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David Pogue Reviews the XO Laptop 303

Posted by Zonk
from the little-engine-that-could dept.
Maximum Prophet writes "David Pogue, technology reviewer at the New York Times, has taken a first-hand look at the XO laptop, also known as the 'One Laptop Per Child' project, or the '$100 Laptop'. His reaction is very favorable, having tested it out via several criteria. And ultimately, he writes, the laptop is about more than just technology for the people. 'The biggest obstacle to the XO's success is not technology -- it's already a wonder -- but fear. Overseas ministers of education fear that changing the status quo might risk their jobs. Big-name computer makers fear that the XO will steal away an overlooked two-billion-person market. Critics fear that the poorest countries need food, malaria protection and clean water far more than computers. But the XO deserves to overcome those fears. Despite all the obstacles and doubters, O.L.P.C. has come up with a laptop that's tough and simple enough for hot, humid, dusty locales; cool enough to keep young minds engaged, both at school and at home; and open, flexible and collaborative enough to support a million different teaching and learning styles.'"
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David Pogue Reviews the XO Laptop

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  • by Kiuas (1084567) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:28PM (#20857567)
    ...welcome our new laptop using child hacker overlords.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by wsanders (114993)
      You misspelled "... new laptop using YET STILL ILLITERATE child hacker overlords."

      Although to be fair I think the OLPC project is more about replacing heavy, expensive, quickly-obsoleted textbooks than anything else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by geekoid (135745)
        A well designed interface can still be used by 'YET STILL ILLITERATE' people.
        In fact I can think of a method right now to help ILLITERATE people become literate.

        But your right, these are for kids that do have a certain level of literacy.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:28PM (#20857593)
    What these well-meaning folks never seem to consider is that not all these kids are going to use their laptops for education and nice stuff like that. A third-world kid, given the internet might well decide to use it for things like scams [cnn.com] (especially when he is exposed to the vast wealth of the first-world) and, of course, porn [reuters.com].
    • by semiotec (948062) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:38PM (#20857761)
      What critics like you never seem to consider is that perhaps they _have_ considered the possibility and concluded that the benefit it will bring these countries and children outweighs the harm that some individuals might do?

      Or are you advocating that we should just cut them loose entirely? embargo the entire continent until they've managed to pull themselves up to the first world standard, just in case any aid we give them backfires on us? (yes, I am well aware that I am exaggerating for the sake of dramatics).
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by AaxelB (1034884)
        I'm not sure exactly where I stand in this argument, but the natural rebuttal is that the money spent on computers for the children might be better spent on things like malaria research/treatment and providing more food. It's not so much "computers could be used for bad, so we shouldn't get them," but more like "computers come with a small number of bad things, whereas only good can come from giving starving people food."
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          > whereas only good can come from giving starving people food

          Not entirely true.

          Merely giving handouts takes responsibility away from the
          recipient. They begin to abdicate responsibility for their
          own destiny. While superficially charitable, such handouts
          can prevent people from solving their own problems in a
          manner much more effective than "outsiders" would.

          Give a man a fish and you may end up with a dependent mooch.
        • by Deadplant (212273)

          ...whereas only good can come from giving starving people food.

          nonsense.
          what if hitler were starving and you gave him food? hunh? hunh? what then eh? ;)
          In any large enough group of people there will be some who will commit crimes, rape, murder and such.
          By preventing the starvation of the group you have given these rapists the power to continue raping.

          It is the same thing.
          the heart of the parent's post was that because the recipients of these laptops are poor they will be more likely to commit crimes than would be rich western kids.

      • I know I'll be buying four of them for Xmas, two for poor kids, one for my daughter, one for my niece. She's only just turned seven, and is already designing video games in Squeak [squeak.org], which comes with the OLPC, so I imagine this will work well for her.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        are you advocating that we should just cut them loose entirely?

        Of course not. But it is, nonetheless, an issue that can get lost in OLPC "Making the world a better place" rhetoric. We shouldn't go into this with rose-colored glasses, with blind idealism.

        When the very poor and uneducated encounter the world of the (relatively) educated and wealthy, it can inspire some of them to improve themselves. But, in others, it can inspire resentment and envy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by semiotec (948062)

          We shouldn't go into this with rose-colored glasses, with blind idealism.

          Yes, but projects like this are driven by idealism in the first place. I suppose there are differences between practical and blind idealism, but while it is important to note the possible pitfalls, it is also equally important not to lose sight of the ideal.

