Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

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!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Give One Get One Redux, OLPC XO-1 Now On Amazon

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the because-you-can dept.

Portables 168

404 Clue Not Found writes "The One Laptop Per Child project's XO-1 laptop is once again available to the general public via its Give One Get One promotion, where $400 will buy two laptops, one for the purchaser and one for 'a child in the emerging world.' Having learned from their delivery and fulfillment headaches the first time around, this time they partnered with Amazon.com to handle shipping. But a year after its initial release, the market has become saturated with Eee-wannabe netbooks from every major manufacturer. Can the XO-1's charitable appeal, unique chassis and dual-mode screen compete with the superior performance and standard operating systems of its newer peers?"

cancel ×

168 comments

Errr No... (0)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25788885)

Of course it can't compete, the question is whether you want to make a charitable donation and get a lower quality machine, or make a decent contribution to a charity and get a decent machine.

OLPC is a reasonable charity, but personally I'll get a netbook and put the money towards research on malaria.

You can do this with an EeePC too (4, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789339)

You are not limited to donating to OLPC through their GOGO deal.

Buy yourself an EeePC through regular channels and send a donation cheque/check to OLPC.

Or just send them a cheque...

Re:Errr No... (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789637)

Maybe if you donate a laptop, the kids getting the XOs will figure out how to cluster them and model more than just a malaria cure.

Re:Errr No... (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790019)

Maybe if you donate a laptop, the kids getting the XOs will figure out how to cluster them and model more than just a malaria cure.

And perhaps the person who would have discovered how to stop malaria for good dies of malaria, due to lack of medicines now.

Speculation like this doesn't do much good. I can only make a decision for myself, but I prefer to make a donation to a cause where there is a measurable benefit, and not a for profit [texyt.com] scheme that hasn't been able to show any benefits for the recipients so far, except burdening them with support expenses they can ill afford.

Re:Errr No... (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790323)

Maybe if you donate a laptop, the kids getting the XOs will figure out how to cluster them and model more than just a malaria cure.

And perhaps the person who would have discovered how to stop malaria for good dies of malaria, due to lack of medicines now.

Huh? What? Where did anyone suggest diverting medicine dollars to make OLPCs? I've never heard of such a thing.

Speculation like this doesn't do much good. I can only make a decision for myself, but I prefer to make a donation to a cause where there is a measurable benefit, and not a for profit [texyt.com] scheme that hasn't been able to show any benefits for the recipients so far, except burdening them with support expenses they can ill afford.

Hmmm, I haven't incurred any support expenses on my kids OLPC. My 11-year-old bricked his but he used his sister's and an old camera memory card to fix it himself.

All that being said, you should spend your money on the things you want to accomplish, and nobody else has any right to dictate those things to you. Good for you, for caring about where your donations go!

Re:Errr No... (1)

despe666 (802244) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790485)

Hmmm, I haven't incurred any support expenses on my kids OLPC. My 11-year-old bricked his but he used his sister's and an old camera memory card to fix it himself.

If he fixed it himself it wasn't bricked.

Re:Errr No... (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791491)

After he attempted (and failed) to run an X86 OS on it, the XO-1 had all the computing capabilities of a brick. Therefore the other children referred to it as "bricked".

Young people often use words in ways that older people do not, I have noticed. I shall endeavor to use less ambiguous language in the future.

He fixed it without adult assistance.

Re:Errr No... (1)

despe666 (802244) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791697)

If I follow your reasoning, when I pull the power plug from my computer, it becomes bricked because it also has the computational capabilities of a brick at that moment?

Ummm. Yes. (1)

DannyO152 (544940) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790561)

Of course it can compete. It's something that targets a partly intersecting market and utilizes different soft technologies. I'd worry a lot more about someone who is arrriving with their new line of $400 Windows machines.

No. (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25788913)

Maybe Amazon should have been involved last year guys.

Oh, GREAT timing there. (3, Funny)

glindsey (73730) | more than 5 years ago | (#25788939)

Last year I couldn't afford to do this despite the good economy.

This year I can't afford to do this due to the lousy economy.

Maybe next year.

Re:Oh, GREAT timing there. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789347)

Don't fret. In two month, President Obama will relieve you from the burden of having to remember to "donate" to "charity".

It doesn't matter if it can't compete with an Eee. (5, Insightful)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 5 years ago | (#25788989)

If you want to donate a PC you can always just buy a single PC for $199 and not bother with getting one for yourself.

They never wanted to make a machine that can compete with the other laptops. They wanted to make one that'd be good for kids in a 3rd world countries. Not one that'd be great in your living room. The only reason to get one has always been the uniqueness of it, not it's specs.

