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Intel Portables The Almighty Buck Education Hardware

How Classsmate PC Stacks Up Against OLPC 284

Posted by Zonk
from the cheap-laptops-go-toe-to-toe dept.
lisah writes "While the One Laptop Per Child project pulled itself together and shipped its first Beta machines, Intel was busy developing its own version, the Classmate PC. Inevitable comparisons will be made between the two (especially since OLPC's chairman Nicholas Negroponte called Intel's move "predatory"), so Linux.com's Tina Gasperson and her kids took a Classmate PC for a test run to see how it does in the real world. The upshot? Good battery life, easy to use, and great with ketchup. 'The Classmate is so adorably cozy it make you want to snuggle up on a comfy couch or lean back on some pillows on the floor while you surf. Good thing wireless is built right in. Too bad the typical Linux foibles apply. The first snag was having to log in as root to check the system configuration because the Classmate wouldn't log on to the network. Something tells me most elementary and high school teachers with nothing but Windows experience aren't going to get that.'" Linux.com and Slashdot are both owned by OSTG.
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How Classsmate PC Stacks Up Against OLPC

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:49PM (#19256659)
    ...the extra "s" is for extra class!
  • Below is the comment I posted under the story on linux.com. For those too lazy to read it there:

    After five days with three active kids, the Classmate PC still works, and shows relatively few signs of wear [...] We ran through the battery three times, but Classmate was running most of the time we had it; the battery life was pretty good, lasting at least two hours at a time.

    Five days with three active kids? The fact that you believe that this utterly minor quantity of abuse is significant displays an utter ignorance of the situation in which the systems will be used. And two hours? After which point it must be plugged in? Kids in many if not most of the locations in which the systems will be used will not have access to an electrical outlet. I know this concept is amazing to someone who has never thought about life beyond the borders of the first world...

    The ClassmatePC is utterly unsuited to use anywhere outside the rosy, warm and comfortable existence that we in the first world enjoy. I'm sure it makes a very nice toy for your children, however. Be sure to get back to us regarding its durability after they've drug that gigantic (for children) lug of a machine through the dirt on their miles-long walk to and from school every day, mm?

    (You can see that I am just as charming in other parts of the web as I am here)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:58PM (#19256841)
      "The ClassmatePC is utterly unsuited to use anywhere outside the rosy, warm and comfortable existence that we in the first world enjoy. I'm sure it makes a very nice toy for your children, however. Be sure to get back to us regarding its durability after they've drug that gigantic (for children) lug of a machine through the dirt on their miles-long walk to and from school every day, mm?"

      Do third-world children really abuse what they own like that? Or is that the way a first world child would?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Do third-world children really abuse what they own like that? Or is that the way a first world child would?


        Do third-world children really have a choice? Many do not have a roof over their head and those who do live in horrid squalor with no toilets, electricity, running water or even floors. Their machines will get dirty just from exposure to these environments.
        • Do third-world children really have a choice? Many do not have a roof over their head and those who do live in horrid squalor with no toilets, electricity, running water or even floors. Their machines will get dirty just from exposure to these environments.

          I'm not sure those are the children that the OLPC/Classmate are really being aimed for. Looking at the governments that are purchasing them, while they do have some poor areas, they're not exactly sub-Saharan Africa; I'm not sure that kids who lack electricity or a roof at home are probably going to be the first ones to get their hands on one. I suspect they're going to go to poor urban students, whose conditions are probably pretty deplorable by U.S. standards, but they're not dirt farmers either.

          I'm pretty sure that the population of a lot of Third World countries supports this; they have fairly sizable chunks of the population living in crowded cities. The utilities may be old and unreliable, but it's not a shack-in-the-woods situation.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Even so, the conditions for the urban kids you mention are a lot worse than you might think [blogspot.com]. My point still stands.

