Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comparing the OLPC, Classmate and Eee

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the choose-but-choose-wisely dept.

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. '"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Bias? (0)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626312)

How else do you describe complimenting the OLPC's 7.5" screen while calling the 7" screen on the others cramped?

Re:Bias? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626354)

I see you've never had sex. .5" makes a huge difference.

Re:Bias? (1)

gacl (1078259) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627574)

Dude, this is Slashdot. If you had said: ".5" makes no difference at all." You would have been modded +5 Informative.

Re:Bias? (5, Informative)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626384)

It's the crazy sort of bias that favors features over inferior or nonexistent features:
  • 7.5 > 7
  • dual-mode transmissive/reflective LCD
  • swivels

I'm off to shit my ass off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626720)

While on the subject of the OLPC and Linux, I thought I'd go take a dump.

Re:Bias? (5, Insightful)

0x4a6f6e43 (837256) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Bias? (5, Informative)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627346)

The OLPC is a freakn 1200 x 900 display. Not 800x600. It's the highest dot pitch display I've ever seen.

The OLPC's resolution is given in what would be termed "subpixels" on a traditional display. So in one sense, an 800x600 RGB-stripe LCD of the same size would actually have a higher resolution: 1.44 million fixed-chroma/variable-intensity picture elements, vs. 1.08 million for the OLPC screen.

Re:Bias? (4, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628152)

Except, and I know this is obvious but for those not aware, no other LCD display can use it's full set of subpixels in B&W mode for things like text rendering, like the OLPC can. So during full-colour use it's effective resolution is roughly 800x600, it also has the option of acting as a full, 1200x900 B&W display. And, let me tell ya, in that mode, it looks *fantastic*.

Re:Bias? (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626742)

True, but you can't refer to anything as "cramped" over a half-inch difference.

Well, okay. But not screens.

Re:Bias? (5, Interesting)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627158)

You forget that not all inches are equal. Since the OLPC has a squarer aspect ratio (4:3) than the other laptops (5:3) the same seven inches actually means more display area for the OLPC. This difference plus the extra .5" for the OLPC give the OLPC a display area about 6 square inches larger than the display area of the other laptops.

Add to that approximately three times the resolution (1200x900 vs 800x480) and it becomes pretty obvious that the OLPC has a much less cramped screen.

Re:Bias? (3, Insightful)

zugmeister (1050414) | more than 6 years ago | (#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!

Re:Bias? (4, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626692)

If it's a 4:3 screen, then the OLPC is giving you almost 15% more screen.
That's not so trivial.

Re:Bias? (0, Redundant)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626916)

Sounds like they just started leaking info on the new 9" version of the eepc - here [engadget.com] . Looks like more or less the same form factor, bigger screen. We shall see on costs.

Re:Bias? (3, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626964)

Probably because of Sugar vs XP and others.

I've tried Sugar (on a PC, LiveCD), and it's designed for small display. The icons are big, spaced wide apart, there are no very small elements of the UI at all, the windowless interface always gives whole screen real estate to the currently running application, you never find yourself struggling to decipher some tiny text or click some small piece of UI. It manages the available space well and provides a very good middle ground between number of items visible on the screen at any time and depth of user interface trees.

OTOH WinXP is barely capable of running at 800x600 and not one dialog window will simply not fit on the screen. Switch your XP desktop to 800x600 and try playing with it for a few hours, I assure you you'll feel the screen is cramped and the interface clunky and uncomfortable. Lots of scrolling, lots of opening additional submenus, moving windows, blindly pressing enter in hope it accepts the "OK" of a dialog that didn't fit on the screen and isn't resizable - I did use XP in 800x600 for a while and it does feel cramped.

Re:Bias? (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627140)

XO Resolution: 1200x900 (Grayscale), or 800x600 (Color)
Classmate/Eee Resolution: 800x480

Yes, four-freaking-eighty. Did you even look at all the pictures and read the related text? The third to the last at even a casual glance makes it painfully obvious how cramped looking the other two are in comparison to the XO, whether the specs make it seem that way or not. Doesn't seem even remotely biased to me; more like spot on.

Re:Bias? (1)

emilper (826945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627572)

I am certain XO is superb, but ...

XO - not on sale
Eee - on sale in all the shops

so until I can buy an XO, whether it has 2400x1900 resolution or 600x480, and runs GNU Hurd or Multics, I could not care less ...

eee (1)

sveard (1076275) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626348)

I would most certainly buy an EEE if it hadn't had those amazingly ugly speakers on both sides of the screen. If it weren't for those, the screen could be an inch bigger.