          I hope this is not sounding evangelical already, but I believe the OLPC team (both administrative and technical sides) have considered most if not all the possible eventualities this project may encounter and decided to go ahead with it anyway.

          So t

    • OLPC is providing mechanism, not policy.
      You seem to have the negative view of human nature posed by some of old:

      "For two and a half years Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel debated this question.
      These said: It would have been better for man not to have been created than for him to be created.
      These said: It is better for man to have been created, than for him not to have been created.
      They concluded: It would have been better for man not to have been created, but now that he has been created - let him examine his

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Deadplant (212273)
      and? your argument seems to be that people should be kept ignorant and powerless because some people will use knowledge and power for evil.
      I don't think you've thought your cunning plan all the way through...

      (I think I'll just bite my tongue on the porn issue for the moment)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Braino420 (896819)
      Ya, it's a good thing that scams and porn don't happen on America's internets. Because if it did, that would definitely outweigh ANY benefits whatsoever and should definitely be shut down. If it can be used for bad, I DONT WANT ANY. Seriously though, are you joking as much as I am?

      I love it when people take initiative to do what they think is the right thing, and then the people sitting on the sidelines are like, "Oh, you're doing it all wrong, you should do absolutely nothing like me." It really makes l
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by whistlingtony (691548)
      Ha!

      If those kids become socially, technically, and linguistically educated enough to run the scam, I'd say the laptop is a success. The kids will have learned english gooder... :D They'll have figured out the wonders of email, not to mention begun a lifetime of tinkering with the backgrounds of things instead of taking what's presented to them, and they'll have savvied up to American culture. They'll be reading more, writing more....

      It's jaded and crappy, but how is that not a success still?

      And Porn? Well,
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rockmuelle (575982)
      I'm not sure that the assumption that kids will be the primary users of these laptops is even valid.

      I've done volunteer work in 3rd world nations and the one thing we really needed was realiable, weather-proof computers with wireless communication. The first thing I thought of when I played around with an OLPC was how great the platform was for remote areas. In these environments, the standard practice is to get hand-me-down laptops from 1st world countries. These tend to vary from barely working 386-ba
  • Yo, Editors: (Score:3, Informative)

    by CompMD (522020) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:29PM (#20857615)
    "Pogue" is the spelling.
  • by Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:30PM (#20857637)
    If you take a path no-one has taken before, you're basically risking your reputation (and I guess in the countries in question your life as well) on something that isn't proven to work. Or, in the case of Windows, isn't proven to sort of work.

    The real question becomes, then, how afraid are you? Innovation always involves fear. But it involves ridiculous rewards when you're right.

    When you consider that the course of action in question involves the betterment of an entire generation of children, and quite possibly their children as well, you can't be faulted for at least trying something new. Even something untested, because face it, your old and busted way isn't working very well.
    • Hopefully, trying out XO will involve a few dozen pilot projects in different countries. Given what studies have shown in the U.S. about the value of computers to education, I expect the pilot projects to show that the laptops would be a tremendous waste of money .

      • by Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:58PM (#20858089)
        If it were merely education in a classroom setting, I could see it as a distraction, a detriment of some kind. But the XO is about a different kind of education entirely, one not driven (necessarily) by classroom learning. It's about enabling a generation to become familiar with computers, with computing metaphors, and even better, UNIX.

        It could be like a quantum leap for an entire generation of kids. They might take it to the next level. Punch it up a notch. Fly high. Other metaphors and similes.
  • Eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:31PM (#20857653)

    Big-name computer makers fear that the XO will steal away an overlooked two-billion-person market.
    Why should anyone care what they think? If they're not going to produce a similar product that that two billion person market can afford, to heck with them. Of course they'll loose the sale if no one can afford their product.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:33PM (#20857695)
    I'd possibly buy one for $400 but I wouldn't want the software that comes with it. I hope Bitfrost is disabled and you can flash an alternative OS onto it. Otherwise it's the Asus Eee PC for me. To be honest I really need something like these PCs. A normal laptop is too heavy, too expensive, too fragile to take on short breaks or travelling. These things fit the bill perfectly. I can see an enormous market for them.

    Maybe they should even sell a proper commercial OLPC (in black perhaps) to consumers expressly for this purpose. Use the profits to subsidize the educational version.

