This week, Avram Piltch shows off the brand new Hack Computer, a laptop designed to help teach kids about computers. There are two parts to the computer: the hardware and the operating system. The hardware is a quality laptop manufactured by Asus. Featuring a 1080p screen and lightweight design, it feels at home in the $299 price point. As for the operating system, it is a Linux build with tools and features specifically for the Hack Computer.
Where the Hack Computer really shines is the learning platform. Featuring characters that give you quests, Hack uses those quests to teach kids about the computer and how to code. For example, when in a game, there is a button that allows the child to flip the game over and exposes the inner workings. From there, the child is encouraged to alter the game parameters. As they do, they are given hints on ways they might want to accomplish their goal. They are also given information about coding and the inner workings of the computer.
Some of the information that is given is helpful, while others would seem more at home in a beginning engineering course. It is a little odd to tell an 8-year-old child that Latin root of the word cursor, for example. It's almost as if the target audience of the product changed at some point, but the original content was not removed. Speaking of content, the platform is a little light right now. That is because the platform is designed to expand over time, with a monthly subscription, though you get the first year of content included.
Fortunately, the Hack Computer offers an app store of sorts, so you can install some software you might consider missing as shipped. The Hack Computer is available now for $299.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.