Re:It doesn't matter if it can't compete with an E (5, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789753)

Not one that'd be great in your living room. The only reason to get one has always been the uniqueness of it, not it's specs.

Its specs make it attractive not for the living room, but for the camp site. I took mine to Starwood [rosencomet.com] and Free Spirit Gathering [freespiritgathering.org] and Playa Del Fuego [playadelfuego.org] , and it was great - easy to recharge off of a 12 volt battery, capable of picking up wifi from one campground's office, resistant to the elements. Hooked it up to my cell phone as a modem, and I could handle any work emergencies that popped up.

For some of us who want a simple, rugged, portable box, it fits the bill nicely. Load XFCE on it rather than (shudder) Sugar, though.

Mesh networking as standard (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790693)

Killer app.

Slow, but better than standalone.

If it came in a reasonable colour I'd have one.
 

Give one? (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#25788995)

How many pads of paper, pencils and books does $199 get? Maybe be of more use than a computer?

Re:Give one? (3, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789131)

Paper and pencils are one thing. Books are an entirely different beast.

Sure, you could get a lot of physical supplies for the cost of an XO and in that light it isn't a good deal.

The number of e-books and online information the xo can access versus dead tree books is the kicker. Size and weight matter for shipping, transport and delivery. A collection of bits is a lot easier to move around and copy than ink on paper.

Some books should be free (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789583)

Plenty of books on entry level courses of Algebra, English, Physics, etc. that should be free because their copyright should have expired. How much has changed with basic algebra over the past 50 years that we need to pay a publisher $50+ every year for an updated text?

I think your argument is more for instead of giving a laptop to every child, to just give a high quality, internet enabled laser printer to every teacher. I think we could pay for the toner for all the books they will print cheaper than we can replace/repair broken/stolen/lost laptops. Size and weight is not an issue because you only have to carry one chapter for every subject you're taking, stuff it into a 3-ring binder and trade them in for the next chapter as you progress through the school year.

Re:Give one? (3, Interesting)

AoT (107216) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789171)

And how many pads of paper, pencils and books does it take to download up to date information from the internet?

This way the children in question aren't stuck with crappy out-of-date textbooks three, four, however many years down the line.

Re:Give one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789671)

Up to date information from the internet? Like the Gutenberg project? I looked at it yesterday and perused the top 100 downloads. Like #13 in the last 7 days "Sex, by Henry Stanton" where it proclaims that masturbation is "self abuse" and causes epilepsy. Nice. Love that up to date information from the internet. (oh, it was published in 1922, which is why it is now "free"). I would imagine there must be something worthwhile on Gutenberg - but all of what I was finding was really old junk.

I think I would rather the kids get some 3 year old textbooks.

Re:Give one? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790467)

..."Sex, by Henry Stanton" where it proclaims that masturbation is "self abuse" and causes epilepsy. Nice. Love that up to date information from the internet.

What, it's not? It doesn't?

Hold my calls for the rest of the day.

Re:Give one? (3, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789245)

Paper and pencils - a whole lot of both.

Books - now there's the clincher. With a internet-enabled XO (or any other computer), you can theoretically access any and all knowledge that's out there, including a whole lot of books (textbooks or other kinds). Now, if you had $199 to spend, could you buy enough books to give you the same variety of knowledge? Could you carry it with you as easily?

Ok, maybe you and your neighbor in the next hut get together - you buy some books, and he buys some others, and now you have access to both collections. But what if, one day you are interested in 19th century literature, and the next day introductory computer programming? Shall we ask a third neighbor to step in? What if you want to know what the latest commodity prices are, to figure out whether to sell your crop now or hold it for another week - what printed book would tell you that? Do you have access to today's newspaper in your village? Now, $199 dollars doesn't seem to go as far.

Scale it up to an entire country, where millions of dollars are available, and you can have a pretty good library that captures a good portion of human knowledge in books. But, now you have the problem of distribution - everyone from around the country has to come and get the books. There's also the problem that you only have or two copies of everything, so only one or two people at a time can access it.

Re:Give one? (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789815)

"you can theoretically access any and all knowledge that's out there, including a whole lot of books (textbooks or other kinds)."

If you have internet access. and if those books are not protected and kept away from evil you for not buying them.

Finally, IF those books are in the language you can read.

using the magical, Billions and billions of books, are in fact not a reality for a third world kid sitting on a dirt floor 1200 miles away from the nearest starbucks and free wifi.

Re:Give one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790965)

No, but even in poor countries (we're not talking starving and living on crackers poor, but we can feed ourselves but have no solid workforce countries), WiFi is not that hard to find. The OLPC was specifically designed so that if one of the machines could find a solid internet connection, it would act as a relay, and mesh connect all of the rest of the machines in the vicinity.