    • I'd possibly buy one for $400 but I wouldn't want the software that comes with it. I hope Bitfrost is disabled and you can flash an alternative OS onto it. Otherwise it's the Asus Eee PC for me. To be honest I really need something like these PCs. A normal laptop is too heavy, too expensive, too fragile to take on short breaks or travelling. These things fit the bill perfectly.

      I got a Compaq for $350 a few weeks ago. 15" widescreen, NVidia accelerated graphics. Just over 5 pounds, feels sturdy in my hand
      • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:57PM (#20858079) Homepage

        Bad comparison. Is you Compaq designed to take all sorts of abuse, and be able to withstand water and dust and such? How long does your Compaq run on battery? Does it have no moving parts other than the keyboard? Or is it rather fragile.

        This is not designed to compete in the regular laptop market, but if they upped the keyboard to adult size it would probably work for 90+% of US citizen's real needs.

        • Is you Compaq designed to take all sorts of abuse, and be able to withstand water and dust and such?

          For the average adult? Yea. I wasn't saying the XO should be replaced by a Compaq, I said for this particular user.

          And yes, my two year old son spilled a cup of water on it two weeks ago. Still alive and kicking :)
      • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @05:40PM (#20858805)

        The XO weighs over 3 pounds and is worse in every techinical respect (processor, memory, hard disk space, drives, etc).
        RTA!
        • 6-24 hours(!!!) of run-time
        • The XO's battery is good for 2000 charges and costs $10
        • The XO has a 200 DPI daylight visible screen(!!!)
        • It can run on a 1' square, $12 solar panel
        • Spill-proof keyboard
        Just like the article says, this laptop has many significant advantages - not just over your $350 Compaq, but over my $3000 Thinkpad. I would really like to get one of these for my 9 year old - and I have no doubt my wife and probably myself would be stealing it often!
        • by DrXym (126579)
          I'd love an OLPC for myself. My kid can go to hell - I want one! He's two so I doubt he'll be too cut up about it. He can have mine after I've done with it.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        I got a Compaq for $350 a few weeks ago. 15" widescreen, NVidia accelerated graphics. Just over 5 pounds, feels sturdy in my hands. I use it to cart numbers between work/school/home as I work on my PhD. The XO weighs over 3 pounds and is worse in every techinical respect (processor, memory, hard disk space, drives, etc). Does 2 pounds really make or break portability to you?

        The whole point is that I don't want a hulking great laptop. It's not just the weight (which is lighter), but also the volume. I don'

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by markov_chain (202465)
          It's been said already, but let me also add:

          - the screen is readable in daylight
          - the battery lasts 24 hours in "ebook reading" mode (they power the framebuffer only, while suspending the main board)

          Is there another product on the market that does this? If you reply "paper" I will smack you with a fish! :)

          The other neat point is, it hasn't even been designed for first-world grownups to read on the beach.
  • Photoshop? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:36PM (#20857727)

    The Linux operating system doesnt run Microsoft Office, Photoshop or any other standard Mac or Windows programs.
    Wait--I got ripped off. My computer came with windows, but it didn't come standard with Microsoft Office or Photoshop!

    In all seriousness, though, the OLPC comes with OpenOffice and Gimp, which seem like fine alternatives to me for a bunch of African kids getting the laptop for free.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How can you "steal away" something that is being overlooked?

    It sounds like they may be defining a new marketspace that others will be free to join and compete in.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:37PM (#20857755)
    After all, children do not stop needing cool, rugged laptops just because they have clean water and no malaria. Many US families are by no means reach and those pedal/crank/cord charging schemes would come very handy on scout trips. It's a bonus that the laptops will not run most viruses or "mature" 3D games. A modest market at somewhat higher price in US will lower costs through mass production as well as directly subsidize free - not even $100 - laptops for truly poor countries.

    The fact that the OLPCs are not offered in US toy stores even before pushing them abroad makes me suspect that they are seriously underpowered machines without much available software and are not as fun and cool as the project leaders would have us think.
    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:51PM (#20857991) Homepage

      That's flat out moronic. It's an amazing machine.

      So why not sell them in the US?

      • "It don't fit my hands?"
      • "Where do I put the CD?"
      • "Where is the start menu?"
      • "Why can't my kids play XBox on it?"

      These are ingenious little machines. It would be very smart to sell them to US consumers, but frankly I think the US computer market (something that includes me) tends to be... on average... far too ignorant to be able to buy these effectively. They will consider them all broken because they aren't "normal" computers.

      All this is ignoring the fact the whole point of this project is to help 3rd world people, not give Americans another way to IM their friends.

