Wednesday, May 21, 2008

XOXO to the OLPC 2.0

Yep, hugs and kisses (XOXO) to the OLPC's XO-2 laptop, which was unveiled today by Nicolas Negroponte during the One Laptop Per Child Foundation’s day-long media event at the MIT Media Lab.

Not much detail was given regarding the new ULCPC's specs, but the new system has two touch-sensitive displays and no hard keyboard. Click the above image for a larger one. The emailed press release said:
... the primary goal of the "XO-2" will be to advance new concepts of learning as well as to further drive down the cost of the laptop so that it is affordable for volume purchase by developing nations.
The release also said that by the time the device launches in 2010, the OLPC Foundation wants its cost to be $75. More info from the press release:
Lower Power Consumption - While the first generation XO laptop already requires just one-tenth (2-4 watts versus 20-40 watts) of the electrical power necessary to run a standard laptop, the XO-2 will reduce power consumption even further to 1 watt. This is particularly important for children in remote and rural environments where electricity is scarce or non-existent. Lowering the power consumption will reduce the amount of time required for children to generate power themselves via a hand crank or other manual mechanisms.

Smaller Footprint - The XO-2 laptop will be about half the size of the first generation device and will approximate the size of a book. The new design will make the XO laptop lighter and easier for children to carry with them to and from school or wherever they go. The XO-2 will continue to be in a green and white case and sport the XO logo in a multitude of colors that allow children to personalize the laptop as their own possession.

Enhanced Book Experience - Dual-touch sensitive displays will be used to enhance the e-book experience, with a dual-mode display similar to the current XO laptop. The design provides a right and left page in vertical format, a hinged laptop in horizontal format, and a flat two-screen wide continuous surface that can be used in tablet mode. Younger children will be able to use simple keyboards to get going, and older children will be able to switch between keyboards customized for applications as well as for multiple languages. The dual-touch display is being designed by Pixel Qi, which was founded in early 2008 by Mary Lou Jepsen, former chief technology officer of One Laptop per Children and a leading expert on display technology.
I have to admit, the device looks really cool in pictures, but this is going to generate a generation of non-touch typists in emerging markets. There's no way I could type on one of these. Usability-wise, I give these new laptops a poor grade, simply because I'm a touch typist.

On the other hand, the good news is that the Foundation's successful "Give One, Get One" program from last year will return later this year, possibly in August or September.

And, XO-1.5 will be released in the spring of 2009 with the same design as the first generation but with fewer physical parts and at a lower cost than XO-1. This laptop could reach the original specs of $100 for the XO-1.

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