One Laptop Per Child and One For You


I accompanied my son's new class to the Stockholm Museum of Technology today. An investment -- it's good for me to get to know everybody, and it's good for Junior that everybody knows me as a present and available dad.

At the museum, just about the first thing I saw was the XO laptop, about which I've heard so much on Digital Planet. This is the machine developed by the One Laptop Per Child project, known as the "$100 laptop" (though it hasn't quite come down to that yet). Having lugged all 3.6 kilos of my four-year-old Dell Inspiron 6000 through the streets of Lund and Linköping for two days, I instantly desired the tiny XO. That's the kind of size my next computer will have.

The XO went into production a year ago, with a run of a million machines projected for 2008. 300,000 have been delivered only to Uruguay. 11,000 are in Afghanistan. It's a ruggedised wifi-centric Linux machine with highly innovative screen technology and gigabyte of flash memory for storage. No fan and no hard drive -- no moving internal parts that can fail.

A second round of the Give One, Get One (G1G1) program will open on Monday 17 November, organised through Amazon. For about $399, £254, â¬312 plus shipping, you can give an XO laptop to a child in the Third World and get one for yourself as well -- or pass it on to a kid you know. Perhaps worth considering for your Christmas shopping?

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I wonder if this will lead to an illicit market of XO laptops.
A lot of people looking at paying $400 for a machine they know should cost $100 will make a stop on ebay first.

Wouldn't it be funny if the first thing a recipient of an XO machine did with it was use it to sell it on ebay? Hey, if you're in debt or something, I'm sure it'll happen.

I went for one during the last G1G1 round: It's quite a cute device, small, light, silent. The really cool trick is having a screen that is readable, without backlight, in full sunlight(you lose color; but actually gain resolution). The one downside, particularly for my adult sized hands, is the keyboard. Small, and rubber keyboards have lousy keyfeel. It will accept any ordinary USB keyboard, so it isn't a giant crippling issue; but a replacement for my usual Thinkpad it is not.

I once saw a cool laptop-bag, where one of the sides were covered with solar power film. The owner works in the field central Africa for periods, and said that he hadn't plugged the laptop to a normal outlet for the whole year. The laptop was charged in just over one hour and in only two hours if totally empty. Nifty! :)

Wow! As somebody who lives in a very sunny, hot place (Texas), with doubtful electricity (brownouts every so often), and whose arthritic fingers cause her to drop stuff periodically with usually disastrous results -- I wants it, my precious (to paraphrase Gollum from the Lord of the Rings).

By DianaGainer (not verified) on 19 Nov 2008 #permalink

My son (5) has one of these and he loves it. The keyboard is a good size for his fingers and he has already learned so much.

It has been a learning experience for me, too, since I've had to learn my way around Linux in order to help him with it.

Thanks for the update on this, Martin. I hadn't seen anything in the techie news about one-laptop-per-child recently, and it does sound like a great idea--to get one and give it to a kid, especially. I'm not yet convinced that every kid in the world really needs a computer (or that any kid needs a computer at all), but since it's undoubtedly inevitable that all first-world children will have them it only seems fair to make them available to their third-world counterparts. I also love the idea of being able to have them in the field.