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Negroponte Hints At Paper-Like Design For XO-3 69

Posted by timothy
from the in-that-it-is-not-made-of-raspberries dept.
waderoush writes "In May 2008, Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, unveiled an e-book like design for the second-generation XO Laptop, consisting of a pair of facing touchscreens. In a new e-mail interview, Negroponte says that design has been thrown out, and that instead the foundation is working on version '1.75' of the existing green-and-white laptop with a more powerful processor, as well as a '3.0' version that would look 'more like a sheet of paper.' Negroponte also addressed a range of other questions about the OLPC project, including the significance of the project to make 1.6 million e-books readable on the XO laptop and the organization's push to reach more children in Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan."
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Negroponte Hints At Paper-Like Design For XO-3

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  • It makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @10:46AM (#29963332)
    I think that in any third-world country access to "open source" text books on any subject at zero extra cost would be more important than the actual "educational computer" functionality. It makes sense that the primary design goal should be that it is a good ebook reader. It looks neat and at $75 it is a fraction of the cost of current readers ... I want one!
    • by skgrey (1412883)
      I understand the desire for a laptop device that is able to do more than read textbooks. The audience is kids in school, both starting out and more advanced. You want software that also helps the kids learn to read, do math, and possibly watch some basics videos about the world.

      My three year old is able to sit down with my iPod touch and run through a variety of games. He knows how to unlock it, scroll through the menus, and choose which game he wants. There are coloring games, letter and number games, a
      • "Dear kind sir, I am the three-year-old child of millionaire skgrey. My father's bank accounts are overflowing, and I would like to share some of my family's good fortune while he is distracted by slashdot. I merely need some bank account numbers of yours for good faith to proceed with this gifting.

        "With great hope,
        Junior"

        Please don't let your kid get too curious with the laptop!
    • E-book readers will be the killer app for next year's net-tablets, IMO. The good ones will likely use Pixel Qi screens [youtube.com]. As for OLPC, they're doing great pioneering work, which launched the netbook phenomenon. Pixel Qi will provide OLPC the paper-like screens at cost. In e-book mode, the battery should last days, not hours, and with the overall reductions in cost for the multi-touch display, processor (can you say ARM?), and power system, net tablets for under $100 may just be possible. Frankly, I'll ho

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Don't worry, knowing Negroponte this thing will be running Windows Vista by next year.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @10:47AM (#29963362)

    From the OLPC website:

    Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

    They even go on to say that this is about education, not laptops [laptop.org]. So why are they working on building these devices when if all they want is a cheap Panasonic Toughbook? It seems that instead of trying to build cheaper devices, they could partner with a company (like Panasonic) to provide this kind of technology on the cheap.

    By focusing so much on the technology, we are forgetting that the purpose of these devices is to enable kids around the world to become more connected. This can be done with an old Toshiba Satellite laptop from 2001, you don't need the latest and greatest software to access the Internet.

    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @10:55AM (#29963428) Homepage
      Oh come on, how are they going to get a good education on a Toshiba laptop from 2001? YouTube will barely render on one of those things, and will be really choppy, to say nothing of the fact that they'll only be able to see the lowest quality porn. I mean really, haven't these people suffered enough?
    • Well, I see a slew of problems with using Toughbooks from 2001, but I think the point that's easiest to make without writing a whole college length essay on the matter is that it'd be hard to collect 50,000 (the number of OLPCs sold to Mexico) Toughbooks, let alone the 260,000 sold to Peru ( soruce [olpcnews.com]). Even if they did have Toshiba or some other company make brand new machines, doing so at the $100 that they were originally shooting for would be impossible as no such machine existed at that price point when OL
    • by renoX (11677)

      >So why are they working on building these devices when if all they want is a cheap Panasonic Toughbook?

      Probably because being rugged isn't good enough for their need and they also want to have laptops which are: low power and readable outdoor..

    • Of the the most compelling (for its market) features of the OLPC is its tiny energy consumption, which can even be recharged with a hand crank. Some of these people don't even have an energy outlet at home.
      Try that with a 2001 Toshiba Satellite.

    • It seems that instead of trying to build cheaper devices, they could partner with a company (like Panasonic) to provide this kind of technology on the cheap.

      Wait, so instead of partnering with companies to produce a cheaper laptop, they should partner with companies to produce a laptop, but cheaper?

      Yeah, they're already working with existing companies on designing these things. They have a variety of specific needs. They want them to be rugged but lightweight, since they'll be used by children. They need them to use very little power, since the idea is to use give them to children in areas where power infrastructure isn't good. On top of all their other en

    • by fyoder (857358)

      It's questionable whether a publicly traded company like Panasonic could do it, unless they argued that the good will generated by a massive at cost project is of sufficient benefit to share holders to justify it. Part of the power of OLPC, potentially, is that it doesn't have to generate a profit.

      Of course, the downside to that is that they can more easily do stupid things, like not take a profit where its available by exploiting demand in the first world and marketing it there as well, instead doing some

  • Sorry what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @10:55AM (#29963432)

    Dual screens? E-paper? Touchable displays?

    Surely what you really need to make it cheap is cheap components and low R&D costs. Toughen up a netbook for god's sake! At the time the last OLPC came to everyone's attention, it was a fairly revolutionary idea. Then Asus released the Eee range and others quickly followed suit. Nearly all of them make the OLPC look like last year's trash and for not much price difference.

    • by eln (21727) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @11:03AM (#29963510) Homepage

      At the time the last OLPC came to everyone's attention, it was a fairly revolutionary idea. Then Asus released the Eee range and others quickly followed suit. Nearly all of them make the OLPC look like last year's trash and for not much price difference.