Just release the damn thing without speakers (or integrate them somewhere on the keyboard) and with a audio out jack. And the other two (olpc and classmate) are toys IMO. Sure they're decent for educational purposes but not for bussinesses, unlike the EEE (if equiped with a decent operating system)

Re:eee (3, Informative)

mls (97121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626456)

If the speakers weren't there, I doubt the screen would be an inch bigger.
The 7 inch screens are a commodity (think portable DVD player) and as such are cheapish to produce. A 9 inch screen (the next logical step up in my mind), are more expensive now, likely because their demand is lower. I'm sure they could offer a larger screen, but at a much much higher cost, one that wouldn't compete well with the $500 low-end notebooks.

Re:eee (4, Informative)

lixee (863589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626644)

You do realize that the Eee PC900 was announced today at CeBIT, don't you? http://eeesite.net/2008/03/asus-announces-next-generation-eee-pc.html [eeesite.net]

Re:eee (3, Informative)

mls (97121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626928)

I knew it was coming, but didn't realize it had been announced yet.
9 inch screen and more RAM and storage for 100 Euros more ($150 US).
399 Euro's equates to $600 at today's rates. Like I said, you can get a low-end full-size notebook (with the Vista tax even) for that price or less. The only thing you lose with the full size, well, is the compact and easy to carry size. Battery life might be better with the Eee, though that is hard to compare without specifics.

Re:eee (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626904)

Make up for the increased cost by skimping on other components. I don't care how slow it is. I got real work done on original pentiums, but I've never done real work on a 7 inch screen. Screen size is absolutely the most important feature of these machines.

Re:eee (3, Interesting)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627644)

I would disagree. I use an Eee for a lot of stuff because it's small and portable. It's obviously not good for graphics programmes, but I would never use anything smaller than a regular laptop for that anyway (and I wouldn't even think of using it for gaming!) It's fine for actually viewing photos. Word processing is perfectly good, especially if you're prepared to play with the settings to allow the text to fill the screen. Ditto email and web. I code on it too, and again the size doesn't cause a problem.

I'm sure some people who've used an Eee haven't had as good an experience, and that's fair enough. But I would say don't write it off until you've actually tried it for a while. It takes some getting used to, but a month down the line I think it's one of the best purchases I've ever made.

Re:eee (1, Funny)

plus_M (1188595) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626458)

if equiped with a decent operating system
Vista does not run on the Eee.

Re:eee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626552)

They said decent operating system.

Re:eee (3, Informative)

mls (97121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626492)

In addition, a larger screen would draw more power; something the Eee and it's small battery try to sip.

Re:eee (2, Informative)

bjmoneyxxx (1227784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627074)

I'm not sure about the third, but the EEE PC gets ~2.5-3 hours, while the OLPC can get 10-12 in black and white mode. So their goes your fig-brained idea.

Re:eee (1)

mls (97121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628038)

I'll go fishing...

I have utmost respect for the OLPC and it's superior screen design when it comes to power consumption and daylight readability. If you haven't heard Mary Lou Jepsen speak on the subject, here is presentation she gave the other day.
http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/02/20/mary-lou-jepsen-at-greener-gadgets/ [inhabitat.com]

FWIW, I was contrasting the battery life of the Eee PC against it's current version and other readily available low-cost notebooks, not the XO or Classmate (which likely is comparable to the Eee). I could have been more clear. The 3.5 hours the 4G and 8G models get is much better than what I get on either of my notebooks. That is primarily due to the small screen requiring less power, and the solid state "disk" not needing to spin like a conventional drive. A 9 inch screen based on the same technology would draw more power, and would drain the battery quicker.

Re:eee (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626624)

If it weren't for those, the screen could be an inch bigger.


The screen won't magically become bigger if you remove the speakers. It would require selecting a larger LCD, and that means it would cost more. At the very least, it would cost more to add a larger screen than you would save by removing the speakers. You would then have to issue headphones with each OLPC, and probably have to replace them as they are lost/damaged/stolen.

The target audience isn't the average /. geek.

Re:eee (1)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626726)

If it weren't for those, the screen could be an inch bigger.


The screen won't magically become bigger if you remove the speakers. It would require selecting a larger LCD, and that means it would cost more. At the very least, it would cost more to add a larger screen than you would save by removing the speakers. You would then have to issue headphones with each OLPC, and probably have to replace them as they are lost/damaged/stolen.