      They aren't underpowered, they have plenty of power. You don't NEED a dual CPU 2.x GHz laptop with 2 gigs of RAM to compute. This think would kick my Mac LC II around the block so bad it wouldn't be funny.

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:53PM (#20858019)

      The fact that the OLPCs are not offered in US toy stores even before pushing them abroad makes me suspect that they are seriously underpowered machines without much available software and are not as fun and cool as the project leaders would have us think.


      They aren't designed as toys. They are designed as educational tools to be used in an environment where they interact with others with similar hardware, school servers, etc., and to support centralized distribution of software and content by the agency purchasing them.

      I also don't think you understand the marketing costs and risk associated with a mass retail marketing effort, particular of a product which is designed for the specific needs of a very different one than you are trying to market it to at retail.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MathFox (686808)
        I'ld like to add that they need to produce millions of near identical computers to get the economy of scale to produce it at $150-200 cost. A run for the US toys stores would be too small. It is possible that some surplus will end up in regular "western" sales channels.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by falconwolf (725481)

          I'ld like to add that they need to produce millions of near identical computers to get the economy of scale to produce it at $150-200 cost.

          I'll add that it would help if the laptops were produced in the country if not the region that buys them. One nation mentioned as buying or having an interest in buying the XO is Brazil. If OLPC were to open a factory in Brazil to build them n ot only would it benefit education in Brazil but it would create jobs there too. They might not last long but the skills ga

      • by fm6 (162816)

        I also don't think you understand the marketing costs and risk associated with a mass retail marketing effort, particular of a product which is designed for the specific needs of a very different one than you are trying to market it to at retail.

        You make it sound more complicated than it is. In simple terms: nobody wants to spend a lot of money trying to market a cheap computer that isn't really designed for the U.S. market. Even if Americans wanted to buy it, there's no hope of making any money selling i

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DragonWriter (970822)

          You make it sound more complicated than it is. In simple terms: nobody wants to spend a lot of money trying to market a cheap computer that isn't really designed for the U.S. market. Even if Americans wanted to buy it, there's no hope of making any money selling it.

          I don't think "the U.S. market" is the thing that it is not designed for that makes the big difference. Sure, sure, its environment-proof in many ways to meet needs of the developing world, but that kind of kid-proofing isn't far from the needs o

    • Yet another person who completely missed the point. The point of the OLPC is to provide education in areas that have hundreds of children per teacher, and the classrooms are horribly lacking in the standard teaching tools we take for granted.

      American children already have well funded, well equipped, and well staffed (all relative to third world countries, mind you) school systems. Thus, the purpose of a computer in an American school is often less for the purpose of education in general than for educat
      • by iamacat (583406)
        I wouldn't say anything if TFA didn't characterize OLPCs as "cool", "fun" and "good for learning". If that was true, it would be marketable in US Walmart to parents who can not spare more than $200/child for a computer or else are looking for one they wouldn't miss much if their children manage to destroy it despite the rugged design.

        If instead this is a gimmick that nobody would use if they can afford a real laptop, project leaders should just come out and say so honestly.

    • Perhaps. But it's also hard to rule out the possibility that the market in the US is stagnant, risk-averse, and unimaginative.

      If OLPC succeeds, maybe people in the US will start questioning why they can't bring computers to scouting trips, or why $3000 worth of engineering in a laptop didn't add another $3 of sturdier plastic that would have prevented it from shattering after a fall of only 3ft.
    • The OLPC project's primary interest is helping children in the poorest parts of the world. I expect that providing US children with an inexpensive toy is pretty low on their list of goals.

    • by Deadplant (212273)
      In fact you will be able to buy them in the US.
      Your purchase will also subsidize the free ones for poor countries.
      google for 'purchase olpc'

      I got to see one in person at the Ottawa Linux Symposium and I'm planning on buying one.
    • by Deadplant (212273)
      It will be for sale in the US for a limited time.
      Here is a better URL:

      http://www.xogiving.org/ [xogiving.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by localman (111171)
      Having had success installing late 80's era black and white Macintosh computers in South Africa, I'm going to say that you don't understand the issue. The needs are very different there and here. A rugged underpowered machine is much preferable to anything you can buy in the stores.

      Cheers.
  • by DigitalReverend (901909) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:38PM (#20857767)
    FTFA: "The laptop is now called the XO, because if you turn the logo 90 degrees, it looks like a child."

