classroom will tell you what kids are not paying attention to the lesson plan and are attempting to surf the web secretly.

2. Compaq Mini 110c

Pricing: €329 from Click

Like many other netbooks on the market the Mini 110c has the standard 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, runs Windows and has built-in Wi-Fi and a webcam.

So far so good but what makes it a worthwhile purchase is the pricing. HP is a good quality reliable brand so the price tag of €329 is very affordable, especially when you see how well designed and attractive this netbook is.

This 10.1-inch screened netbook would be an ideal and inexpensive choice for your teenager and the 92pc sized keyboard makes typing that bit easier than some other netbooks.


1. Dell Vostro 3500

Pricing: from €499 excl. VAT + delivery

This entry level notebook boasts a 15.6-inch screen but at €499 keeps within budget. The student essentials of built in Wi-Fi, 3G and integrated webcam plus microphone are all here and switchable nVidia graphics mean that students can switch from dedicated graphics to integrated graphics to save battery life on the go.

Optional specs include a backlit keyboard and a 9-cell battery for extra-long life. The variety of colours will appeal to your children and with its good screen size and 250GB-320GB storage it could be a good option for the family laptop.

2. Toshiba C650D-10K

Pricing: €519

Running on Windows 7 Home Premium this is svelte and slim line, and with a large 15.6-inch screen it is well-priced and a good choice for your child’s first laptop.

Hard drive storage comes in at 250GB and with 2GB of RAM it should run fairly smoothly. In addition there is a DVD SuperMulti Drive. Often we forget that although netbooks are compact and very affordable they do not come with DVD drives. If your children have a large movie collection then a DVD drive is essential.