Suddenly, billions of books are available to you, a hundred miles down the road, thanks to the 50 other OLPC users between you and the nearest big city.

On the other hand, the one problem with the internet has always been bandwidth, and not having enough of it. But as we all know, a Volkswagon filled with terabyte drives is more bandwidth than any available internet connection. Suddenly you're carting around Libraries the size of the Library of Congress or larger around to towns in the back of a pickup truck. The kids come out, get what they want, and don't have to worry about what's available or if there's an internet connection.

So yeah, there's always a trade off. Books don't require energy but are not self illuminating. Computers can store thousands of times the amount of data, but require energy. The idea is to lessen the trade off by making both available to the people, especially the kids who will grow up to shape the next generation in their countries.

Re:Give one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791019)

As a ham radio operator what you talk about is simply a pipe dream. I know how "connected" the USA is and most countries the OLPC is targeted for makes us look like the Jetsons.

There is in fact a ZERO chance that all 50 olpc's will be on and ready to transfer data for that user.

It's a pipe dream that in reality even when you have Radio experts running a system... it barely works.

Re:Give one? (2, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791289)

mailing a 10 gig usb stick with 6000 pdfs on is though.

Re:Give one? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789513)

Can a teacher communicate with an illiterate parent that lives 90 minutes away by bus, and works 14 hours a day, so there child can go to school instead of working themselves with a pad of paper and pens?

Because this is one of the many problems the XO was designed to fix. It is the primary purpose for the camera, and why getting the camera was so important.

Additionally I am curious what it cost's to ship a ton of books to a remote area, vs 100 laptops. $100Laptops + internet access (or even CDs and mail to the school)+ Free e-books should pay for themselves fairly quickly.

Re:Give one? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789635)

I meant $200, and still think it holds.

Re:Give one? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789559)

For that matter, how many third-world children can you get for $199? These bobbins aren't going to thread themselves.

Re:Give one? (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789855)

I hear this a lot in the US. Why buy computers when we can use paper and pencil cheaper. Why use calculators when pencil and paper calculation are superior.

The issue is access

How many of us would have jobs if we were not computer literate, and how many of us started our computer literacy before we reached out teens years? Be it a teletype, a dumb terminal, or a microcomputer, how many of us were able to do significant things with computer because we had years to play with them? How would our lives be different if people had thought 'they are just playing with computers' and 'it isn't worth paying for such technology.' For myself, I grew up with seven segments displays, so I know how they work.

Like a tuppence for paper and string, a small amount for a computer and an occasional internet access can open up a world. Sure some will sell the machine. Most will just play games. But many will use it to learn. Download GIMP and draw. Download Maxima and calculate. Download qucs and build circuits. Download eclipse and program. Download novels and read. Download LaTex and write. Sure most of this can be done with paper and pencil, but where are the transferrable skills?

I am clearly talking about the above average student, but, talking to people from developing countries, these are the students that attend and succeed in many of the village schools. I can't imagine these students not using the tools to help them succeed. From the stories I hear they do not destroy books as first world students do. They do not throw away food knowing the government will supply them with more. And overall, they are not forced to waste their time at school sleeping when a field needs plowing.

Re:Give one? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790035)

How long does $199 worth of paper and pencils last? How many times can you use it?

Re:Give one? (5, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790907)

How many pads of paper, pencils and books does $199 get? Maybe be of more use than a computer?

False equivalency. You can't video conference with a pencil. Or make (decent) music with a piece of paper. The OLPC's capacity for re-use is also somewhat superior.

I live and work in the South Pacific. Let me assure you that, while paper and pencils are in short supply, it's mostly because paper doesn't last very long in any useful state in a tropical climate.

The OLPC, on the other hand, is standing up quite well to the elements in the pilot project we're running here.

OLPC invented the netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789003)

Heh, they spent all those years designing and getting the OLPC machines out there and almost immediately after, all the big manufacturers jump into the netbook pool and do it one step better in relatively no time at all (compared to how long it took for any OLPC machine to reach market). If they could have convinced a big manufacturer to do this in the first place they could have saved a lot of time and effort. More kids would have machines in their hands now too.

Re:OLPC invented the netbook (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791949)

If they could have convinced a big manufacturer to do this in the first place they could have saved a lot of time and effort.

They did go to the "big manufacturer" for the display tech and OEM manufacturing. The problem is that none of the technical innovations of the OLPC remain exclusive to the OLPC. The problem is that sales and distribution outside of Uruguay, Colombia and Peru has been unimpressive - a less charitable word would be "negligible."