    90 degrees in which direction? If you turn it the other way it looks like a skull and crossbones.
  • tradeoffs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LwPhD (1052842) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:42PM (#20857825)

    Despite some of my reservations (some of them in common with Pogue) I really hope that this "little laptop that could" becomes widely adopted. If it is, it will be game changing on so many levels. It is so much more than a teaching tool. Not only will it redefine who gets to participate in the market of ideas, it will change the pricing for laptop prices across the board. Perhaps even quicken the convergence between cell phones, PDAs, laptops, and other media centers. The little device is just wicked cool.

    However, there are some darker sides to it. Online addiction [bbc.co.uk] is epidemic in China. Also, if the OLPC is actually successful, some suggest that their owners would man a CAPTCHA solving army [olpcnews.com].

    In the end, I think these risks are worth the benefits. And wide adoption is the least of the project's worries. It seems as if adoption is taking off a little too slowly.

  • Less is More? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rueger (210566) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:43PM (#20857843) Homepage
    A rather thin article to be sure, but this machine does offer something appealing - less of everything.

    More and more, after years of Windows, then a Mac, then dabbling with various Linux distros, I find myself questioning just how much of the junk on my computers is essential or even useful.

    Less moving parts, simpler and fewer applications, and limited capabilities, all sound like positives, not negatives, if only because it could slow the endless stream of updates and fixes, each of which seems to introduce other problems.

    I can see an OLPC machine as really good daily machine for e-mail, browsing, and some everyday tasks like word processing, at least with a bigger hard drive. With the option of maintaining a desktop PC, even a generation older, to handle the heavy lifting of Adobe and similar tools, I could probably get by nicely with this little unit.
    • With an external hard drive at your desk (next to your window-mounted solar panel), some manner of file share on your home network, or even a large thumbdrive, you might not even need a conventional-sized hard drive.
  • FTFA:

    The laptop is now called the XO, because if you turn the logo 90 degrees, it looks like a child.

    It looks more like the symbol on poison labels and pirate ships, if you ask me.

  • by Turing Machine (144300) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @04:48PM (#20857937)
    Critics fear that the poorest countries need food, malaria protection and clean water far more than computers.

    'Cause there's no way that you could possibly use one of these things to learn about sustainable agriculture [wikipedia.org], malaria prevention [cdc.gov], or safe drinking water [who.int], right?

    • by kalidasa (577403)

      My god .... somebody on Slashdot GETS it. My brain is going to explode.

    • by ThosLives (686517)

      Yes, you could theoretically use that to learn about those things. But computers don't bring in resources that aren't currently in a geographic location. Those are protected by people with guns. That's what people often forget: education is great and all, but without hard physical resources that education is useless.

      I'm all for education, but these people need education and resources. In fact, most people will tell you that having more resources makes it simpler to learn, because less time is spent tryin

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)
        education is great and all, but without hard physical resources that education is useless.

        And without education, hard physical resources are equally useless. Did it occur to you that maybe *both* are a good thing? That there could be multiple *complimentary* efforts?
  • than my Osborne I.

    Oh- wait, Adam Osborne was from Thailand.....
  • The laptop is now called the XO, because if you turn the logo 90 degrees, it looks like a child.
    The fuck? Where are they handing these things out, Love Canal?
  • I'm still trying to figure out what social ill these things are supposed to cure. I won't perpetuate the popular stereotype of straw huts and rampant starvation and disease, but I don't buy into this assumption that African progress is being hindered by a lack of cheap computers, of all things.
    • by grcumb (781340) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @08:13PM (#20860707) Homepage Journal

      I won't perpetuate the popular stereotype of straw huts and rampant starvation and disease, but I don't buy into this assumption that African progress is being hindered by a lack of cheap computers, of all things.

      I believe it was Duke Ellington who, when asked what Jazz is, famously said, "Man, if you gotta ask, you ain't never gonna know."

      (And while we're at it: You are aware that the majority of the developing world is not in Africa, I hope?)

      If you don't get why improved access to information is a fundamental prerequisite for development, then the XO will always look like wings on a fish. If, however, you can accept the premise that inadequate communications is one of the biggest stumbling blocks we face when trying to perform any kind of development work, then you will quickly see why people are so excited about this project.