            • I lived all over Venezuela for almost 2 years. Almost everyone has electricity at least. They may live in a house made of plywood and corregated tin for a roof but they do have electricity. It's not as if they're living in caves. I've never lived in any other third world countries so YMMV.
              • And the kids in Dharavi have electricity as well. But it's a far cry from the reliable, stable power even the poorest kids in the U.S. enjoy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DragonWriter (970822)

            I'm not sure those are the children that the OLPC/Classmate are really being aimed for. Looking at the governments that are purchasing them, while they do have some poor areas, they're not exactly sub-Saharan Africa


            Of the six currently announced launch countries, three are in Africa, and two of those (Nigeria and Rwanda) are in sub-Saharan Africa.
      • by tb()ne (625102) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:23PM (#19257249)

        Do third-world children really abuse what they own like that? Or is that the way a first world child would?

        They probably don't. But their environment does. In contrast to the ClassMate, OLPC has no openings so that sand won't penetrate it. It also has a sealed keyboard so that water (read: rain) can be poured on it without damaging the laptop. OLPC was specifically designed to be used in a third world environment.

        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @02:15PM (#19258079)

          In contrast to the ClassMate, OLPC has no openings so that sand won't penetrate it. It also has a sealed keyboard so that water (read: rain) can be poured on it without damaging the laptop.


          The XO is not just designed to survive rain, but immersion in up to 5 feet of water.

          The requirements for the accompanying XS "classroom server" are for it to be resistant to water from above (like rain) and to be able to operate in a constant 100% humidity environment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Java Pimp (98454)
        I think the point was that 5 days with 3 kids in Tina Gasperson's cozy comfy home is hardly a test of ruggedization for normal use in a developed country let alone the conditions that may be encountered in a third world country.
      • by Feyr (449684) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @02:28PM (#19258305) Journal
        my sister spent 3 months in senegal and from her own account, yes they do abuse whatever they own (or dont own) to a pretty large extent. they managed to break a sturdy plastic fresbee (something which i've never seen or heard done in the "first world") and my sister's walkman, along with clothes, jewelry, shoes or anything they got their hands on.

        what's sad is that in their mind, they're imitating us. they break them to show that they don't care, to give the impression that they're rich enough that they can afford to break them (even if it's not true, it's part of an image that they want to give themselves)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by apathy maybe (922212)
      And them there are some good points. Added to which, they can't even get the permissions correct? Oh wait they aren't tailoring the OS to the hardware are they. I can understand when I install Ubuntu (or whatever) on *my* laptop that I have to enter a password to access the wireless (actually I don't, but that's a different matter), but if they are trying to build something for children and for education, the least they can do is tie the OS to the hardware (al la the OLPC laptop).

      And as you said, they ca
    • Hell I bet in a few years you will see them in casual pictures along the roadsides in ditches and the people who get them find out they have very little to do with improving their lives.

      OLPC and this are feel good ideas when too much of this world does have clean drinking water and adequate medicine or food for the day.
      • OLPC and this are feel good ideas when too much of this world does have clean drinking water and adequate medicine or food for the day.

        But how will we be able to exploit these populations for profit if we don't get them addicted to expensive electronic gadgets?

        • But how will we be able to exploit these populations for profit if we don't get them addicted to expensive electronic gadgets?
          Forcing them to make Nikes for 17 cents per month seems to be working so far...
        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:37PM (#19257445)

          But how will we be able to exploit these populations for profit if we don't get them addicted to expensive electronic gadgets?

          Everything about the XO (the actual name of the OLPC project computer) is open source. That includes both software and hardware designs. If these countries had the proper facilities, they could, and would be quite welcome to, build it themselves and keep the money in their own economy.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nine-times (778537)

            Oh, to be clear, i have no intention of criticizing the OLPC project. I think it's a great project. My joke was more about the general attempts to "modernize less-developed countries", and the expectations and motivations involved in that process.

        • But how will we be able to exploit these populations for profit if we don't get them addicted to expensive electronic gadgets?


          The corrupt dictatorships that keep the countries third-world but live in massive palaces seem to have figured out that one, why not ask them?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        So since they live in deplorable condition they should be kept ignorant so it propagates to the next generation?