Summary of laptop orders [wikipedia.org]

If they just sold the thing for $200... (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789005)

If they just sold the thing for $200, they might get enough volume to get down to the $100 laptop.

The real problem with the OLPC, though, is that it's now a 3 year old design. The OLPC is being overtaken by commercial products.

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (2, Insightful)

crush (19364) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789149)

Really? There's something out there with the same LCD technology and an OS written specifically for the hardware by Red Hat in order to maximize battery life? What's it called?

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789577)

Except the battery life isn't very good, and the screen sucks to look at for any length of time.

I have one. Haven't touched it in nine months. Its an interesting (if overpriced) toy.

The GP is absolutely right -- the gimmicks with it aren't really all that compelling to 99% of the people who would possibly spend $200 (or $400) for one, and in every other way there are far better products on the market now.

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789835)

If you haven't touched it in 9 months, then try upgrading to Release 8.2 [laptop.org] and enabling the automatic power management [laptop.org] (via homeview->control panel->power).

They've made some other usability strides in past 9 months too - Firefox3 is in the G1G1 activities set, and the activities have an auto updater.

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (2, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789877)

The LCD in a normal room-lit situation with backlight on isn't really all that pretty, the resolution is ok, but its heavily depended on the viewing angle, which can annoy quite a bit, due to the pixel layout it also has a diagonal grid all over it, which can irritate. In sunlight its a different thing of course, resolution is great and its very readable, not quite ePaper-like, but close enough, the viewing angle problem and the diagonal grid disappear when not backlit.

The OS on the other side isn't really all that great. The basic concepts are overall nice, but its still far from unfinished and feels like an early beta more then a finished product. It also lacks support for almost anything that you would expect from a "normal OS", you don't even have a normal file system unless you go to the Terminal and bypass all the UI. Its also not very fast and the battery life is rather crappy, you get 3 hours out of it and thats it. The hardware does have some interesting power saving features which might help with that a bit in the future, but its still not finished and was disabled by default the last time I checked. The software still isn't quite up to all the cool features that you heard in talks two years ago.

All that said, its still a great little machine, but $400 its quite a bit of money and you can get better hardware for that.

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (2, Informative)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789903)

There's something out there with the same LCD technology

Not that I'm aware of, although former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen has been planning to commercialize the LCD technology she developed.

And it's worth pointing out that it's not so much that the display has amazing quality, but rather that the display has amazing quality given the low manufacturing cost -- in backlit mode, i.e. all the time except in direct sunlight, the XO-1's 1200x900 (sub)pixel display is noticeably more artifacty than a similarly-sized 800x600 conventional display.

and an OS written specifically for the hardware by Red Hat

Saywhat? OLPC machines (at least those not burdened with Windows) run a nearly-stock Fedora Linux kernel. The GUI, Sugar, is essentially an alternative to Gnome/KDE and was written (in Python?!?!) by OLPC project team members, who may or may not have day jobs with Red Hat.

in order to maximize battery life?

While the hardware potential for extreme battery life exists in the XO-1 hardware, firmware/software support has lagged. I've updated to the latest stable release, and I can still only get a few hours of active use out of a battery charge.

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789613)

Your XBOX 360 is 3 years old too. Does that mean its no good anymore? The real uniqueness in the OLPC is its extremely tight integration with hardware. A screen that can be read in full sun as black and white, and a system that recharges with the sun, or a small handcrank? The ad-hoc networking alone is quite ahead of its time.

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789757)

Your XBOX 360 is 3 years old too. Does that mean its no good anymore?

The GP poster's point is that there are alternatives (maybe even better alternatives depending on your point of view, but that's debatable) to the OLPC.

There is no newer alternative to the XBOX 360 (arguments of the relative merits of the 360, PS3 and Wii aside).

Re:If they just sold the thing for $200... (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790479)

The hand crank doesn't exist in real life XO models. It was marketed so successfully that most everyone thinks it's a standard feature, and the few that don't, erroneously believe it's available for areas where there is no electricity.
Not so.

And, sure, you can buy a solar panel with a regulated 12V output to charge it with. It will only set you back around $1000 or so.

In reality, you're bound to the measly 3 hour battery life, and then have to plug it into the wall to charge it. Meaning you have to be well off enough to have electricity.
And free book reading? Sure, if you have internet access, and can read and type English. The dirt poor 3rd world kids it was marketed for won't get this benefit.

the problem was fraud, not shipping (5, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789021)

Having learned from their delivery and fulfillment headaches the first time around, this time they partnered with Amazon.com to handle shipping.

You mean the cases like one of my clients, who ordered two, and received none?

