Kids in Australia have never been luckier, with the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities announcing that thousands of laptops will be landing in the hands of students in the new year.

The laptops have been manufactured by Lenovo based on feedback by the NSW department, designed to be both rugged and more than capable in the classroom and out of it.

“It has been a pleasure to work directly with Lenovo throughout the development of this unique laptop,” said Dianne Marshall from the NSW Department of Education and Communities. “We are proud to be providing NSW students with cutting edge PC tools to help support their education.”

More than the netbooks originally released to students, the new computers feature an 11.6 inch screen, second-generation Intel Celeron or Core i3 processor, and a battery capable of lasting up to 8.5 hours. The specs won’t be enough to let them play games, but these computers have been designed for work.

Lenovo's X130e laptop

 

The ruggedisation is important too, with Lenovo making the X130e laptop stronger than the average notebook computer, enough to survive the life of a regular student. To help with this, Lenovo has added a rubber protection to the top to absorb impacts, made the corners stronger, added better hinges, made the ports recessed, and designed the keyboard so that the keys are harder to remove.

In fact, Lenovo says that this is the world’s first value notebook tested for military specifications in durability.

Students won’t be the only ones able to grab this machine, though, with the X130e arriving for $673. And just think: your kid could be getting one for free.

If you have a student in year 9 at a NSW school, they will be getting one for free in 2012.

This afternoon, we were told that “every student in year 9 at a public school in New South Wales will receive a free laptop” with the program limited to public schools only at this stage. Students will have the laptop until they’ve completed the year 12 HSC, at which point they will own the laptops.

Tracking technology has apparently been built into the computers, with “security features allowing authorities to pinpoint and lost or stolen devices”. It’s worth noting that until the student finishes year 12, NSW Department of Education and Communities owns the laptops, and not the student; they’re just borrowing them until graduation.

While it’s unlikely that the specs of the X130e will be perfectly matched for the entirety of the four years of high school, a free laptop with current technology is better than no laptop at all.

Here’s hoping the education departments around the rest of the country jump on the bandwagon and give every student this sort of opportunity.