        These machines, at least the OLPC, are not designed to be time wasting game platforms. They are meant for education. Rather than have 5-10 paper books to carry around and protect from the elements you will have a small computer and your books will reside on a USB flash drive. You will do your assignments on the machine and zap them to the teacher using the wireless, or a USB drive.

        Well, after t
      • by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:33PM (#19257391) Homepage Journal

        OLPC and this are feel good ideas when too much of this world does have clean drinking water and adequate medicine or food for the day.
        I think it was Smithsonian that ran an article about the impact of cell phones in Africa and how it improved people's nutrition.

        It's long been too expensive to run phone lines all across Africa. However, once the mining companies starting throwing up cell towers, poor people got a hold of used cell phones on their own. Now they are lining up buyers for their crops in the field, instead of harvesting them, trotting them all the way to market, and then letting them rot in the hot sun.

        I spent a 10 weeks with a poor indigenous family in Ecuador. They were more or less malnourished -- a 5-year-old looked like a 3-year-old. However, all their kids were in school. They brought home homework that they did in candle light in their open-air thatch-roof plywood-platform 'houses'. Poor people all over the world take incredible advantage of the meager tools they have in front of them. If they can talk to people in far away villages with an OLPC mesh network, they will. They will use it to communicate and improve their lives.

        Most people in the world understand that education, whether it's how to hunt monkeys in the canopy, or how to speak English to guide jungle tours. It's only in relatively wealthy countries with enough infrastructure and social programs that people can afford to stay stupid.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by suggsjc (726146)

          It's only in relatively wealthy countries with enough infrastructure and social programs that people can afford to stay stupid.

          Don't know if you've been sitting on that gem just waiting for the right time to use it or not, but that is a great statement. Got nothing to say, just wanted to highlight a great comment (sorry, no mod points and already at +5).

          Tools are tools. Its going to take a little effort to inform them how to use the tools, but like you I imagine that they are going to find uses for the

      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:37PM (#19257447)
        *My* biggest question is "What are these kids actually going to DO with these computers anyway?" The sort of starry-eyed idealistic answer given by OLPC is basically "They're going to use educational software to learn, use the internet to better themselves, etc." But take a hard, realistic look at countries like Nigeria and THEIR experience [cnn.com] with an impoverished population gaining access to the internet. When poor Nigerians got access to the internet, they didn't use it to primarily to better themselves--they used it to set up scams, relay points for identity theft, etc. When you give a truly impoverished kid a computer, it's very nice to think "Well, he'll use that to go through years of education to get a job in a country where even IT professionals make a pittance." But, more likely, he'll see the MUCH more provocative possibility of using it to scam and steal from those with VASTLY greater resources than he has (i.e., us in the first world) with relative ease. Even if he can just scam, spam, and ID theft his way into $40 a week, it's more than enough to bribe local authorities to look the other way, feed his whole family, and buy himself access to a world which was way beyond his reach before. To him that's a good thing. To the rest of the world, it's a huge pain in the ass. In a way, it's a warped way of leveling the playing field and "redistributing wealth," but definitely NOT in the way the OLPC expects.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mrchaotica (681592) *

          When poor Nigerians got access to the internet, they didn't use it to primarily to better themselves--they used it to set up scams, relay points for identity theft, etc.

          You're not making any sense. They did better themselves (economically if not morally); the scams were the mechanism for doing so.

          Sooner or later Nigerans will accumulate enough of their own wealth to want to protect it, at which point they'll crack down on the scammers themselves.

      • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:41PM (#19257509)
        OLPC and this are feel good ideas when too much of this world does have clean drinking water and adequate medicine or food for the day.

        So lets not work on anything else until these issues are solved. What are you doing posting on slashdot, you should be out feeding poor children.

        What do you say, you have more experience working with computers and would rather work on something you will be more efficient at than food provider. Tough, can't go educating people until everyone on the planet has food.
      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        Hell I bet in a few years you will see them in casual pictures along the roadsides in ditches and the people who get them find out they have very little to do with improving their lives.