      I met a young doctor yesterday whose initial reaction was almost exactly the same as yours. She's dedicated to health education in the developing world, and she's very good at what she does. When she first read about the work we've been doing in the South Pacific, she immediately scoffed and insisted that we should try getting a steady supply of antibiotics and anti-malarials first. But just last week as she was conducting a walking tour of one of the poorest areas in the country, she realised what she could achieve if most or all of the children there had these laptops. She's since signed on to our national OLPC project as a content developer.

      Solving communications is a necessary - but not sufficient - element of development. The XO doesn't remove the need for vast amounts of material aid, but it makes it so much easier for development projects to actually succeed.

  • My five year old Palm has become unreliable, and i'm replacing it. I've purchased a Nokia 770. It was about $150, but there were deals as low as $130. It's on closeout - the 800 is out. That's something like $100. It runs Linux. It's not a laptop. It's more shirt pocket form factor.

    It comes with a video player, audio player, web browser (it does WiFi, BlueTooth, and USB), email, chat, PDF reader, wordpad (HTML instead of RTF), games like chess, mahjong. There are a bunch of apps that can be downloaded f
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @05:22PM (#20858525)
    Price has been nearly constant in Euros since the project was conceived :-)
  • by Triv (181010)

    Okay. Seen reviews of the software, the hardware and the man behind the project. I'll pay 300-400 dollars for one Right The Hell Now. So where do I get one?


    Triv

  • I'm happy to see this getting off the ground, finally. And I'm happy to see a limited US run. I hope many of the well-to-do schools decide to sponsor a Third-World school and do some fundraising to that end. I mean, seriously, Little Suzy can raise thousands of dollars so her Girl Scout group can go to Disneyland... I'm sure at least a few benevolent people will try to do something a little more valuable to the world.

    And to all the damn naysayers out there... Information is Power. Even a little bit helps a
  • by tmdybvik (70460) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @05:38PM (#20858781) Homepage
    The "Give 1, Get 1" program is in many ways a great initiative, that could allow this program to gradually become self financing, at least considerably less expensive. It also drives manufacturing scale, reducing unit cost, at least initially.

    There will be plenty of takers for the foreseeable future. The program caters to peoples vanity, allowing the giver to flaunt their generosity. Nothing appeals more to the western world than gadgets and vanity, and if our obsessions can fuel third world education, then that would be the best thing since sliced bread.

    Governments could also benefits from a relatively low-cost rugged PC. Try to get a reasonably equipped, rugged piece of hardware for $400. You can't.

    However, the laptops for sale should be of a different colour, for instance red. This would alleviate one of the biggest concerns of the program --- that stolen green laptops became a major source of revenue to corrupt government officials, or to parents who found a few dollars more tempting than their child's education. The goods will eventually end up in the hand of westerners who act like Santa Claus but are actually stealing from the kids --- a disturbing thought.

    Selling the standard green laptop is a gigantic mistake. By all means keep the production line the same, but please change (at least) the colour of the enclosure for the resale variant. Help keep the green XO in the hands of its intended users.

    • by blindd0t (855876)

      Nothing appeals more to the western world than gadgets and vanity

      So I suppose that means we can't afford to have this effort go too well. I mean, if the smug gets any thicker in America, we may soon be unable to see through it! (this is a SouthPark reference, of course)

  • Pogue brings up the point of using the device as an eBook reader. I think this would be a great idea. It beats the likely DRM enabled Sony readers that are to arrive on the market.

    The screen looks big enough to read a lot of text, turn the display to B&W, buy cheap batteries, run with a solar panel, and by buying one are helping children in a developing country.

    BTW - if you find the NYT video slow, its on YouTube as well.

    • Who cares about dedicated eBook readers. Any PDA does as good a job, and you're not locked in to DRMed formats.
  • by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Thursday October 04, 2007 @06:00PM (#20859067) Homepage

    I'll be picking up at least one of these machines -- well, two, since if I buy one for $400, they send another one to a kid somewhere who needs it.

    I hope the distribution isn't limited to third-world countries; there are some poor areas right here in the U.S. that could use these machines. Certain Indian reservations come to mind...

    I need a computer with decent outdoor screen and great battery life, one that's cheap enough I can afford to let it sink into a swamp without diving in and fighting the alligators and leeches for it (I do wildlife research in Florida). This machine may be just the ticket.

  • I really love the mesh network concept. That should be in the big three operating systems already. Hopefully this will spur the adaptation of this concept to the big operating systems. I can see huge uses for it, from collaborative projects to gaming and of course education.
  • Realists fear the majority of them will end up on eBay.

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