New Kano PC Kit Lets Kids Build Their Own Windows 10 Laptop
Kano PC, a company apparently dedicated to building low-cost computing blocks to introduce kids to both hardware and coding, has teamed up with Microsoft to offer a buildable Windows 10 laptop that kids can assemble themselves.
Historically, building a PC was a difficult endeavor. Back when I was a boy, finding a village smith who had the appropriate PCB molds to cast a motherboard was taxing. Once you’d extracted enough copper wire from the Ogre Pit, you had to chip a good clock crystal from the depths of Performance Mountain, and sacrifice a goat to the Three Gods of Peripheral Support: IRQ, DMA, and I/O Range.
If your prayers (and dubious driver code) were accepted, a new peripheral would be added to your tenuous stack of wizardry and circuits. Else, execute function FranticRepair, kicking off an all-night effort to restore the family computer to whatever state it existed in before your parents went to sleep the night before.
*reads incoming Slack message*
Alright, fine Jamie, it wasn’t actually quite that bad. But building laptops has always been genuinely difficult. This kind of simplified construction kit isn’t going to give you a top-end system, but as a way to introduce kids to the idea of building their own system to carry around the house and inevitably break, it’s a great idea.
Tech specs on the Kano PC include:
- Intel Atom x5-Z8350 Quad core 1.44 GHz
- 4GB DDR3L RAM (Unknown clock)
- 64GB of eMMC, upgradeable via microSD slot
- 1x USB 3.0 port
- 1x USB 2.0 port
- Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band
- Bluetooth 4.2 support
- 11.6″ screen (resolution unknown)
- 1x HDMI port.
- 1x 3.5mm headphone jack.
The device will run Windows 10 S — the locked-down variant that shouldn’t be a problem with a device like this — and ships with some Kano-specific included apps, like How Computers Work, Make Art, Kano App, Paint 3D, Kano Projects and, a touch incongruously, Microsoft Teams. (Seriously, it’s a listed software feature).
As kits go, though, the idea of building a small laptop as a kid system is an appealing one. The $299 Kano PC won’t be available until October, but if it lives up to the appeal, it might be a neat holiday present for a kid interested enough in computers to want to start learning how to build them.
It isn’t clear if this version of Windows 10 S can be turned back into a real version of the OS like other machines that run 10 S can. If it can, then this should be an excellent little computer for early hands. Linux and RBP-powered variants are also available (and Kano builds some different kits that are intended for these spaces), so people have options depending on which OS you prefer. Of course, there’d be nothing stopping someone from trying to load Linux into this thing (and I’m sure somebody will try), but the value-added software Kano includes is undoubtedly supposed to be a reason to stick with the Microsoft loadout.
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