When he called and asked WTF was going on, they couldn't "find" his order, and refused to refund his credit card, despite proof they'd charged him. He ended up having to do a chargeback.

If OLPC couldn't ship 'em to donors, what makes anyone think they're shipping them to kids in the '2nd world'?

Re:the problem was fraud, not shipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789823)

I'm sorry your friend had to do a chargeback. That's a pain in the ass, and a sign of an ill-conceived customer-care system.

That said. I ordered two, got two and kept track of the deployments overseas, which have been pleasantly successful, if not earthshaking.

The fact is they were never really set up for commercial sales to individuals, and that's quite different than selling crateloads of them to various governments.

Re:the problem was fraud, not shipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789955)

Just to clarify, "2nd world" are (were) Warsaw pact countries.

Re:the problem was fraud, not shipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791799)

'2nd world' refers to the now defunct Soviets.

Plenty of Room (2, Insightful)

AskFirefly (757114) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789061)

"Can the XO-1's charitable appeal, unique chassis and dual-mode screen compete with the superior performance and standard operating systems of its newer peers?" Would there be Eee wanabees without the XO? The world is a big place, and products (hopefully) evolve with demand. XO is still a good idea and has served a useful purpose. I'm sure that if someone wants to send a competitor oversees to an underprivileged child, that's ok, too.

Keyboard (5, Informative)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789065)

The number 1 problem with the XO-1 is the keyboard. The machine just wasn't made to fit adult hands. For a child, I'm sure everything is perfect, but don't expect to do any large amount of work on it without an external keyboard, which kind of defeats the purpose.

Other than that it's a perfectly comparable to other sub-notebooks. Obviously twice the price of what it should be, but it's extremely light and rugged. It's the ideal machine for anyone wanting to run linux, since the entire machine is completely open, including the BIOS. The dual-mode screen could really be useful for if you want to work outside one day, which is pretty much impossible with my T60.

... is perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789631)

I would like to race you -- I'll type on the XO, you type on whatever keyboard you want.

Tell me when to go.

http://www.typeracer.com

Re:Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791343)

I think it defeats the purpose for an adult to use a product specifically designed for children.

Two $99 costs £275 plus shipping. (1)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789087)

I don't get it. A laptop that costs $99 each is selling for £275 for two (or £135.50 each) at Amazon, so you would think the extra cost was for shipping, nope, that will be another £50.

£325 in total then.

Re:Two $99 costs £275 plus shipping. (1)

wild_quinine (998562) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789147)

I don't get it. A laptop that costs $99 each is selling for £275 for two (or £135.50 each) at Amazon, so you would think the extra cost was for shipping, nope, that will be another £50. £325 in total then.

The BBCs reporting on this has not been impressive, failing to mention the shipping cost at all and glossing over the expense of this 100 dollar laptop.

Here's the story [bbc.co.uk]

So 325, eh? That's a grand total of nearly 500 dollars for the 100 dollar laptop. Oh, yeah, sorry - two of them. Where do I sign up?

Re:Two $99 costs £275 plus shipping. (1)

jfeldredge (1008563) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789435)

The original goal was to produce the laptops for $100 each, but they never succeeded in getting the price below $200 each. Despite this, the "$100 laptop" name has stuck.

Re:Two $99 costs £275 plus shipping. (1)

foxharp (1048608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789361)

where do you get "costs $99 each"? the cost is $200 each.

Culture shock. (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789105)

In a word, No.

People are charitable in small ways; A few dollars to a beggar. Copies of Windows XP for libraries. Buying a friend who's broke lunch. That kind of thing. But would you, say, pay 20% more at Best Buy to send a second iPod to a poor starving child in Africa? No. You'd go across the street to Super Electrono Mart and buy it there without the "charity tariff", and maybe use the extra money to buy that broke friend of yours some Burger King. You know, if you were feeling charitable. -_-

Charity isn't a selling point. Cost, reliability, performance -- those are selling points. They'll only be in business as long as they can stay ahead of the competition, otherwise the only thing this enterprise will be good for is tax write-offs and guilting government officials. Not to say there isn't money in that too... But it's not a business model that would survive free market forces.

Re:Culture shock. (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789323)

[Charity]'s not a business model that would survive free market forces.

I know. I remember back in the day when these cute girls would come to my door and try to sell overpriced cookies.

Re:Culture shock. (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789595)

> I remember back in the day when these cute girls would come to my door and try to sell overpriced cookies.

I remember back in the day selling cookies to fat, middle-aged men who'd answer wearing nothing but boxers and a stained sports t-shirt while my mother waited impatiently in the car. If you ask me, they didn't charge enough.

