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OLPC's XO-3 Prototype Tablet Coming In 2010 148

itwbennett writes "During an interview Tuesday at the MIT Media Lab, OLPC project founder Nicholas Negroponte said that the group will have a working prototype of the XO-3 tablet by December of this year. 'At CES [2011] we will show a tablet that can be and will be used for children probably in the developed world,' Negroponte said. 'You'll see from us, God willing, an ARM tablet,' he said. 'The screen area will probably be a 9-inch diagonal, maybe more.' The most important feature will be a dual-mode display that will allow it to be used indoors and outdoors. Price: $75."
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OLPC's XO-3 Prototype Tablet Coming In 2010

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:11PM (#32364354)

    What's the problem with keyboards? Since tablets seem to be very consumer-ey, isn't removing the keyboard from the OLPC contrary to the aims of the project?

  • Sell outs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:13PM (#32364380) Journal
    I realize they had lofty goals, but to see them fail so utterly in their mission takes away most of their credibility. The whole point was to bring computers to the developing world and break vendor lock in.
  • Re:Sell outs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:15PM (#32364422) Homepage

    The project definitely seems to be lacking in focused leadership, but... how, exactly, does that make them "sell outs", as opposed to just incompetent?

  • Thanks OLPC! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tei ( 520358 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:17PM (#32364454) Journal

    I remenber the first time that idea was show here on slashdot, I (and lots of other geeks) where salivating about the idea of a "portable laptop". I even remenber people talking about "100$? I would pay 300$ for that!". The OLPC has made this dream real, and now we have our 200$ and 300$ cheap and very usefull "netbooks". I call this a huge succes (:

  • by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:19PM (#32364490)
    This is probably going to get me modded as troll, but I'm curious anyways. How much of the low price is dependant on our exploitation of cheap labor? One laptop per-child made by a child? (well, probably a young adult anyways) Even with markets of scale, 75$ is an impressive price tag.
  • Re:Sell outs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:21PM (#32364538) Journal
    What has changed? The software stack is still entirely open, as are the designs. This time, they're using an ARM chip, which they should have done from the start, rather than trying to keep the possibility of running Windows open.
  • Re:Sell outs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:21PM (#32364542) Journal
    They changed the machines to include windows and partnered with Intel. Once they started discussions with MS, i lost all respect for the project as that was what the whole idea was supposed to be against. The way OLPC was billed in the beginning was a rugged linux computer with all open sourced software to avoid software vendor lock in. AT least thats what i took away from the initial OLPC discussions.
  • by WillDraven ( 760005 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:22PM (#32364562) Homepage

    I can't say for sure that this is their thinking, but using an on screen keyboard allows for all of your localization to be done in software instead of having to make different keys for areas that use different character sets.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:25PM (#32364616) Homepage Journal

    Given their track record, $75 will turn into $150 by the time it's ready for sale.
    Which isn't such a feat -- remember all the PDAs that cost less than that?

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:31PM (#32364704)
    along with eliminating all the areas where dirt and water can muck things up. A tablet has all the same sealing issues as the top portion of the existing XO and eliminates all the sealing areas of the lower keyboard, touchpad, and hinge areas.

    What it may be missing is a screen protector and in harsh outdoors environments, the lower keyboard area makes a great screen protector. So I hope they include a screen protector as an integral part of the tablet device.

  • by timothy ( 36799 ) * Works for Slashdot on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:34PM (#32364736) Journal

    9" transflective ARM tablet? I want one. Price $75? Well ... that price might have *some* basis, but I suspect that's not the out-the-door price.

    The $100 laptop (and note, I'm not complaining, and I realize that the $100 figure was not promised to Moses on Mt. Sinai) turned out to be, realistically for me and many others, $400, through the Give One Get One program. (And I think $400 well spent; I like the idea, and the hardware is really cool, despite its limitations.)

    Does that mean a 9" ARM tablet would be $300? :) Hey, $150 would be even better, and $75 would mean I could buy one apiece for several young relatives. (And I'd rather get them that way than, say, a big misguided, mismanaged government school Program.)


  • by timothy ( 36799 ) * Works for Slashdot on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:47PM (#32364972) Journal

    I like keyboards, too, but ...

    - a lot easier to add a keyboard (wireless via bluetooth, either with a dongle or internal; wireless w/ IR, if IR is available; wired via USB) than to turn a laptop into a tablet.

    - Even w/ the OLPC XO's sealed keyboard, it's one point of failure avoided in a tablet-style computer.

    - Tablet shape is more versatile in using a computer for (who knows?) virtual music stand, or impromptu video camera (note: offer void in Pennsylvania), or drawing device.

    - Better shape, IMO, as a reading device, too. Reading on a laptop is pretty awkward, IMO, and I do it more than I should.


  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:57PM (#32365144) Homepage Journal
    Touchscreens is good for children, at least this is targetted at them, And keyboards and touchscreens in traditional notebook schemes adds fragility to it if you have to continually push the screen. Foldable keyboards, netvertibles and similar schemes enables you to have touchscreen having the keyboard available but not forced to stay in the middle.

    Anyway, they add cost, moving parts, and complexity. If doing right the keyboards put costs too high maybe would be better to not add them at all, leaving open the possibility of using external ones.
  • Re:Sell outs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @02:09PM (#32365386) Homepage

    > Negroponte said it would be running Linux.

    He said that once before.

  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @02:25PM (#32365610) Homepage

    Or describing some of the desing criteria shortly: OLPC XO is an inexpensive variant of...Toughbook.