        OLPC and this are feel good ideas when too much of this world does have clean drinking water and adequate medicine or food for the day.


        You know, just like they say "it's not the gun that kills someone, it's the shooter". It's up to the people themselves to use this *tool* to make their life better.

        I'm not sure what people im
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by caseih (160668)
        If basic needs aren't being met, then yes, technology is useless. But everyone who's worked with Africa knows that education is the key to lifting Africans out of their desperate circumstances. Africans are some of the brightest, most intelligent people in the world. Most Africans' dreams are to get educated, and use that education to help their people. Throwing technology at a problem isn't the answer. But if you look at what the OLPC is, it's about education, not the technology itself. The OLPC is
    • I'm a little more worried about the battery life comment. A little over two hours? The OLPC is designed to be able to run for 10 or so if you use it to look at static stuff (like ebook mode). It's designed to run for ~10 minutes for ever minute of effort you put into it's charger (when you're not charging it with that new-fangled electrical outlet thing).

      2 hours?

      Yeah, the classmate is a revolution. Amazing. I bet you can't even see the screen outside very well!

      This little "review" does nothing but sour my already dim views of the Classmate. It seems more proof that the classmate is nothing but a normal laptop that was miniaturized. The OLPC was basically designed from the ground up for this task. To be cheap, energy efficient, to be visible outdoors, to provide connectivity, etc.

      The classmate may work for people here in the US, or in relatively developed areas. But these things sound like they won't do very well if you put them in rural areas without great infrastructure, which is one of the main areas the OLPC is targeting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WED Fan (911325)

      Five days with three active kids? The fact that you believe that this utterly minor quantity of abuse is significant displays an utter ignorance of the situation in which the systems will be used. And two hours?

      My sister-in-law lives in Nigeria, one of the target markets. In town, she says they are lucky to have more than a few hours of power and lets not talk about clean power. It's a neighborhood by neighborhood situation, and she lives in a relatively nice neighborhood. Out in "rural" Nigeria it will be

      • by eln (21727)
        Why not focus on One Meal Per Child, Debt Forgiveness for the Third World, Free Medicine for the Third World, the Robert Mugabe Silver Bullet to the Dictator's Head assistance.

        In places like Nigeria and other African countries especially, it may be more worthwhile to invest some effort into forcing the multinational corporations that currently take all of their natural resources and destroy their environment to actually give some of the wealth all that destruction generates back to the people. That way, yo
        • actually give some of the wealth all that destruction generates back to the people.

          That's the problem. You can't just give it to 'the people'. Exxon isn't going to hand out $50 bills on the street corner.
          You give it to the local government, who then distributes it among the populace. Yeah, right. They keep all that, for their yachts.

          Same as with inequitable food distribution. There is enough food...just no way to get it past the local government thief.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        Why not focus on One Meal Per Child...

        If you give a child a meal, he eats for a day. If you give a child a way to learn about farming (e.g. looking it up on the Internet), he eats for a lifetime.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          No, he eats until the local warlord comes along, steals his animals, burns his crops and rapes him with a bayonet.
        • by Chyeld (713439)
          Give a child a match, he sees for a second. Light a child on fire, he can see for a lifetime. But only if his eyes are open in either case.

          I'm not saying either of these projects are worthy or worthless. But there does seem to be a general pervasive additude in the 'modern' world that just throwing material goods at someone and saying a quaint homily is going to somehow help their situation.

          Neither of these products are at all useful in stand alone situation. Children are not born with an instictive knowled
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mrchaotica (681592) *

            Children are not born with an instictive knowledge of how to use comptuers, the internet, or English, all of which are items which are pretty much requistes of being able to find a use for these outside of making a few bucks on the black market.

            I guess I have to link to this [greenstar.org] again...