Re:Culture shock. (2, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791125)

...boxers and a stained sports t-shirt

Classic casual wear!
Mix and match with tighty whities and a Cheetos
encrusted Hawaiian shirt for a variety of stylish looks.

Re:Culture shock. (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791819)

Charity isn't a selling point. Cost, reliability, performance -- those are selling points.

I think that's an awfully narrow view.

Fundraising for PBS is heavily dependent on charity as a selling point. Matching donations by corporate donors are known to encourage people to "buy" the PBS product. Who'd a thunk it?

Then, you've got any number of corporations who promote their services or products explicitly using charity a selling point. That would probably include all the Fortune 500, along with the likes of Starbucks, Ben and Jerry's, Newman's Own, and Whole Foods who are not only vocal advocates of their respective charities, but actively seek to distinguish themselves by such efforts.

So there you have it. Charity as a valid business model. Before you know it, legions of self-interested and disaffected youth will help vote in a candidate for public office who has the temerity to suggest that public service is a virtue. The paradoxes abound.

Charitable appeal? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789157)

What charitable appeal? It's turned into a vehicle for spreading Microsoft's hegemony.

Re:Charitable appeal? (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789257)

Definitely worth pointing out. I'd like precisely 0 dollars of any charity I partake in to go either straight to MS's coffers, or towards propagating worldwide dependence on their single OS.

OLPC, and the other netbook companies, climbing down and making most stuff XP is slightly sickening.

Re:Charitable appeal? (1)

foxharp (1048608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789267)

this simply isn't true. the vast majority of XO laptops will never see a microsoft OS. only a small percentage will, either because the country doing the deployment has insisted, or because microsoft itself is paying for the deployment.

Don't count on it (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790251)

You cannot guarantee that Microsoft will not come along in the future and grant some sort of "sweetheart" deal and "upgrade" these machines to Windows.

Re:Charitable appeal? (2, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789311)

Microsoft has some of hot air and one pilot project in Peru vs. plenty of XO deployments with Sugar (including the same Peru where main government-backed deployment uses Sugar).

No chance at competeing. (3, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789205)

You know, while this project is truly a great idea and a very noble cause, they're really bogging themselves down with the way it's being marketed.

On one hand it's good that each sale for the OLPC project sells two laptops, but at the same time they're not in any way shape or form selling to the lower-class and even a lot of the middle class demographics that may need it in more developed countries it's being marketed to. Of course you're going to get sales from wealthy individuals, but think about everyone living paycheck to paycheck that probably doesn't have $200 to just blow on some random "toy" for their kid. Even in the middle-class where they may have the money to spend, but not a huge amount extra... are they really going to spend $400 bucks on an OLPC, or are they going to look at an Eee PC at almost half the cost for some models, or the MSI Wind at just a smidgen more?

Plus there is now a plethora of ultra low-power, low-cost, ultra mobile computers on the market. Again, I love the nobility of the project, but I think it's time to open it up to $200 per computer with optional monetary donation towards another computer. I bet with the extra sales made it will get about the same number of donated PC's abroad while keeping the production numbers up and the project alive. After all, there's no help at all without this project so why not do the best to keep it afloat.

Re:No chance at competeing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790175)

CaptainPatent as AC:

Just a quick fix, on the paycheck to paycheck / lower-class point, I meant to say while they [lower-class individuals] may be able to fit in a $200 laptop purchase, they can't necessarily burn another $200 on what is effectively nothing (for them.)

Too little, too late. (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789351)

We have the OLPC to thank for this year's Netbook explosion, as manufacturers discovered that there was a real market for modestly spec'd machines in a tiny form factor. Unfortunately, the OLPC looks lame in comparison. It's a great example of how academic projects have difficulty competing in a commercial environment. And, no matter what idealists might proclaim, any time you get into large-scale manufacturing you are forced to operate in a commercial environment. Producing millions of machines "for academic use" requires the same skills as running a for-profit company. You need a sales staff to convince countries to buy the machines by the millions. You need financing for R&D and production. You need hardware and software engineers, and you need a clear roadmap.

Doing this stuff is tougher in academia, and OLPC was hamstrung by a heavy dose of ideology (we've gotta design really clever custom software, make it cute and bleeding-edge, etc.) that commercial manufacturers could side-step. As a result, the OLPC crew futzed around with a very ambitious software framework. They futzed about endlessly tweaking the hardware design. In comparison, Asus actually built a cheap little machine and threw it into the marketplace as a crude first try. It ignited the imagination of manufacturers and consumers alike. Asus is now on their third generation (I think... I've lost track) of netbooks in a little over a year, and others jumped into the fray as soon as they could get their hands on Intel's Atom processor. There is no way that OLPC could keep up with such an aggressive hardware program. The result is that their once revolutionary device now seems quaint.

