Schools have been hearing about the Fizzbook Spin for ages but with the IPPN conference being touted as the launch time for the laptop-cum-tablet, very few schools have got their hands on one. We were very excited when we got our hands on one thanks to MJ Technologies in Waterford.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the Fizzbook Spin, let me introduce you to a great idea. It is a laptop, which doubles up as a tablet device (sort of like the iPad!) In other words, one can use it simply as any Windows laptop or one can spin the screen around, close the lid, and it magically becomes a tablet PC where you can interact with touch.
Fizzbook Spin runs a Windows 7 operating system, which will suit most primary schools. It has a built in web cam and microphone which work whether it is in laptop or tablet mode. It also has a wireless router and a couple of USB ports. The only thing it’s missing is a CD-ROM but that would not be unusual for a laptop of its size, (similar to a netbook.)
While a tablet PC is nothing new, this one is designed specifically for children. It comes in a bright green case. The case is designed in such a way that a drop from a low height will not damage it, which is a nice touch.
I played around with the touch screen and found it to be responsive and I was able to complete a number of tasks without any difficulty. My only gripe was that if I wanted to scroll down a page, I have to touch the side scrollbar. On devices like the iPad to scroll down a page, one simply flicks your finger up the screen. According to the makers of the Fizzbook Spin, who I met at BETT 2011, this is something to do with Windows 7 and hopefulyl will be rectified in a future version, whenever that will be.
Another interesting concept is the Fizzbook Spin’s relationship with Smart Technologies, the guys behind the Smartboard. The Fizzbook Spin comes pre-loaded with Smart Classroom Suite. If you have a Smartboard, this is a nice addition.
Other pre-loaded software includes Microsoft Works and Art Rage, the former being the ugly sister of Microsoft Office. Art Rage is a nice painting package and suits younger users.
The Fizzbook Spin comes with 1GB RAM and a 160GB Hard Disk. Doubling the RAM would probably have been a good idea as over a short time, it is inevitable that it will become quite sluggish as it’s clogged up with software. Its built-in speakers are only 1 Watt, which isn’t loud at all but probably suitable for a portable device like this. It also has an SD Card slot for storing digital camera images and a handle bar so children can carry it around.
Even with its minor flaws, the Fizzbook Spin is one of the most exciting developments to happen to the PC in the education market. This is a mobile learning device in its truest sense. Thinking of the possibilities, a child can use it as a traditional laptop and create documents, play games, etc. Spin it around and turn it into a tablet, the child now has his/her own personal Interactive Board. Finally, by using an eBook reader, children now have the possibility of having all their books on an electronic device. This could have huge benefits for textbook companies who are already producing their books online.
Essentially, the Fizzbook Spin can be a child’s laptop, personal Interactive Whiteboard and eBook all in one. It costs around €600 to buy with Windows 7 Professional and I believe it is worth it. If you have the ability to pay a few extra euro for more RAM (2GB as a minimum), I would certainly do so. Inevitably, there are going to be clones and cheaper versions of this coming down the line. However, make sure you check out the specs before you dive in. The Fizzbook has stirred a lot of interest in recent times amongst schools – they’re certainly going to be in a spin when they see it for themselves.
Last Update: August 22, 2017