    • by suv4x4 (956391) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:17PM (#19257139)
      After which point it must be plugged in? Kids in many if not most of the locations in which the systems will be used will not have access to an electrical outlet. I know this concept is amazing to someone who has never thought about life beyond the borders of the first world...

      The ClassmatePC is utterly unsuited to use anywhere outside the rosy, warm and comfortable existence that we in the first world enjoy.


      The fact OLPC is targeted at the poorest countries of the world, where a family doesn't have an electic outlet, doesn't mean that all people who do have electrical outlets need to use cranks and pedals.

      Take for example the new EU member countries, Bulgaria and Romania. They're on a much lower level, financially-wise and technologically-wise, than the rest of the EU. I'm in Bulgaria.

      Trust me, we don't lack electrical sockets. We even have (gasp!) ADSL that can be delivered over the old copper phone wires in any school around the country.

      You're complaining how come Intel just made this laptop for the "warm and rosy" first-world countries, failing to see that A) first-world countries also need a classmate PC and B) poor country doesn't mean we run around naked in the dust and can't read/write.

      All in all, I feel OLPC and Classmate PC will fill two different niches, and both are great products. Now, Negroponte much be hurt that he's not the only one making children PC, but in the long term he'll realize that the world is a large enough place for two products of this kind.
      • by greginnj (891863)

        Take for example the new EU member countries, Bulgaria and Romania. They're on a much lower level, financially-wise and technologically-wise, than the rest of the EU.
        Hey, don't sell yourself short! There's a Porsche dealership right next to the airport, and Bulgarians are widely respected as some of the craftiest virus-writers around...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        You're complaining how come Intel just made this laptop for the "warm and rosy" first-world countries, failing to see that A) first-world countries also need a classmate PC and B) poor country doesn't mean we run around naked in the dust and can't read/write.

        This is especially important because Negroponte actively avoids having the OLPC project being active in places outside of Asia, Africa, and parts of South America.

        All in all, I feel OLPC and Classmate PC will fill two different niches,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mhall119 (1035984)

          [Rant]

          It's always bothered me how many folks of a liberal bent (in America) will send money, doctors, and missionaries to Asia, Africa, South America, etc... As well as adopting children from those regions. Will they do so for the 'hood or for Appalachia? Many that I've talked with react with horror at the very prospect.

          There's a word for that - racism.

          [/rant]

          No, the word for that is practicality. There comes a point where a large enough percentage of a nation has access to doctors, education, and the means of creating wealth, that giving them access to more of those doesn't equate to an increased consumption of them.

          In parts of Africa, Asia and South America, these resources can have a far greater impact than in any part of the USA. Sending 100 more doctors into the Appalachians or inner-city New York won't noticeably reduce sickness in either place. Sendin

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          This is especially important because Negroponte actively avoids having the OLPC project being active in places outside of Asia, Africa, and parts of South America.

          In the real world, that's not true. For instance, Romania rejected the OLPC program, not the other way around. I'd be surprised if you could point to one concrete instance of any national ministry of education being turned away by the project.

          Negroponte is hurt because when Bulgaria and Rumania start buying Classmates, along with school systems in

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dedazo (737510)
      That was harsh.

      While I agree that this is probably not the best device for the 1-dollar-a-day regions of the world, perhaps it's a good fit for children of low-income families in semi-industrialized countries, like Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, Taiwan, etc. Even for low-income children in first-world nations like the US.

      The OLPC does not have the be the answer to all problems. Maybe there are different niches that other devices can fill.

      People around here complain about the issues with "monoculture". I

    • by jd (1658)
      Since nobody reads linux.com, here's a (trivially improved) copy of my posting there. It covers the main defects I saw in the article and the issues that the laptop HAS to satisfy before it is genuinely practical for its intended users.

      The review seemed selective, but I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. (Having said that, I recently worked for a place that paid the Wall Street Journal to run an "article" for them, so I tend to be more skeptical than I used to be.)

