back to article Modular edutech PC crew opens fresh Kano beans with expanded kit and accessories

UK modular PC flinger Kano has cast its ambitions overseas as well as at home for its updated edutech-flavoured Kano Windows 10 PC, out today along with a pile of new buildable accessories. The Kano PC - first trailed last year - is a modular tablet-laptop hybrid, primarily aimed at the education market. This modularity allows …

  1. EvilGardenGnome

    Looking at their site, the webcam is actually the more interesting option, I think. Flexible arm, built-in light, and a privacy cover? And cheaper than most externals? For simple use-cases, that's not bad at all.

  2. eswan

    "We looked at [stats] about what are the most common parts of the computer that wear out. The battery, speaker, and keyboard were the most common."

    Speaker? I've worked on thousands of computers over the last 30 years, and I have never experienced a worn out computer speaker. My current desktop is using the same AR 'Powered Partners' that I bought in 1991.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Speakers + children = blown speakers, often.

      Though to be fair, this normally happens if the children are playing music too loudly - either the amp is too powerful for the speakers, or the amp is under-powered and outputs a clipped signal which also damages speakers.

      I guess that an educational device like this should allow children to experiment with waveforms, and so children will occasionally generate a signal that the speakers don't like.

      1. TheProf Silver badge

        Late 70

        A friend of mine did some DJing in the late 1970s and he was in possession of a rather impressive power amp. I possessed some rather inferior domestic lo-fi speakers.

        In the interests of science we sacrificed the speakers by turning up the amp power until the speaker coil burned out.

        I'd have to agree that clipping is more dangerous to speakers because they made a hell of a lot of noise before melting. As in 'I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW LOUD THESE SPEAKERS ARE!' 'WHAT DID YOU SAY?'

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Late 70

          Speakers die for other reasons too. I have recently had to scrap a pair of JBL Control-1 speakers because the cone mounting - the flexible ring part between the large end of the cone and the metal frame of the speaker - had disintgrated. Perished. Not through overuse (very careful about that), not through exposure to sunlight (I think) but just 'because'. It was only a couple of quid more to replace the whole unit with Control-1 Pro speakers than to buy a replacement woofer.

          I have fitted /dozens/ of Control-1 and Control-1 Pro over the years and they are cracking good speakers for the money. Apart from the ridiculous ball-mount they supply these days. I have never had one fail in this way previously.

          As for a modular laptop/tablet, I'm very tempted at that price. School seems to be moving towards BYOD which is an expense I'd rather not repeat too often...

          M.

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    Some parts not as nice as I first thought

    I was interested to see exactly how flexible a device like this would be. It's always nice to introduce children to hardware and software together. Sadly, I don't think this looks like the way to do it. I had one concern after reading this article, and it was that it didn't look like the memory or storage was replaceable on this machine. I get it with memory (sort of), as the processor in this machine probably can't do all that much with more. However, in my opinion, storage absolutely should be replaceable; not only can it wear out, especially with heavy use, but it is useful for people new to hardware to understand how storage works and experiment with different systems, which can be easily accomplished by swapping out disks.

    While I had these concerns, I wasn't sure from the article that they applied. Maybe these parts are replaceable and the article just didn't mention it, so I did my research. Well, I tried to do my research. It seems as if Kano doesn't publish the assembly guides for their products on their site, blog, or help center. They do indicate that a printed and illustrated version comes with the device, but I think it's also important that they publish it online for perspective purchasers or in case someone loses it. I wonder why they haven't done this; it's not as if it's valuable without the hardware.

    Since I don't have any of the official documentation, I'm only going off some articles I've seen about the launch, both here and elsewhere. Unfortunately, it isn't painting a picture I like. It seems like the hardware assembly is relatively basic: put in speakers, attach battery, close the case. I'm sorry to have to be so blunt, but an assembly process that can be completed in two minutes doesn't teach people very much. If the hardware, described as teaching children, actually gives them little education and less choice, I have to wonder how good the software education experience is. I don't know, and it may be markedly superior, but my initial confidence has waned.

    Meanwhile, there are educational computers and kits that I think are more useful. Unsurprisingly, most of these are based around a Raspberry Pi, which already provides a lot of the facilities of this. I have seen laptops based on the Pi which include batteries and touchscreens but also include things like built-in breadboards for hardware hacking. I also know that, even if the manufacturers of these haven't built educational resources into the product, the Pi Foundation has useful resources and so does the community. I'd have liked another provider of this type of resource for students, but I don't have confidence that Kano is one.

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