Tuesday, May 20, 2008

OLPC news - one hundred dollar laptop

May 20th, 2008 by Joanna Stern

I am here this morning in Cambridge, Mass., at OLPC’s Global Country Workshop. Opening the conference this morning was OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte, who announced the second generation of the OLPC XO laptop, which will be called the XO-2.

Negroponte didn’t share many details about the XO-2’s hardware, but the new system has two touch-sensitive displays. As you can see from the video and the pictures, the XO-2 will be much smaller than the original machine (half the size, according to the press release) and will have a foldable e-book form factor. “The next generation laptop should be a book,” Negroponte said.

The XO-2 will employ the dual indoor-and-sunlight displays, which was pioneered by former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen.

The design will provide a right and left page in vertical format, a hinged laptop in horizontal format, and a flat, two-screen continuous surface for use in tablet mode. “Younger children will be able to use simple keyboards to get going, and older children will be able to switch between keyboards customized for applications as well as for multiple languages,” the press release reads.

The XO-2 will also reduce power consumption to 1 watt.

According to Negroponte, the XO-2 is scheduled to be released in 2010.


Negroponte ended his speech by announcing that the Give 1, Get 1 program, which allows consumers to give one laptop to a child in the developing world and get a low-cost laptop for themselves, will start up again in August or September 2008.

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A few months back, my brother and I were discussing the Sony eReader vs the Amazon Kindle. In that conversation I described to him what would be my ideal ebook reader. Today, out of the blue, he sent me a link to an Engadget page. When I clicked that link I saw my ereader.


The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, which developed the low-cost XO education laptop for developing countries, has revealed plans for its next-generation mobile computing device. The new system, which will have a clamshell form-factor with two 16:9 touch-screen displays and no hardware keyboard, is expected to sell for $75 per unit and will be available in 2010. That's the hope, at least. The reality is likely to be quite different, given the project's troubled history.

OLPC has suffered from a multitude of serious setbacks and has had difficulty managing the development and rollout of its XO laptop. The cost of the XO climbed to $188 from the initial target of $100 and OLPC complains that sales have been disappointingly slow. The organization attempted to sell XO units in North America through the Give 1 Get 1 program in order to offset some of the production costs, but the effort was undermined by serious shipping and deployment problems. The XO keyboard, which is said to be susceptible to hardware failure, has prompted a dubious patent infringement lawsuit by a Nigerian company.

The organization itself is also fracturing internally as key contributors take sides in a bitter dispute over the direction of the OLPC software platform. This battle has led to the departure of several important participants. OLPC's former security director lashed out at the organization last week and revealed that it has absolutely no deployment infrastructure in place at all to facilitate the XO rollout.

Those problems will hopefully be worked out by the time OLPC 2.0 is launched. OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte says that the clamshell design of the new laptop is modeled after a book. It will be smaller and lighter than the XO and can also be opened up completely flat to provide a single continuous touch-screen surface. Like the XO, it will use former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen's unique dual-mode display which is readable under direct sunlight. Jepsen left OLPC earlier this year to found her own company with the intention of commercializing the display technology. She indicated at the time that she was working with OLPC on a new project—a $75 laptop. The new OLPC hardware model announced today is likely what she was referring to.

Negroponte's announcement of a next-generation product seems extremely premature in the face of all of the severe problems faced by OLPC and its current product. Without proper deployment infrastructure to handle the XO, there's a very real question of whether the organization will last long enough to push out a second product.


I’ve used a Fujitsu P1510d in the past as an eBook reader, as well as a small form factor travelling laptop. Unlike the Sony or Amazon readers, using a real computer does not limit me to a very small set of supported formats and I can do a number of other things with it as well. I also did not care for the slowness of the eInk display technology, which has a lot of potential for the future


XO laptop now shipping with Windows XP


The One Laptop per Child project (OLPC) and Microsoft have agreed to start testing XO laptops with an adapted version of Windows XP. According to a press release, the first computers will be delivered to students in developing countries from June. Windows XP will be part of a software package costing $3. The release says that as the task of increasing the level of education in poor countries is too big for any single organisation, Microsoft and OLPC are committed to working with governments and non-governmental organisations.

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The release also states that the availability of Windows, in addition to the already adapted Linux, will allow customers to choose the software most suitable to their needs. Customers want to be able to use existing educational software for Windows and the target is an dual-boot version of XO that can run both operating systems . Although Microsoft denied plans for an OLPC version of Windows in January, according to media reports the OX version of XP is now scheduled to be available in October. OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte adds that developers are working on porting the Sugar user interface to Windows.

Microsoft reports that it has been developing suitable drivers with partner companies for more than a year. The special version of Windows is now said to support the e-book reading mode, wireless networking, the camera and other hardware. According to Microsoft's developers blog, the adapted Windows version is identical to the implementation for Intel's Class Mate and the EeePC by Asus. For the XO notebook, both Windows and the BIOS had to be adapted to allow the system to be started from an SD card.

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The web log continues to explain that the OLPC project plans to program a new BIOS and increase flash storage. Back in December 2007, when Microsoft released more specific XO plans, the 1 GB limitation was still one of the key problems. Bohdan Raciborski, Group Program Manager at Microsoft, explains that this problem has now been resolved. He describes in a video that apart from Windows, applications like Office have also been adapted. He explains that because of the low power processor used, System startup after switching on the laptop takes about 50 seconds

19.05.2008 09:33 HEISE

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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, May 20, 2008


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