      First, if the laptop is aimed

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:56PM (#19256797)
    In regards to how well students adapt to technology, here is an excerpt from a recent blog entry [myspace.com] by a college-educated grad (and minor radio celebrity in Austin, TX):

    As for the rest of you. I discovered the most astounding invention today. My mind gasps in amazement. I am purely stupefied at the sheer glory of technology. Not since the invention of the mechanical pencil have I been so intrigued by a device that leaves me dumbfounded and invigorated, thinking, "How did they come up with this?! It's GENIUS! What could they possibly think of next?!!"

    My friends...today, I discovered a USB port. Holy balls, it is incredible! You can transfer your pictures from your crappy PC to your slick Mac Book Pro in the blink of an eye! No joke.

    Now, I've heard 'USB-this' and 'USB-that' for awhile now...but I never really let it "register" because it involves computers. Anything that has to do with computers or sports, my brain automatically shuts down and my eyes roll white...until today. I'm on top of things from now on. I can't let another invention like this pass me by.


    Since USB ports haven't apparently been discovered by the general public, what's the chance that "root passwords" and wi-fi configuration have?
    • These were meant for kids in 3rd world nations. Kids learn fast when they aren't glued to a TV. My kids at 10 could log in to linux and windows. And that way RedHat 5.0 with KDE 1. They didn't want windows 95, they were used to windows 3.1. They knew what a root or admin log in was I told them. They are now in their early 20's and still know a thing or two. My kids were more interested in ipods, aim, cellphones and MTV. But they weren't stupid, just not interested. In a third world country, a large minority
  • I wonder ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:56PM (#19256805) Homepage
    If they feel good competing AGAINST a charity. It's like trying to run the red cross out of town because you want your own select staff of employees to profit from the same line of work.

    Why didn't Intel work *with* OLPC to make a laptop to help educate people? Now all they're serving to do is divide the market and confuse customers [re: governments] with a laptop which imho is less suited for the task.

    It isn't like OLPC *has* to run a geode. I mean at this point a rework is out of the question, but they could have switched it to an intel chip a couple of years ago if a low power chip was suitable for the task.

    Tom
    • by profplump (309017)
      How does competing "AGAINST a charity" hurt that charity? Are you suggesting that there can be only one charity in any given field, and that any field with competing charities is necessarily worse off? Not to mention that any "charity" that has any non-volunteer staff isn't really a charity -- they may do charitable work, but they've in business just like anyone else.

      I know people don't always pick the product best suited for their needs, but I don't see how offering two choices for computing platforms hurt
      • Because intel will use their financial resources to push an INFERIOR solution over the XO design. Intel can outspend OLPC on marketing, PR, etc, etc.

        It's kinda how everyone runs MSFT Windows even though it's rarely the ideal OS for most users.

        Tom
      • How does competing "AGAINST a charity" hurt that charity?


        In this particular case, Intel is competing against the end-user hardware platform that is the core around which the OLPC education project is built and to which its software, content, and services is customized and optimized, but is not providing competing alternatives to fulfill the mission of the OLPC project.

        And that's how the ClassmatePC hurts the mission of the OLPC project.
    • Why didn't Intel work *with* OLPC to make a laptop to help educate people?

      Why? Because the OLPC project (I.E. Negroponte) resisted any help other than handouts. He wasn't (and isn't) interested in cooperation. His political and philosophical goals were (and are) more important than anything else.
    • You sir (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tacokill (531275)
      You are dead right.

