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Howard Notebook Computer (2GOPCT2) Review by Kate Kessler

Howard Technology
36 Howard Drive
Ellisville MS 39437
1 (888) 912-3151

The "Intel-powered classmate PC" is a sturdy student notebook computer. Designed for students ages 5-14, but useful for anyone in the family, this laptop computer is out-of-the-box ready to grab, go, and learn. It comes loaded with Windows® 7, wireless capability, and is completely ready for all PC needs. At just under four pounds, this notebook is robust and ready to tackle your child's worst treatment. The keyboard is water resistant, and the entire outer layer of the computer is made of strong rubberized plastic to absorb the bumps that come along with children and computers.

The notebook has a 10.1-inch touch screen (called Resistive Touch) that works with fingers or the accompanying attached touch-screen stylus. I thought the stylus might scratch it, but the screen is very durable and we have not had any problems - even my eight year-old couldn't damage it! The entire screen swivels as well as rotates 180 degrees and lays flat to form a tablet. There are many software applications available for purchase and if you happen to choose the creative art software (ArtRage), this is an excellent way to utilize this capability. My children created many pieces of artwork this way and saved them to share later.

This notebook is customizable and upgradeable to your own specifications. Mine arrived with a few unusual software applications that are very useful for the student. There was Note Taker that does exactly what it says it does; it allows you to literally take notes with the attached stylus. I still cannot get used to the fact that I can press the screen as hard as I would with any other pen and it doesn't hurt the screen. This took some getting used to. It also came with Foxit Reader; an e-book reader. It came loaded with only one book, but that was a valuable thing--the ArtRage Manual. Because I was more familiar with the Amazon Kindle, I went ahead and downloaded, via the wireless connection, the free PC version to see how it would work on the Howard PC. It worked beautifully. With the rotating screen, I can use the notebook as my own portable reader, and my children can utilize this too.

WordPad, Math Input Panel (graph paper usable for math problems with the stylus), calculator, Paint, Sticky Notes (my son loves this for leaving me notes of what new things he needs to acquire), sound recorder, among many other programs, all come fully loaded on this machine. One of the more unusual aspects of this computer is the rotatable webcam located at the top of the screen. So many fun things can happen with the webcam! Your children can create and edit their own movies as well as facilitate distance learning. Your children can even enjoy face-to-face conversations with friends or family members.

Because the keyboard is smaller, larger hands (like mine) will need to be aware of their finger placement when typing. Those for whom the machine was created need not have as many concerns. It is a full keyboard with the soft touch you find on many laptop machines with a track-pad for a mouse. There are two USB ports, one video (VGA) port (this allows you to attach a normal computer monitor or projector if you wish), one Ethernet (LAN/network) port, one 3 in 1 card reader (for camera cards), three audio ports for headphone/speaker, microphone, and line out. The lithium-ion battery length is rated to last six hours on a full charge, under normal usage. The GMA Graphics offers nice visual quality. The pull-out handle is strong and offers a great grip for any size hand. There is no CDROM drive, so any software will need to be installed via the USB port or internet. If you require a CDROM, Howard Computers offers an external USB option at the time of purchase. All upgrades and customizable options can be found on the product page here:

Their website states that with every Howard product purchase, you receive the following for free: phone and web tech support for the life of your system; 100% US-based, English-speaking customer service support around the clock; and that phone hold time is less than one minute. The price is more expensive than some other notebooks out there, but the difference in quality and sturdiness simply cannot be matched. I have allowed my three youngest children to access this computer for many months, in all sorts of situations, all over the house and yard. Not once has anything happened that has even remotely damaged the computer. This is an uncompromising machine that knows its audience is not going to be gentle with it. The Howard Notebook Computer (2GOPCT2) is a worthwhile investment for the busy homeschool family.

Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Family, LLC, June, 2011