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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 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.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:06PM (#19256965) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by f0dder (570496) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:10PM (#19257023)
    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 HerculesMO (693085) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:14PM (#19257093)
    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 is going to get a LOT of kids excited about being "into computers". I would think that Microsoft would be following suit. Giving away their OS isn't that big a deal since everybody in the third world pirates it anyway.
  • 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:Predatory? Ha! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by markov_chain (202465) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:44PM (#19257567) Homepage

    It has a Wireless, so you can surf the web when you're near a hotspot! The OLPC can only do that and make mesh networks across a small village so you don't have to be so close
    One more thing: the OLPC radio is designed to run while the laptop is sleeping, in order to do mesh routing without drawing too much power.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday May 24, 2007 @01:47PM (#19257633)

    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 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.
  • Re:Classsmate... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MS-06FZ (832329) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @02:22PM (#19258177) Homepage Journal
    Eek! The heir to Slytherin!
  • 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)
  • by caseih (160668) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @03:05PM (#19258931)
    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 right on track, compared to the Intel laptop.

    In the meantime, if you care about Africa and want to help, the things they are in most desperate need of are paper and pencils for their schools. The OLPC fits right into this but reducing the need for paper, giving students instead a virtual notebook with many more possibilities.
  • You sir (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tacokill (531275) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @03:37PM (#19259429)
    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 Isaac-1 (233099) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @03:40PM (#19259487)
    I have read many of the replies so far, and as a person that lives in the U.S. and has traveled to so called developing countries a handful of times, I feel that I can comfortably say a few things. First not everyone in developing countries live in mud shacks and are covered with flies like you see in the "save the children" tv spots. There are many towns and villages that have at least some electricity, the problem is this electricity is often inconsistant and will go out for minutes or hours at a time. A 2 hour battery life while not perfect is certainly enough to keep things running during a typical 3rd world middle of the afternoon power outage. People that think these computers will be sent home with the students any time in the next few decades are in for a surprise, they will be locked away in the school house next to the 40 year old textbooks and will be shared between at least 6 students. There are also many countries that fall between the so called Western standard of living and stereotypical developing world that could utilize a cheap rugged notebook computer.

    Ike
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @04:15PM (#19260137)

    Well the problem in most of these places is their government. They don't have one. Or.. they do, but it's more like a conglomeration of mafia like organizations. It's a cycle, and the only way we can break it is through expensive, long-term military intervention.

    Much longer than was proposed for Iraq. Something on the order of colonization, really, because they need western governance, western infrastructure, and most importantly, western culture.*

    *other successful cultures and governance could be substituted, but we don't have the ability to give them anything but western, because that's what we understand.


    The problem with this theory is that many of these places were places where, through long-term military intervention exactly like colonization (since that's what it was), "we" (as in the West) attempted to "give" people Western culture at the point of the gun, quite strenuously.

    We may understand our culture, but, contrary what many modern imperialists seem to think, have a really good handle on "giving" it to other people in any reliable, effective way, even with decades or centuries of military occupation.

    In fact, we're quite good at producing problems that way that then the proposed solution is more colonization.

  • by suggsjc (726146) on Thursday May 24, 2007 @05:00PM (#19260901) Homepage

    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 these that we haven't even thought of.

All the simple programs have been written.

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