      Reminds me of sitting on a flight from LA to Chicago. I was reading a magazine and inside the mag, was a letter from the CEO of that airline asking us to donate awards miles to help children fly to hospitals for treatment. It was a nicely written letter and it sounded like a noble cause but as I was reading this, all I could think was.....why couldn't the kid fly in the empty seat next to me?
      (attibute: David Cross)
  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @12:56PM (#19256809) Homepage
    Well if you cant use Windows, and you cant, you have to learn linux sometime. Might as well be young when they dont even know windows. Only admins will have issues like this anyways. Are not most of the kids that are going to be using these computers kids that have never used a computer before and therefore, Windows? Even if they did, they are young and will be much more open to changing as their ties to Windows could only be so strong at that age.
  • The security and authentication aspects of OLPC are vital to its deployment; any dropping to root to "fix" something is a total failure.
    Did Intel address the power issues as well? Or does it expect access to a wall-wart every 2 hours?
    The hardware isn't really what makes OLPC attractive; those who evaluate it only by that measure are missing the point.
    • Why is dropping to root a failure for this laptop? It seems to me to be the solution to keeping kids out of things they shouldn't be in...just don't give them the root password. And if they WANT kids to be getting into it, how freaking hard is it to drop to root? You show a kid that one time and it is all it would take. As Windows has gotten more locked down, there are things only an Admin can do and people have to log out and log in as admin...and the world has survived.

      Transporter_ii
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by plalonde2 (527372)
        You need to read the bitfrost spec [laptop.org]. "root" isn't a viable security mechanism for modern computing, much as you like it. It doesn't distribute, and doesn't offer the multiple levels of security that are required in the OLPC types of deployment. There likely isn't an expert around who can "root" around problems. Instead, OLPC has a well-defined security model that makes sense for its deployment environment.
      • Why is dropping to root a failure for this laptop?


        "Failure" may be excessively binary. If we're comparing it to the OLPC, we should compare the security model to the OLPC's Bitfrost [laptop.org] security model.

    • The OLPC has better hardware in a number of key areas - I think the screen is the best example - I would much rather have the OLPC's dual-mode 1200×900 than Intel's 7-inch 800x480 LCD.

      It's like they were not even really trying - other than to come up with something that runs a crippled version of Windows to dump on the market.

  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:02PM (#19256905)
    It's be pretty sad if there wasn't *some* advantage to the Classmate given the cost, but since low price was the whole point of these machines, any advantage is rather moot.

    I learnt to program back in 1978 on a 1MHz Z80 with 1K of RAM and no software other than a monitor program that let me type hex codes into memory. I turned out OK.

    If the point of this is to get computers into as many kids hands as possible, where cost was previously a limit, then cost should in essence be the only consideration once any other minimal design goals have been met. Putting in more features (able to run expensive Microsoft bloatware!) for a higher cost would seem to be a detriment to the overall goal rather than a benefit.
  • Doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashthedot (991354) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:02PM (#19256907) Homepage
    The better value-for-money laptop should win. OLPC may be taking too long to get into production.
    • by Chirs (87576)
      Not necessarily. It may be that a $200 is simply too expensive, even if technically better "value".
    • by ILikeRed (141848)
      I would much rather read a book from OLPC's dual-mode 1200×900 than Intel's 7-inch 800x480 LCD. Even more so if I had to supply the power myself with a human powered generator.
  • That title has got to change since the blog had nothing to do with OLPC. If anything, it shows that the Intel ClassmatePC was not even designed for the same market as the OLPC. A 2 hour battery life? Standard software interface? And don't even get me started about how the wireless didn't work.

    This is purely a simplistic review of a small piece of hardware Intel half-heartedly designed and is using in an attempt to stall acceptance of the OLPC. The ClassmatePC is not designed for use outside of 1st world cla
  • Don't flame me I know little about either.. Would it be fair that children in the ghettos would similarly treat their new laptops the same as kids in the third world? Has any kind of user testing been done to show what these kids would really get from it. IMHO computers in the classroom is highly overrated. From my observation kids end up using the computers to waste time, surf web, play games. Not that there isn't learning going on. But more often detracts from the lesson that is being taught.
    • by xzvf (924443) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:53PM (#19257717)
      Typical American School classroom: 30 Students all at basically the same level (grade wise) Computer lab available if not in classroom. Textbooks for every subject. Library full of reference books. Teacher and Assistant. Blackboard, overhead projector, audio/visual equipment. Electricity, desks and lights. Computer access at home. Typical Emerging Market school classroom: Lots of students. Teacher. Blackboard. OLPC is designed provide more than just a computer. It'll be a textbook, library, play video, link to scarce resources, link to the world. It can even be used by the parents of these kids to lookup agricultural processes, how to build a pump to get clean water, medical information, lobby the UN and world bank for money, info on micro loans, check to see if their government is lying to them.
  • Misleading Summary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by asphaltjesus (978804) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:11PM (#19257047)
    There are a bunch of false assumptions with this review, not to mention Intel _must_ have put in quite a PR effort to get this story published.