The target audience isn't the average /. geek.
He's actually talking about the Eeepc, not the OLPC. Yes, it would cost more for the bigger screen, but no, Asus would not have to provide headphones, and certainly wouldn't have to replace them after they're lost/damaged/stolen.

Re:eee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626734)

The screen won't magically become bigger if you remove the speakers. It would require selecting a larger LCD

No?! You have to be kidding! I thought nanotech would increase the screen's size automagically?!

Re:eee (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627502)

Last time I checked the EEE had a good OS on it. With the latest version of Ubuntu I find that I only have boot Windows to run Flight Simulator.
I can surf the web, do email, work with digital pictures, chat, IM, play videos, and use Quicken on-line just fine under Linux.
If you have some software that you must use that only works in Windows well then yes you may need Windows but that has nothing to do with the quality of the OS.

Two words... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626352)

The XO wins because it's made by SOCIALISTS and the others are just commercial garbage.

Can one develop software on the XO? (5, Insightful)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626370)

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.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1, Redundant)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626448)

Here's an idea--instead of giving African kids laptops and teaching them C, why don't you focus on some more basic stuff? God knows roads, medicine, sanitation, water, better farming techniques, industrial techniques, etc. are nowhere near as geek-tastic as getting these kids to write code, but which do you think will be more useful?

They need to earn foreign exchange... (4, Insightful)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626502)

... 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.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (3, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626588)

Roads are obsolete technology. They suit horses and cars, and horses are looking like the safer long term bet than cars at this point. States shouldn't be investing in them, but rather in rail systems that are fed by a local renewable energy source, such that they can run forever without a fuel source, and people just get on and off as they see fit. But again, that doesn't result in ongoing leverage over the population, so no business would want to build it.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626762)

How is this comment modded interesting? It's ignorant and naive. Question for you- what is the cost difference between a basic paved road and the transit system you describe? Now ask yourself why nobody wants to build it.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (4, Informative)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626910)

What is the real human cost difference between:

1) A basic paved road, with maintenance, infrastructure to create fuel, infrastructure to transport fuel, infrastructure to create cars, infrastructure to maintain cars, training in driving, compensation for human error

2) A basic rail system, with maintenance, a renewable energy system, with maintenance

The rail system has a greater upfront cost, but negligible ongoing cost. They did feasibility studies in my region, and determined that it would take around 20 million dollars to set it up.

They didn't have the budget, and they're not allowed to save for next year or their funding gets reduced, so they instead blew their 5 million buying buses that kneel to let disabled passengers on and have a signal system to change traffic lights.

Total waste of money, doesn't fix the transportation problems, leaves us relying on fossil fuels, and if the political system allowed them to save up for new infrastructure with their federal money, they could have paid for it in less than 5 years with the money they wasted on nothing at all.

Someone here is ignorant and naive, but it isn't me.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (2, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627018)

You've left out at least 1 zero there- Seattle had a initiative for a light rail extention that failed, another dozen or so miles was going to cost billions.

As for the buses- people in wheelchairs are human too. They deserve access to public transportation. That means they need buses that have some sort of ramp or kneeling system.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627286)

It may cost billions to extend a large commuter light rail a dozen miles in a major metropolitan area in the United States. How much you want to bet in the developing world this is all about, and a cheaper less fancy setup, the cost would be a fraction of that? Really that's just apples to oranges.

Same applies to disabled people--in the United States where we have the resources to do so, we are able force people to see to their needs. Elsewhere, this really can't be a primary concern, and such things can honestly reasonably be overlooked in the short term for more important ends.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627762)

You must not be an American. In this country, we would obviously choose option 1, look how many jobs it would create in my congressional district! Not to mention so many new opportunities for increased "revenue" to the state.. You could tax the income of the construction workers, permits, fees, and taxes for the fuel companies, tax cars and fuel... its wonderful! Definitely makes too much sense for you to be American.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626802)

Very smart plan, and it is one that is very doable on the African Continent. Such a programme would enable them to skip huge pieces of now obsolete planning and infastructure that is hobbling the wests growth.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626946)

if you had any idea how many horses were in use before cars became common-place, you would cease recommending horses as "safer" in any term, long or short. The whole world would be covered in their manure. You would run out of places to compost it, let alone the billions of acres that would have to be used to produce feed for them, or the new roads and trucks required to ship the feed to the animals...

how about just investing in small parallel running monorail tracks featuring 100 passenger compartments powered by complaints.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627310)

Roads are obsolete technology. They suit horses and cars, and horses are looking like the safer long term bet than cars at this point.

Don't forget bicycles! They were on the roads before cars, and are still on the roads today.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22627392)

Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Tell me more about this renewable energy source, that can run forever without a fuel source...

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627522)

Given this:

that doesn't result in ongoing leverage over the population, so no business would want to build it.


Why would government seek to build it either?

It's not as if governments don't seek to control their own populations...

I want to ride my bicycle (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627642)

Roads are obsolete technology.
There are millenia-old Roman roads still in use today.

Re:They need to earn foreign exchange... (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627500)

Say you want to build a road. Well, you need a bulldozer.
I've seen the photographs that Julius Caesar took of the bulldozers building the Appian Way.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (2, Insightful)

agent_no.82 (935754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626510)

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:Can one develop software on the XO? (2, Insightful)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626856)

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

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1)

bjmoneyxxx (1227784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627284)

parent should be modded up, people really do not seem to understand the basic idea behind this project. It's for developing nations that already have some sort of infrastructure and are trying to improve other parts of their country, in the OLPC's case, education. All these fuck-heads trying to be funny should be dropped in one of these countries with out roads and what-not, you'd be squealing like a fat piggy in no day.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626932)

Here's an idea--instead of giving African kids laptops and teaching them C, why don't you focus on some more basic stuff? God knows roads, medicine, sanitation, water, better farming techniques, industrial techniques, etc. are nowhere near as geek-tastic as getting these kids to write code, but which do you think will be more useful?

In many places they have water and they used to have farms. Then the US (and other countries) dumped produce on their market below the true cost (subsidized) such that local farmers could not compete. So the local farmers were undercut, couldn't pay their taxes and are now unemployed and homeless. It isn't that they don't know how to farm. It is that they can't make enough money farming to get by. They might be able to compete despite the unfair price of imported food if they could use modern practices, but they don't have the industrial infrastructure needed to make the heavy equipment and fertilizers and irrigation systems and they don't have the capital to buy it. The money needed to fund such a project would be way, way, way more than what is spent on the OLPC project.

Truthfully, there really isn't a better industry than intellectual property creation for high returns on low initial investment. This doesn't necessarily mean programming (in Python not C, since that is what ships with OLPC). Heck, people in some parts of the world could probably make a living with a XO laptop just by solving captchas. Then there is writing, video and audio creation, etc.

The point of the OLPC project is not to just supply what is most needed today, but rather to augment the charity food, water, shelter, and medical care with the tools of education (for any subject) and with the cheapest possible way for them to create a sustainable industry that will allow their society to stop relying on charity and start building again.

P.S. did you know Remote Area Medical, a charity that provides medical care primarily to Africa and east Asia has recently had to start working in the United States because so many Americans cannot get or afford basic medical care? Maybe the US should stop teaching computer science and focus on teaching medicine to more people?

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (0, Flamebait)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627446)

I don't think that either will be particularly useful in the long run, but apparently they go a long way towards assuaging white guilt, which is their real selling point.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (0, Flamebait)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626532)

This may sound a bit harsh, but I think they need to learn other things first, like sex education and agriculture.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626842)

Preferrably in that order... hell, the first will reduce the severity of the second.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (2, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626884)

>This may sound a bit condescending, but I think they need to learn other things first, like sex education and agriculture.

Fixed.

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.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627060)

You are a complete idiot. You are pretty much saying, rather than give a blind man a cane and instruction on how to move around (IE how NOT to fall over your cat, down the stairs), you want to put him to work in an assembly line.

There may be the most brilliant minds locked up in the cesspool called Africa, but if they can't eat and keep from getting AIDS, what bloody good does it do them to know how to set up a network or write an ftp client or whatever. Seriously.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627538)

What have you done for Africa?

I've contributed time and money to microloans (set up small businesses), AIDS prevention and care, clean water initiatives (dig wells, set up distribution systems, monitor contaminant levels), Doctors Without Borders, malaria extermination, blindness prevention (there are some common ways to become blind in underdeveloped countries).

They need all of the above, and a way for the able to advance, just as a blind man needs to learn Braille...

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (5, Informative)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626576)

although [the XO] has a Linux-based OS, it doesn't have a regular kind of filesystem.
It does have a regular filesystem. The sugar UI organizes things based on activities (a.k.a. programs) and has a journal (a.k.a. search system) that shows you all your documents (a.k.a. files). Despite this abstraction, a normal filesystem hides beneath.

'Hides' is probably the wrong word. One of the activities is a terminal, with which you can browse the conventional Linux filesystem normally. You can SSH into the XO, and use terminal commands to install new software. You can even install a new desktop environment (e.g. xfce) to replace sugar if you prefer. It's a low-power machine, but it's running a full-featured Linux distro.

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.
That sounds like a fantastic (and altruistic) thing to do. If you're used to coding in Linux, and using Python in particular, you'll find coding on the XO to be a fun. Personally I find the built-in keyboard hard to use, so I usually connect a USB keyboard and mouse if I'm working on it for an extended period.

I do recommend Python for beginners (2, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626626)

Hmm... I'll look into acquiring an XO.

It happens that I studied Russian in college. After the fall of the Soviet Union, I had a similar idea, not so much to teach kids but to help exisiting Russian software engineers start software businesses so they could trade with the West.

I happened to meet Esther Dyson when she came to speak at Apple, where I worked at the time. She had traveled extensively in Russia, trying to bootstrap the software industry. When I told her my idea, she grabbed my arm and imperatively said "Russia needs you".

But in the end, I never acted on my idea.

I have a good job with a good company, and great coworkers. But I'm getting old, and feeling very concerned about what I'm going to leave behind when I'm gone. I know none of my code is going to outlive me. I'd like to leave more of a legacy than having gotten a lot of other people rich by writing proprietary code for them.

Funny you mention Python. (5, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627184)

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.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1)

shunnicutt (561059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627366)

> Personally I find the built-in keyboard hard to use, so I usually connect a USB keyboard and mouse if I'm working on it for an extended period.

When I connect an external keyboard, I turn the display around on the XO and angle it away from me, so that the XO's keyboard is behind the screen, rather than in front. I find this to be more comfortable.

You may have already considered this, but nobody I've demonstrated this to had figured it out for themselves.

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626612)

"The other is a live display that they have in a lobby at Google... most of the world was lit up - except for Africa."

Maybe they mostly use MSN or Yahoo in Africa?

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1)

0x4a6f6e43 (837256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626830)

The XO is Fedora. The file system is normal (a $40 8 Gig sdhc card drops right in and gets some good storage space). Yes you can develop code for it. It supports python with a "kid friendly" environment that makes programming a little more accessible. Kind of reminds me of the old Commodore 64, you can hack code easily. Check it's wiki: wiki.laptop.org

Re:Can one develop software on the XO? (1)

kevin@ank.com (87560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627494)

Just to clarify, the XO has a hierarchical filesystem that you can access from the shell. The actual filesystem is JFFS (for Journaling Flash Filesystem) which allows you to turn off the laptop by holding the power button without losing information or waiting through an fsck.

XO activities store files in a keyed datastore hosted on the filesystem, so for the most part you are protected from the filesystem, but it is still there if you need it e.g. for development.

comming up next on slashdot.. (1, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626376)

comparing apples, oranges and bananas.

OLPC - kids education
Classmate - older kids education
Eee - web browsing and IM

Re:comming up next on slashdot.. (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626496)

OLPC - kids education. Classmate - older kids education. Eee - web browsing and IM

RM, who have had a pretty strong hold on the UK education market since the demise of Acorn, are pushing Eee. [rm.com]

Re:comming up next on slashdot.. (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628024)

This is very true. I recently got to play with an OLPC and was really blown away by what it was compared to what the online consensus of people who have never touched out.

Its a simple education toy that only looks like a laptop. Its more of a specialized educational gadget like a speak and spell than a Dell. Its keyboard is tiny and only for little kid fingers. Its slow and has a very simplified interface. It cant do WPA and has no ethernet port. Its screen is like a very cheap version of e-ink.

I dont see what this has in common with the eeepc. The eeepc is a ulw general purpose laptop. The XO is an educational device for children.

I own two of these... (4, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626402)

...and Eee & an XO. I would have to agree that the Eee is a better system in general, but the screen is small. My 13 y/o daughter uses it with an external monitor when she is at her desk. My 7 y/o son has the XO and likes it a lot, however he complains that he cannot print anything (CUPS printing is not integrated in the interface). One thing I really like about the XO is the ease of adding new applications. Getting new apps to appear in the Eee's 'easy mode' is a headache at best. But the included suite is hard to beat. The touchpad on the XO is useless as its' sensitivity seems to be set way too high. But it found my wireless USB mouse without a problem. I think both systems are well suited to their respective target audiences.

Re:I own two of these... (3, Informative)

Urger (817972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626768)

Easy Mode is the big problem with the Eee. I ripped the original OS out of there out of immediately and switched over to Ubuntu and later to eeeXubunto [eeeuser.com] and have never looked back. As to the screen on the Eee. It's small. I wish it was a bit bigger but at the price the Eee is available at I'm more then happy to put up with it.... At least until there is a cheaper one with a bigger screen.

Re:I own two of these... (1)

RedHelix (882676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627570)

Easy mode on the Eee is pretty lousy, but it can be circumvented into full desktop mode pretty easily by installing, like, two packages from Asus's own repository. I run a KDE interface on it with Beryl installed and it looks and works like a champ.

Re:I own two of these... (1)

NeilTheStupidHead (963719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626848)

I also own an Eee and despite it's problems (including the installation issues you mentioned and the poor (IMO) design/placement of the right shift), I think it's a great little machine and I've been very happy with it as a light-weight travel companion. I've grabbed a couple MMC cards for storage of videos, photos, music and e-books to supplement the limited storage space.

eeeuser.com (1)

Count_Froggy (781541) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627984)

I agree adding apps to the eee delivered 'easy' mode is more difficult than it ought to be. But remember, Asus thought they were including all the apps their target audience would need. Not the first company to be wrong and it won't be the last to make this mistake! A suggestion for you, if you haven't found it yourself:

http://eeeuser.com/ [eeeuser.com]
There are forums, a wiki, and a large body of developers with solutions to many problems. For example, there is a developer with a set of Launcher tools that makes it much easier to add apps to the 'easy' mode.
I agree, different target audiences; different compromises made.

Battery life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626424)

If I had an OLPC, I could run all day without having to plug into the AC mains. Admittedly, I might have to crank or something but I wouldn't have to find a place to plug in.

In many ways the OLPC is more high tech than the others. One thing that impresses me is that it has two antennas. The technical term is 'space diversity of antennas' and it really works. I want one.

Re:Battery life (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626560)

I thought all laptops had two antennas, at least my Thinkpad X40 from 2004 has. Just that you can't see them because they are hidden in the plastics next to the screen.

With an XO and having played with a ClassMate... (5, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626514)

The classmate is a joke. The only thing the Classmate buys is a faster processor, a real keyboard, and 2x the Flash. For 50%-100% more cash.

In return, it is not as rugged (cooling fan and open interior, LiIon batteries, electrolytics, conventional hinge, clunky insecure closure, thick), nor as cheap, nor as useful (sunlight readable display), nor as appropriate for the 3rd world (a >50W power supply!?!).

Also, Windows doesn't understand how to use the Classmate's screen, either having it scroll up and down or squashing the display to fit.

I'd want Windows on the XO, with Windows understanding the screen resolution. THAT would be a nice combination, as Sugar is an abomination all to itself.

Re:With an XO and having played with a ClassMate.. (2, Funny)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626758)

As someone stated earlier : you can install xubuntu (for example) on the XO ... It would save you the trouble of replaceing one "abomination" with another more expensive and slower one. ;)

Posting from my EEE PC... (2, Interesting)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626564)

I slapped XP on the thing and upgraded the ram to 2 gigs. The SD card slot has a nice 16 gig card in it with Doom, Doom 2, Quake, Quake 2, and Quake 3 installed. I run them at the low end resolution mode which fits fine on this screen.

Oh wait, this is about educational use?? Uh... yeah I take my EEE PC to meetings and if I had this during college I'd have loved it for note taking. It's a sound educational tool that works great with my campus's wired and wireless access points.

Re:Posting from my EEE PC... (0)

aurispector (530273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626760)

I was drooling over the eee until I read about the cloudbook. Both machines have issues, but the cloudbook has a regular, easy to upgrade hdd whereas the eee requires hacking skills to graft in more storage. The eee is too limited in terms of storage, although with a little effort it could look a lot like the cool mini laptop used in the "hitman" games.

Re:Posting from my EEE PC... (2, Funny)

2short (466733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626852)

Yeah, sliding a card into the SD slot on the side of the thing is pretty tough. That really takes some takes some seriously leet skilz.

Re:Posting from my EEE PC... (0, Troll)

aurispector (530273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627036)

go compare prices on an 80gb 2.5" hdd and a comparable flash card..oops, sorry they don't exist yet.

Get back to me when you have a clue.

Re:Posting from my EEE PC... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626878)

Yes, because inserting a 16GB SDHC memory card into the card slot on the Eee is really complicated.

EEE wins easily in schools (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22626572)

It's the easiest to pronounce. Duh!

Article is worthless (4, Informative)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626638)

Here are my impressions, which are also worthless:
The eee certainly is stylish. I really like the hardware hacking you can do with it. I don't like the screen, though--not that it is too small physically, but that the resolution is so low, that text on the screen has to be larger in order to read it, which makes the screen effectively too small. Does that make sense?

My OLPC I really like, though again nothing is perfect. The hardware is top notch (though I have read of keyboard failures, that could happen to any manufacturer). The screen is great, I can read it in bright sunlight, I can flip it around and use it as an "ebook reader"--mostly to read pdf documentation for other software I use. I don't need to read that in direct sunlight, though.

One can't really complain about keyboards designed for children, but both the OLPC's keyboard and the eee (designed for adults) are about the same physical size, which means I can't touch type on either, but the fact that the keys are physically smaller on the OLPC, with a large gap between keys makes the occasional two-key press on the OLPC much less frequent than an eee.

One thing I really HATE, though, about the OLPC is that crappy sugarUI, and the whole activity vs. application paradigm. I also can't stand that file system hierarchies are ignored, and everything is collapsed to a single flat directory. How do I then save things to the correct subdirectory on my usb drive?

There are guides available to boot OLPC into ubuntu, for instance, but so far I've been too lazy to do so, especially since I have other options as far as hardware goes.

Classmate? meh, don't know, don't care. The few online reviews I have seen have not been flattering. The one plus, it doesn't have the sugarUI. The downside? Windows.

My wishlist for an UMPC would be: an OLPC, only slightly wider so it can acomodate a keyboard just large enough for me to touch-type, with ubuntu preloaded. If they make the next-gen eee an inch or so wider for the same reason, only with a decent screen (even if it is not as good as OLPC's) then I would settle for that.

Re:Article is worthless (2, Informative)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627264)

One thing I really HATE, though, about the OLPC is that crappy sugarUI

When I got to play with an OLPC, the thing that I couldnt' get past was the quality of the keyboard. It's nearly impossible to use for normal tasks; the keys are like soft telephone buttons and require a press rather than a tap. I would hate to use it for any kind of typing or development. Another poster mentioned that you can ssh into it to install software which really seems like the optimal choice. Of course, the SugarUI really isn't designed for a standard linux user and it can be changed (to xfce, for instance), which probably would solve your issue with it.

Software issues aren't a huge deal, especially if they can be fixed via settings changes or any kind of hack. When the hardware itself (shitty display or keyboard or lack or ports) is an issue, the you have a problem. Complaints about the GUI or default installed applications are an easy problem to remedy.

The eeePC's keyboard is also small, but it's usable. I played with my cousin's and found that although the keyboard and screen were both on the small side, it was still a perfectly usable machine for being ultra-mobile and is far more usable than my cell phone (AT&T Tilt) for real work.

My primary likes with the eeePC are the size, weight, and specs for the package. Another notch in the unusably small direction and the machine would be garbage to me, but I think it juuust makes it... although another half inch wider to accommodate a larger keyboard and maybe a larger LCD would have been spectacular.

Economically it's a 4-5 year old laptop (3, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22626806)

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.

Re:Economically it's a 4-5 year old laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22627100)

Just make sure you don't spill coffee on it...and keep your power charger handy at all times. The XO can run for hours on one charge. An old laptop? 5 minutes, if you don't use it.

Re:Economically it's a 4-5 year old laptop (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627670)

Those are actually fairly minor engineering tweaks. Any cash register in America has a water resistant keyboard I bet. And those are designed for people who can barely read. I have a rollup rubber keyboard around here. I bet it costs $8-10 to make, tops. As far as the power is concerned, what of it? A 6-cell LION should work at least 90 minutes. By throttling the system down aggressively you could stretch that to several hours. The reason most people hate battery life is because of the performance they demand out of the machine. Temper that a bit, use C7 processors, etc and you have a very power miserly machine.

Look the point is this, in order to come up with a cheap durable functional laptop you really don't have to reinvent it. Seriously, how expensive would it be to retrofit a foam shell around your laptop to make it more bump resistant? $7. You don't need a specially designed machine that's as closed down and limited as a cell phone either.

The EEE is a commercial product which means they're trying to maximize their margin on it, however small that is. That means that compared to a XO type machine which is not intended to make money, the EEE either has self limited functions and capabilities or it costs slightly more than it should. This is really what doomed the OLPC project from the start - this need to create some kind of revolutionary leap forward when none is needed. You could have spent the money creating a foundation to gather up old laptops, refurbing them, applying whatever cost effective field tweaks you could and sending them back out. Is it perfect? No. But it could have been running for a year already. And guess what, even when I drop a laptop it's still broken. Misuse happens and resilience is not guaranteed.

Re:Economically it's a 4-5 year old laptop (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627192)

Any of those 4-5 year old laptops as small and as rugged as the eee or the OLPC? No? Thanks for playing.

Re:Economically it's a 4-5 year old laptop (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627540)

No but ruggedness shouldn't be a key driver in the decision process. Why? Because you don't actually know what those requirements look like. For every 7 year old who drops a laptop there's probably some third world kid who's going to drop it in the river or have to wrestle it away from a dingo or something. In other words, rugged is as rugged does.

Re:Economically it's a 4-5 year old laptop (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627608)

I disagree...and in fact the OLPC is designed with easily user-replacable parts. I doubt you could show me a 4-5 year old laptop that a 10 year old could fix by themselves.

Re:No, it's not a 4-5 year old laptop (1)

ubuwalker31 (1009137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627692)

A 5yr old laptop is not comparable. My Eee is a snappy device, and all of the components, including the battery, look and work like new.

The processor is a 900Mhz underclocked Celeron M ULV 353 made in late 2004. So, thats 3+ year old tech...not to mention 512 of RAM and a solid state hard drive and a modern linux OS with great hardware support for wireless, etc.

The Asus that I am working on now is light and portable and small, something that did not exist 5 years ago. Even my fiancee can use it out of the box. It easily fits into her pocketbook, or into my already overstuffed briefcase.

Plus, the styling is sleek and modern, and gets ooos and aaas from geeks and Mac fanboys alike.

XO Won That Hands Down (1)

immcintosh (1089551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627216)

I've been reserving judgment against Intel in its battle against the XO, but after looking at that, it really seems that Intel is just using its market power to shove a pretty inferior product down people's throats. I mean, if I were going to spend money on one of those right now, I'd definitely go for the XO--it just seems cool. The Classmate just looks like a bulky XP box that brings nothing interesting to the table, and the Eee really isn't targeted at the same market anyway as I understand. Bias? Maybe, but it seems pretty clear to me which one had the most thought go into the design.

EeePC - Great for remote linux use (1)

TiberSeptm (889423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627296)

I was extremely skeptical about the usefulness of the EeePC until I got the change to use one for a day. I played around with the cheapest one, the 2G surf, and was surprised to find out that it was a lot more than some simple toy computer. If I were a more experienced Linux user, then this would not have been a surprise to me. While the EeePC performs its basic built in tasks acceptably and serves as a nicely-light email and web browsing machine (amazingly actually able to handle hulu streams), it was in playing with its command line that I began to realize its potential. Using the command line I was able to SSH into our university's engineering servers and remotely run programs like maple, matlab, and the gimp. Our nearly-ubiquitous and extremely robust wireless network combined with having access to our campus's "virtual computing lab" made for better performance than I get on my $1500 laptop. While the performance won't be nearly as good for my home linux machine, the EeePC will be the computer I have on me at campus from now on. With the virtual computing lab here it's like having a remote controlled dual xeon work station for only 300 bucks.

I love my EeePC (1)

dskoll (99328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627338)

I have not seen the OLPC, but I love my EeePC.

It starts up and shuts down incredibly quickly. Everything "just works". I can run all my important tools like OpenSSH, OpenVPN, privoxy, etc. without any hassles. And Xandros did a pretty good job with the interface (though I tend to live in a terminal most of the time anyway.)

And 920g is so light I take it with me everywhere; I sometimes forget it's in my briefcase.

I've used the EeePC & OLPC (4, Interesting)

SalesEngineer (640818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627588)

I put this comparison up weeks ago, mostly for friends who were debating which one to purchase ... http://siliconchef.com/2008/01/31/subnotebook-gladiators-part-2/ [siliconchef.com] Overall I think the EeePC is the more flexible unit for the typical computer user. The OLPC has some great features and concepts, but casual use is limited by design features that make it great for the 3rd world market.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?