Re:Too little, too late. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790027)

... to which I say: working with Amazon for retail distribution is a good idea

You've clearly never seen an XO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790041)

I have an EeePC too, and compared to the XO the EeePC is a pig. It is heavier, has half the autonomy, and a miniscule screen. It has less wifi range too. EeePCs are absent from the market you're talking about anyway - governments. The real problem OLPC has is not that every Tom, Dick & Harry manufacturer woke up to the fact that people are tired of lugging heavy laptops. No, the real problem is that Microsoft is terrified that a generation of children will learn using a non-Microsoft OS. They will do anything to block that, including foisting crappy units like the Classmate on kids.

Re:You've clearly never seen an XO. (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791403)

It is heavier

Its the other way around, the Eee is 0.9kg, while the XO-1 is 1.5kg and that is actually quite heavy when you try to hold the thing in ebook mode for longer periods of time.

$89 laptop (2, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789353)

Spotted on Engadget a few months ago:
$89 laptop [engadget.com]

It is extremely basic, but it is at least interesting to see what is possible at the low-end of the laptop market these days. Looks like it would be fine for very basic wifi browsing (wikipedia etc) email and document creation at least.

I don't really see the... (3, Interesting)

Darundal (891860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789429)

...promotion's sales being hurt by netbooks. It seems to me that the majority of OLPC G1G1 sales are going to be to geeks who buy it as a curiosity more than as a machine they will be using every day, or for their kids because it is able to withstand more abuse than a netbook. The OLPC isn't quite being targeted at the same users that netbooks are, and a lot of the netbook market probably will never hear about the OLPC anyway.

I Got One The Last Time Around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789547)

My mom got me one (and some other kid somewhere one too) and all I can say is that it rocks most awesomely. If I'm hanging out somewhere having a beer, I've got the 'phone jacked into it and I'm listening to MP3s and surfing whatever. It attracts smoking hot curious chicks who need to know what it is - and need to know NOW - like you wouldn't believe. The XO laptop makes that Axe Body Spray crap look like nothing more than a pathetic marketing campaign. Buy two of them to get one, and you will not be disappointed!

Charitable?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789647)

Oh, you mean towards Micro$oft.

anybody want mine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789715)

It just recently crapped out on me, with the power socket not working. Cheep!

Ironically... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789765)

The link to Amazon has as its first picture touting the OLPC being used "From Atse Naod, Nigeria" presumably training tomorrow's scammers.

Where's the apple one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789869)

But a year after its initial release, the market has become saturated with Eee-wannabe netbooks from every major manufacturer.

Where's the Apple Eee-wannabe netbook? I couldn't find it in the Apple store, but I wants it!

Re:Where's the apple one? (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790177)

Well, seeings as where the Eee crowd would now have you thinking that any subnotebook is a Eee-wannabe, even tho Compaq, HP, Sony, Apple and Toshiba (and I think that both IBM and Sharp also had offerings too) beat them to the punch as much as a decade earlier, you're going to have a lot of flamebait of this nature.

While the Eee-PC finally makes sense, with wifi being so widely available and the technology being so dirt cheap, they are far from original. But you're going to have a hard time convincing users around here of that. It's like the iPhone... We've had touchscreen smart phones for a while now but anyone who produces them now is somehow an iPhone rip-off.

C'est la vie

1200 x 900 = Best screen for the size / money (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789905)

Before everyone gripes about how lousy a deal the XO is now that the netbooks are out, remember its screen: 1200x900 is a lot more pixels. Mind you, yes, crammed into a much smaller area so the aging-eyes set won't like it, but this is a great machine to use to remote into a bigger, better box elsewhere - and have a reasonably viewable screen in the process.

I've seen netbooks with 10" screens sporting 1024 x 600. That resolution is, like, so 1998.

I don't think this is a good idea (4, Interesting)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789969)

I'm typing this from Kagando Village, Uganda. I've been touring the local primary and secondary schools here and I can tell you that these children don't need laptops. Forget about the fact that the adults would probably use them instead of the kids if they were brought here. The reason they don't need laptops is because they much more desperately need good textbooks for every year of school. No amount of educational software is going to make up for the fact that the kids don't have good (or usually even enough) textbooks. $200 a kid could EASILY buy every kid here textbooks for every year of their schooling and would be money MUCH better spent. Maybe this isn't the case in other developing countries but here I really don't think that laptops are the answer. It's a nice gimmick and a nice thought but not the right answer.

