Educational electronics concern Kano has announced a partnership with Microsoft to create an education-focused Intel Atom-powered convertible it has imaginatively dubbed the Kano PC.
Kano got its start in 2013 with a crowdfunded kit billed as a means of teaching kids how to build and program their very own computer. While the original project came in for criticism for being less building your own computer and more putting a Raspberry Pi inside a custom case, the software and documentation provided to go with it was of a high enough quality to support a range of follow-up kits in the years since. The company's latest effort, though, ditches its customised Linux operating system in favour of a copy of Windows 10 - thanks to a partnership with Microsoft.
The Kano PC is a significantly more traditional design to the company's Pi-powered predecessors, taking the form of a convertible tablet-cum-laptop powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 quad-core processor running at 1.44GHz, 4GB of DDR3L memory, and 64GB of eMMC storage upgradeable via microSD. As well as the 11.6" touch-screen display, the tablet includes an HDMI output, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, dual-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2 with Bluetooth Low Energy.
Kano's primary contribution, as usual, comes largely in the software which runs on the device: On top of the Windows 10 S Mode operating system - which locks the tablet down to running only approved applications, but which can be easily unlocked to a full Windows 10 Home installation - the tablet comes with an app dubbed How Computers Work which 'lets you create emojis with binary code, tinker with touch and sound, and play with the processor and memory, learning exactly what your computer is doing when you tap keys, talk into the mic, or touch the screen.' As well as this primary application, the tablet comes equipped with the Coffeescript-powered Make Art, the Kano App previously seen on the company's Pi-based products, Paint 3D, Microsoft Teams, Kano Projects, and Minecraft: Education Edition.
'We should all have a guide, the opportunity to make a computer, to customise it, and take control of the technology that makes up our society,' claims Kano co-founder Alex Klein. 'We are thrilled to share this vision with Microsoft and co-create a learning, making, and playing experience with the power of Windows and the creativity of Kano.'
'We're very excited to partner with Kano for the launch of the Kano PC,' adds Microsoft's vice president for education Anthony Salcito. 'We align with Kano's goal of making classroom experiences more inclusive for teachers and students, empowering them to build the future, not just imagine it.'
The design of the tablet is tweaked for its educational value: The rear features an exposed circuit board, while a bundled hand-held magnifying glass can be used to inspect components while following along with the bundled cartoon-style 'story book' documentation. There's even a nod to the company's build-it-yourself ethos: The battery and speaker are provided as discrete components to be connected by the user before aclear plastic cover is snapped on to the back.
The Kano PC is to launch on October 21st, with pre-orders open now at £299.99 (inc. VAT.) More information is available on the official website.
Microsoft has issued a statement to clarify that while the Kano PC will include Minecraft: Education Edition pre-loaded, it will not actually be playable unless 'activated with the purchase of the applicable Microsoft 365 licences or standalone Minecraft: Education Edition licence,' in contrast to Kano's original press announcement.
October 15 2020 | 14:00