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Comparing the OLPC, Classmate and Eee 188

ZDOne writes "Small and inexpensive notebooks have been a hot topic in recent months as the Classmate, XO laptop, and the Asus Eee go head-to-head with each other for the low end/educational market. ZDNet has a look at all three systems, comparing the three platforms on multiple points of data to determine which of the three fits your needs. 'In terms of overall stylishness the Eee is the winner, but the XO and the Classmate are both more rounded and rugged, and come with carrying handles. The OLPC XO has the biggest screen, an innovative 7.5in. dual-mode transmissive/reflective LCD that can swivel from traditional clamshell mode to 'e-book' mode with the screen facing outwards, tablet-style (although it's not a touch-screen). The Classmate and Eee both have similar, rather cramped, 7in. TFT displays. '"
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Comparing the OLPC, Classmate and Eee

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  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @01:58PM (#22626370) Homepage Journal
    I understand that although it has a Linux-based OS, it doesn't have a regular kind of filesystem.

    Lately I've been entertaining the idea of moving to somewhere in the developing world where all the kids have XOs, and teaching them to code.

    I've seen two maps of the Earth that led to this idea. One was a photo of the entire Earth taken at night, made from many satellite photos mosaiced together. The other is a live display that they have in a lobby at Google, that shows a real-time display of queries submitted to their search engine, in the form of bright spikes whose height is proportional to the rate of query submissions.

    In both of these, most of the world was lit up - except for Africa. South Africa had some light, but most of Africa was dark.

    Maybe if we taught African kids to write software, they could start businesses that would make their lives better.

  • by LingNoi ( 1066278 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @01:59PM (#22626376)
    comparing apples, oranges and bananas.

    OLPC - kids education
    Classmate - older kids education
    Eee - web browsing and IM
  • Re:Bias? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zugmeister ( 1050414 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:01PM (#22626400)
    If you just got done reviewing two machines each with a 7" screen, that extra half inch on the third may well seem like a wonderful relief!
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:09PM (#22626502) Homepage Journal
    ... to have the money to build all that infrastructure. Say you want to build a road. Well, you need a bulldozer. If there's no heavy industry in your country, you're going to have to buy one and import it. For that you need hard currency.

    I applaud the efforts of government and charity to improve living conditions by donating money, but it won't be sustainable until those in need can earn the money through the sweat of their own brows.

    Look at what it's doing for India, that they built the Indian Institutes of Technology, whose graduates are now doing software development for worldwide customers.

    And yes, I realize this isn't patriotic.

  • by agent_no.82 ( 935754 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:10PM (#22626510) Journal
    Don't forget education and birth control. In order for it to work, education and infrastructure upgrades have to go hand in hand. Properly fixing Africa so it wont be needy anymore is not going to be cheap in the short run.
  • Re:Bias? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x4a6f6e43 ( 837256 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:30PM (#22626740)
    You forgot. The OLPC is a freakn 1200 x 900 display. Not 800x600. It's the highest dot pitch display I've ever seen.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:36PM (#22626806) Homepage Journal
    So why not get a 4 year old laptop? I doubt my T40 Thinkpad is worth more than $350. It has a Centrino 1.5Ghz, (originally 512MB RAM since doubled), a CDRW/DVD player, built in 802.11b (easily replaced with a $4 PCCard adapter, an 80GB drive. Plus it's not a clunky heavy machine like am R41 Thinkpad, albeit a 7 year old could easily drop it.

    And for what it's worth, GAMERZ D00DZ at /., my Fortune 50 company has decided not to upgrade any machines >900Mhz for at least another year. So if that's good enough for corporate apps it's good enough for 7 year olds. In other words you could get a 5 year old laptop worth maybe $300 or slightly less and compare that to one of these machines.
  • by deathtopaulw ( 1032050 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:39PM (#22626856) Homepage
    oh hey look another idiot who doesn't get it
    how can people like you continue to pop up after we beat the shit out of you every time?

    here's a hint... the OLPC is not for the dying children with flies on their faces ok
    get a fucking clue asshole, you're subverting everyone's efforts to make the world better
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:40PM (#22626878)
    Yes, because inserting a 16GB SDHC memory card into the card slot on the Eee is really complicated.
  • by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:41PM (#22626884) Homepage Journal
    >This may sound a bit condescending, but I think they need to learn other things first, like sex education and agriculture.


    Why not teach the students who already have some infrastructure, how to develop more. It would perhaps be possible to have some sort of low-cost, sturdy computing device, introduced into the educational system, to assist in this effort.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @03:07PM (#22627184) Homepage Journal
    While you CAN access the console, install vim, gcc, even maybe Eclipse (if you add a pendrive to fit it), and develop any 'adult' software on XO, it IS designed and built to teach Python.

    Almost all apps in Sugar are written in Python and their code is readily available and freely editable from inside Sugar. They are safely sandboxed so you won't break anything permanently, but you're encouraged to modify existing ones and write new ones - using the libraries in the system.

    The laptop is meant to reveal its layers to the kid as the kid's experience grows. First - games and activities accessible by big, friendly buttons. Then, two of the activities are different programming toys - procedural, building program from bricks, and event-driven one. You gain basics of programming. Then you press a specific button and you get the source of the underlying app. At first you learn by modifying it, editing it - change colors, change texts, maybe move things around a bit. The python code is clean and well commented. Then you can try your own "hello world" and write your own python software that will run under Sugar. As you become expert at Python, you'll learn to use the mysterious "terminal" thing and write without GUI, download other libraries and languages. Nothing is unavailable, but to make sense of some parts you need experience in the easier ones. A 6yo who just begins to learn reading won't find Python sources very interesting, and won't mess with them at least until the brick-language becomes too limiting.
  • Everyone repeat after me, "It's an education project, not a laptop project."

    I have watched several children play around with my XO, and not once has any of them ever asked me how to start or stop an activity using the Sugar UI. Truly, it is a brilliantly simple interface.

    Frankly, the Journal is one of the very best parts of the whole thing. The XO remembers everything you do, automatically. You don't have to hit "save" when you've finished writing something, or deal with "files" and "folders" -- kids have no concept of such abstractions. You just use the durn thing, and it records everything for you, silently and efficiently. When you want to go back to what you were doing, you go to your Journal, and bingo, there it is. One click, and you're back in the saddle.

    The key point here is to remember that Sugar is for kids. If you want an adult interface, you can install XFCE or your adult-sized distro of choice. Since it's just a standard Linux box, it's really easy to explore.

  • Re:eee (Score:-1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:49AM (#22633726)

    "The only thing you lose with the full size, well, is the compact and easy to carry size."

    Which is, some might say, the whole frigging point.

    Honestly, I'd have bought my eee even if it cost twice or three times as much because I live in London, rely on public transport and carrying a full-size (or even "small", like my old 12" iBook) laptop about with you is just not practical. I can throw my eee into my small bag and barely know it's there. It's no surprise that the thing is selling so well here that every shop has a waiting list.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky