Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is probably known to many of you for the huge phone hacking scandal that made the headlines for the past couple of years. But what if I were to tell you that the multibillion dollar business is ready to give back to society in the form of an educational tablet?
Surprised? I know I am, especially looking at the tab. Unlike similar school-oriented gadgets manufactured in the past, like the Indian government’s Aakash and Aakash 2, the Amplify tablet doesn’t seem to come with clunky hardware or outdated software.
Instead, the thing is described as “similar to the Asus Transformer Pad TF300TL”, meaning it sports a 10-inch IPS screen and packs a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, 1 GB of RAM (probably) and a battery capable of providing up to 8.5 hours of continuous use.
The software is based on Android Jelly Bean, but it’s severely tweaked to serve educational purposes. Usually, that would mean a very rudimentary UI, a lot of “academic” bloatware and some ridiculous “educational” little games, but not this time.
The user interface takes a lot of cues from the Holo Launcher, while the video demo below seems to show off a very smooth OS, easy to control and master for both teachers and students. You do get a lot of pre-loaded academic content and special apps, but most of them look useful, engaging and fun.
Teachers can share content with the entire class or differentiate the materials based on what each student needs to work on to improve, while blocking and unblocking specific features and apps looks like a piece of cake.
Homework can also look fun on Amplify and not in a dumbing down the subjects kind of way. Meanwhile, teachers can build custom lessons with the tab, take attendance in a matter of seconds and monitor the activity of each student without having to keep a direct eye on all of them.
And now for the catch. What, you really thought News Corp. was not expecting a profit here? Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi only tab will apparently cost $299 with a mandatory two-year subscription to Amplify’s services (an additional $99 a year). There’s also going to be an LTE version made available soon, but for $349 plus a $179 a year subscription.
The tablet really looks great and all, but only schools with very deep pockets will be able to afford it, so it’s not exactly about giving back, eh, Rupert Murdoch? Oh, well, at least some private schools will acquire it and it’s not like the students admitted there will already have access to the latest technology and the best learning methods. Oh, wait…