    BTW, screens essentially from the XO are perhaps finally coming also to some netbooks, via Pixel Qi (PQ also seems to start supplying them to tablets in general of course; and will do it for XO-3)

  • by neorush ( 1103917 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @02:59PM (#32366212) Homepage
    I use a $2.99 hard plastic screen cover on my iPod Touch, it gets scratched after 2 or 3 months and I replace it, the underlying screen is still flawless, and I throw it around pretty carelessly. It would be pretty trivial to design a protection scheme for a screen like this, much easier than replacing worn keys.
  • Re:Sell outs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Warbothong ( 905464 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @04:24PM (#32367674) Homepage

    They changed the machines to include windows and partnered with Intel. Once they started discussions with MS, i lost all respect for the project as that was what the whole idea was supposed to be against. The way OLPC was billed in the beginning was a rugged linux computer with all open sourced software to avoid software vendor lock in. AT least thats what i took away from the initial OLPC discussions.

    The OLPC project is not about a rugged Linux computer with all open source software: it's about education and empowerment through the use of technology. Essentially it's Alan Kay's Dynabook: a project which predates Linux, Open Source, the Free Software Foundation and indeed Laptops. Open Source technology made OLPC possible (by empowering the devs to strip and rejig down the whole OS themselves), the Free Software ideology was a snug fit to the project's aims and Linux was the most sensible choice for OS since it kept down the amount of work that was needed to get it up and running. Being rugged was obviously a requirement, but in fact the idea of a laptop seems to have held back adoption: as a laptop the XO-1 looks like a low horsepower model with a few fancy bits on the side (sunlit screen, Wifi mesh, fancy battery, etc.). However it's actual usage is meant to resemble that of a book, which it beats in many respects (storage, interactivity, Internet/mesh updates, long-distance collaboration, etc.). That's why the XO-2 designs were meant to resemble a book, since electronic books had fewer preconceptions (in the days when One Laptop Per Child and the $100 laptop were named, before the Kindle et al). This tablet idea is (probably) a more realistic design which eliminates the complications of a hinge and (cynically) trying to jump on the iPad bandwagon.

    As far as I understand it, Windows was offered due to requests from countries that were approached. The small size, bright colours, rubber keyboard and "ear" antennas apparently make the XO-1 look like a toy (which is bad for children how?) and 'therefore not a real computer' in the opinion of many government people who were in charge of buying into the program or not. The test of whether something is a 'real' computer seemed to be (in the eyes of those government types) whether it runs Microsoft Office, which requires Windows and thus without Windows support many countries refused to commit. Of course, as others have said, nobody seems to have bought any with Windows anyway.

    As far as the "selling out" goes, as far as I'm concerned it's an x86 architecture, potential customers created a demand for Windows, Microsoft got their developers to implement it, so to *not* offer Windows would be a questionable position. The spec was supposedly upped to support Windows (RAM doubled to 256MB) but I've read from those involved that actually Sugar was becoming rather fatter than they initially thought. Since it's the "Children's Laptop 1", not the "What the Government Thinks 1" there has been a port of Sugar to Windows so that the educational value of that interface won't be lost to any kids who are unfortunately given Windows. By living in Sugar, which is *very* self-contained (doesn't even allow access to the filesystem) the ideology and "view sourceness" can be kept for as much of the stuff that can be interacted with as possible, which is making the most of a tough choice rather than "selling out" IMHO.

    Partnering with Intel was also not so much a sell out action, as a survival tactic. Intel were absolute c*nts to the project, most likely simply because it uses (AMD) Geode processors and not Intel's. Not only did Intel try to undercut the OLPC charity by selling a (technically inferior) rival product for below cost, but there are reports of Intel representatives shadowing those from OLPC so that each government the latter contacted about joining the scheme would, a couple of weeks later, be contacted by Intel and told to ditch it either in favour of Classmate or even just altogether. This was done via FUD, spreading the "not a

  • I did the buy one, donate one to a 3rd world kid program with the first OLPC. I could not believe what a piece of crap the OLPC was when I got it. I could not even IM from it. I felt so bad that I had inflicted that on some poor child somewhere. If I could find the poor kid that ended up with the OLPC I paid for, I would happily send them a MacBook Air as a way of apologizing and showing that not all computers sucked.

  • Re:Reality check (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @05:25PM (#32368616)
    you forgot to mention how Gates and Ballmer went globe-trotting around the world to all the countries who knew what the OLPC was and required and still signed MOU's. Just look for the timing of a deal with Egypt and how they welcomed Negroponte when he came back knocking on their door. Hint: They asked 'does it run Windows' while they held a big fat check behind their back for millions of dollars and having Microsoft's signature on it.

    I won't go into how much did or didn't have to do with a constructionist philosophy of education. From what I've seen of initial deployments, teachers were very much a part of it all but some where afraid the kids would learn more about the devices and software than the teachers. It's a sad world when educator are fearful of devices because the children will learn more about them than the adult educators.

    And anyone tied to education who thinks that education must be tied to MS Windows and MS Office is lacking in his/her own education. Even Microsoft exec's will tell you 'it's the applications stupid'.

  • by joh ( 27088 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @06:40PM (#32369462)

    It also finally allows to make a device with no moving parts at all, which is much easier to seal and less prone to break. I have no doubt that a tablet is much better suited to what the OLPC project wants to do.

  • Re:Sell outs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:22PM (#32370558) Homepage

    The big problem isn't that it was capable of running Windows- it was that the machine was MODIFIED to be able to use XP

    Oh *come on*, please! What did they do to "be able to use XP" exactly? They added an SD card reader. OHNOES! And that's certainly not be useful for anyone else but Windows (like, say, someone who wants to run an alternative OS on it without modifying the onboard flash)... nope, not at all.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall