One Laptop Per Child, makers of the XO laptop, and who’s mission is to “provide a means for learning, self-expression and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education”, will be running a Get-1-Give-1 promotion starting November 12.
For a limited time and $399 US, you will be able to have one of the Linux based XO laptops sent to a child who has inadequate educational outlets. But wait, there’s more. In addition, a second XO will be sent to you.
Falling short of the fabled $99 laptop, the XO still promises to be worth the meager investment. The worst thing one can do is to start comparing it to conventional laptops. According to the specs as read by David Pogue in his NYT Podcast, the XO sports only 1gb RAM, and won’t run MS Office or Photoshop.
The XO is, however, built on open source technology, and features wireless web access along with innovative networking software that allows the XO to find and collaborate with other XO users. Battery life for the XO laptop is 6 hours, and much more if the user is simply reading. Charging the laptop can be achieved by a hand crank (1min cranking = 10min power), or via 1 foot square solar panel. The backlight can be turned off in sunlight, increasing readability and conserving power.
I reviewed the demo images of the interface online, and it’s a little confusing to call this a laptop. Is it a mobile computing device that unfolds like a book and sits neatly in your lap? Yes. Will it do what a comparably priced Dell laptop does? No, but thats not apples to apples.
The XO is designed to be easy to use out of the box for children. It’s purpose is to open young minds to computing and problem solving with digital tools. And, since it’s based on open source programming and collaborative ideas, it’s potential for expansion is unrestricted.