      Exactly. The lesson here is that if you really want private enterprise to do something, you have to set up a nonprofit to do it first and give it away to poor people. That way, the for-profit companies will think you're threatening their turf (even if they had no intention of doing whatever it is you're doing in the first place), and they'll go out of their way to compete with you (and crush you).

      So, I suggest we form a non-profit company called "one trip to Mars for every child" and announce we're going to be designing a spacecraft to take poor children on trips to Mars. I predict Boeing and Lockheed will have competing Martian colonies with twice-daily commuter service within a year.

      • Re:Sorry what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by c (8461) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @11:39AM (#29963956)

        > I suggest we form a non-profit company called "one trip to Mars for every child"
        > and announce we're going to be designing a spacecraft to take poor children on trips
        > to Mars. I predict Boeing and Lockheed will have competing Martian colonies with
        > twice-daily commuter service within a year.

        As a counter-example, I'd point out that your scheme hasn't been a huge success for the plethora of "three square meals a day, clean water and some clothing for every child" non-profits. It could just be they need a snappier name...

        c.

      • Only a non-profit could take the risk of a new form factor that no one thought they would need or want. Laptops kept getting bigger and bigger. Who knew people would once again want to put up with tiny keys and bizarre resolutions. Actually there are many who bemoan some of the sacrifices now.

        I am still awaiting the netbook craze to settle down into a form which the majority thinks is both very portable and easily accessible. Its getting close.

        As for why N. wants a new device, because its far easier to

      • Can we start a "50Mbps for every child" right here in the US, and maybe get some decent internet?

        I'm serious. It works. [arstechnica.com]

      • Exactly. The lesson here is that if you really want private enterprise to do something, you have to set up a nonprofit to do it first and give it away to poor people. That way, the for-profit companies will think you're threatening their turf (even if they had no intention of doing whatever it is you're doing in the first place), and they'll go out of their way to compete with you (and crush you).

        Funny AND true!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by acklenx (646834)
      Without the OLPC driving, the industry had no interest in net books. And they still don't have much interest in durable netbooks. And, well, the cost does matter. And since the cost does matter I would question the dual screens on the device (assuming added a second screen makes it more expensive). It doesn't need to look and feel like a book - certainly not for people that haven't ever held a book. And even for those that have - let go of the past.
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        The screens are about $20 a piece, so a second screen, which doubles the screen area, is only $20 more - MINUS the cost of building a cover (folding the screens serves that purpose). So the incremental cost is less than $20. It's too bad they dropped the two-screen model ... it's a good idea. If you've ever worked with dual monitors on your computer, going back to one is unthinkable. It just works so much better.

      • "Without the OLPC driving, the industry had no interest in net books."

        So the fact that OLPC computers have been so profitable convinced the industry to make netbooks?

    • Did they ever get the manufacturing cost under $100?

      I saw an old EEE (Celeron - 600mhz?) going for $135 new a month back.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @11:03AM (#29963512) Homepage

    What's that you say? You have a better version coming next year? Well, thanks for being so honest - we'll put our checkbook back in our pocket rather than giving you money for the obsolescent model now.

    Oh, what? There'll be an another new version soon after that? Well, that's just great! Give us a call back if and when it's ever available - we'll do lunch.

    • What's that you say? You have a better version coming next year? Well, thanks for being so honest - we'll put our checkbook back in our pocket rather than giving you money for the obsolescent model now.

      And what reasonable company doesn't come out with a "better version" of whatever they sell next year?

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        They don't make a point of marketing it to end customers - and in this case, the governments are the purchasers - until they're ready to sell it though. In particular, they don't boast about how much cheaper it'll be than the current model. Really, there's not much else Negroponte could do to kill sales of the XO 1 other than boasting that the XO "1.75" will cause 30% less cancer.
  • So why not make individual units which can optionally be connected together to then function as a 2-display unit?

    William

    • by dargaud (518470)

      So why not make individual units which can optionally be connected together to then function as a 2-display unit?

      Sounds like a great idea. Is there a tablet PC / cell phone that when put next to another one will act as an extended double screen for one of the devices ? Put 12 cell phones together for a normal size (albeit mozaicized and overpriced) monitor. Bonus points if they guess their positions relative to each others.

    • 2 displays == 2x the cost

      That's only true if the entire cost comes from a single display. It's like saying that having 2 GB of RAM in your computer makes it twice as expensive as it would be if it had 1 GB of RAM.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @10:31PM (#29972662) Homepage

    The trouble with the OLPC is that it's mostly a vehicle so that Negroponte can hang out with heads of state and such. Actually shipping product is secondary. It's all about national-level deals. Remember when OLPC had a "buy 2, get 1, give 1" program, and they botched basic order fulfillment?

    Those things should be in bubble-packs alongside the graphing calculators, with the price down to the original $99 by now. They don't need a fancier model. They need a cheaper model. They're being run over by the netbook industry. Netbooks are down to $100 if you buy in bulk from China. Look on Alibaba.

  • the new OLPC has what I dreamed of:

    -

    two screens making up two pages like a book - allow me to read as I am used to.

    two screens allowing one for reference data, the other for the input to an application -

    - or in the case of lecture - one page for the teacher, one for the student

    one of the sreens duplicating as touch sensitive keyboard allow me to enter my text

    and 1.6 Mio books available plus the Gutenberg Project allow me to read ( as lot )

    I would have preferred a lower-power-guzzling CPU

    and as an

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