    1. The family "just using it."
    I think there are enough admins here who understand that the OLPC will probably be delivered pre-configured.

    2. So, wireless, much less a steady _Internet connection_ is widely available in developing nations?

    The OLPC is getting destroyed quite publicly and there's nothing OLPC can do about it. They've been out-financed.

    Today's lesson: Selling to governments without 10's of millions of dollars for bribes of all kinds (including campaign donations)doesn't happen. This is a text book case of what happens to anything innovative (read: new vendors) in government.
    • The OLPC is getting destroyed quite publicly and there's nothing OLPC can do about it. They've been out-financed.

      Today's lesson: Selling to governments without 10's of millions of dollars for bribes of all kinds (including campaign donations)doesn't happen. This is a text book case of what happens to anything innovative (read: new vendors) in government.

      Is that true, though? Sure, Intel is doing a great job dominating the first world media, and certainly they are trying to undermine the OLPC launch, but are

  • Maybe I'm wrong... Just saw the screen captures and that's what it looked like.

    Anyway, it would seem smart for Microsoft to bundle in a 'gimped' version of Windows because of their already wide adoption, helping the third world and poor countries get a leg up into becoming Windows developers only helps them in the long term.

    I guess the next generation of kids will just be Linux gurus and facilitate our whole moves into Linux for the home and enterprise. Time will tell, but the OLPC project is something that
    • it would seem smart for Microsoft to bundle in a 'gimped' version of Windows
      You haven't exactly narrowed the selection down there, buddy...
  • Ridiculous Review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigwave111 (1046082) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:22PM (#19257209)
    This review makes me angry. Why the hell would you review something as though it were a consumer product for spoiled white kids who have two computers to choose from and who see if their children's version of "second life" works. OLPC is intended for kids who have one extremely endangered life and need to learn basic computer skills. The fact that they had to CALL a tech support place is the sign of Intel's failure. What, are kids in Africa going to walk 30 miles to a pay phone that they can't afford just to be put on hold and deal with call centers in Bangladesh? Are we trying to punish these poor kids?
  • Thank you for playing. Next!
  • I, for one, welcome our new preciousss classsmate overlordsss.
  • Nicholas Negroponte called Intel's move "predatory"

    Huh? Isn't the point to get 'puters to the po' folks? Shouldn't the response be "the more the merrier?" Is Negroponte looking for monopoly control of this market? Intel has every right to do this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mhall119 (1035984)

      Huh? Isn't the point to get 'puters to the po' folks?

      No, the point is to give them a self-sustainable means to access the information and information sharing abilities that the rest of us enjoy. The computer is just a means to that end. Intel's design isn't self-sustainable, it requires existing infrastructure for electricity, internet, and wireless access points. The OLPC can produce it's own electricity and wireless mesh network.

      Even putting aside the infrastructure issues, third world countries cannot

  • (especially since OLPC's chairman Nicholas Negroponte called Intel's move "predatory"),


    Lighten up Nicholas if you really care about getting computers into the hands of kids. Competition should be welcome in this case. Now they should rebrand to One Type Of Laptop Per Child (OTOLPC)

  • My precioussss (Score:2, Informative)

    by OricAtmos48K (979353)
    Classsmate !
  • You can bet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spungo (729241) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:58PM (#19257793)
    As soon as Intel have driven the OLPC out of the market, they will hatch some limp reason why their own product will no longer ship. These piddling margins don't interest the evil that is Intel -- so they'll kill that end of the market in order to preserve their margins up the other end. It's about time we boycotted these bastards.

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks

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