Re:I don't think this is a good idea (4, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790075)

Just curious... How do you think it would go over if those textbooks were digitized then put on the laptop?

Re:I don't think this is a good idea (2, Interesting)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791999)

Oh, those textbooks are already digitized, believe me. They are typically in Word at least (due to requests by professors and teachers), and then in addition are in something like Quark, Pagemaker, or the

The problem is that the publishers aren't going to want them digiti

Of course, one could always digitize stuff over a hundred years old, for things like language arts and elementary school math.

But it is far more efficient to learn from a book, with a pencil and a piece of paper. As far as I can tell, computer usage shortens the attention span, making learning diffic

oh, and another thing...

Re:I don't think this is a good idea (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790839)

Isnt' the idea of the laptop that even more books then just textbooks can be delivered to the kids via the laptop.

Re:I don't think this is a good idea (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25792041)

Yes, but how do you get them the textbooks?

Re:I don't think this is a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791009)

That is actually the best place for it. By connecting to many free educational sites, the children can have text books for life. See what they are doing south of you in Rwanda and in even more impoverished places.

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791903)

Your post is called "I don't think this is a good idea" but you never say why. You just say some irrelevant stuff about textbooks. We already know that laptops are not the top priority for schools in developing countries; that's pretty much the whole point of OLPC! They're trying to get laptops into the hands of kids who would not otherwise have access to them. I can't see how this would be a bad thing.

Re:I don't think this is a good idea (2, Insightful)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791945)

I appreciate hearing your voice of experience - when theory and data disagree, go with the data.

I'm curious to know your other opinions on this - putting economics aside - I'm wondering if textbooks are less intimidating than a computer in that regime? Our kids have had so much tech for so long, I wonder if this isn't overlooked - and I don't know what it's like to be around non-tech driven kids. I done a LOT of foreign travel, but never to such a technological extreme environment as the one you're describing.

Also - theft / damage / reliability - a single textbook can get munged (I lost or screwed up a few when I was a kid) - and I was out a textbook. If all of one's knowledge resource are on a single device, then isn't that an opportunity for a single-point failure to have multiple consequences?

It's easy to imagine being you in Uganda - but when ImaginationLand is left behind, it's insanely difficult to visualize a place I've never been and experiences I've never had - for me, anyway. Thanks in advance for any further light you may find time to shed on this.

I think that the OLPC folks might say the PC in addition to books - but as Bucky Fuller pointed out, a great many things would change were resources less scarce.

Just what the world needs (1)

2gravey (959785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790063)

Anybody else expect to see a rise in Nigerian Barrister scams?

Donate One, Donate Two (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790255)

I'm considering using the buy one, get one option and then donating the second laptop to a school in my area. I could donate two to third-world countries, but I believe in the "think globally, act locally" mantra. I want kids in my own neighborhood to have access to fun, interesting, educational technology too.

Re:Donate One, Donate Two (1)

ServerIrv (840609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791169)

I really don't want to be negative to rain on your parade, but... Buying one laptop for a school in your area could potentially be useless. The schools "IT Admin" will get it, poke around, and after a while will set it unused in the corner of the library or in their drawer. Instead, if you can get a group of people to buy one for each classroom, the admin could possibly find a use for a group of non-standard PCs. Just because we make a donation, it doesn't mean that they can use it.

I did some work at a non-profit organization, and one-off crazy donations were always the hardest to deal with. Yes, the donating individual got a tax break, but we got extra work. My suggestion, is find a need and help many people see this need as well and fill the need completely. First, ask the school's admin if this would fill a need.

Re:Donate One, Donate Two (1)

GospelHead821 (466923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791729)

I'm a step ahead of you. I emailed their "technology" group this afternoon to see if they could make use of an XO. I'm actually hoping that they tell me that they can't use it. The school district in which I live is pretty well off already. If they can't use it, I'll call one of the less privileged school districts in the area.

You make a good point, though, about finding a way to put more than one laptop in their hands. Even if I can't get enough support together to provide one XO for every classroom, supplying 5-10 would make them good tools for team projects and field trips.

In Guatemala... (2, Insightful)

changos (105425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790649)

I truly believe that here in Guatemala we could benefit from the OLPC. I want to get 2, because the true benefits come from having at least 2. Al the fun about sugar is the neighborhood.

Sure there is need for food, sure there is a need for infrastructure for many things. But being able to see the world, even from a small screen can definitely change your world view.

For me, nothing has shaped me, or my carreer that going abroad and studying in the US. Now I now that there is a better way for government to work. I know that my government has to change, and I have the power to change it. I could bring this knowledge to 1 child, even if it's through a small laptop. I'll do it.

poop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790963)

Who cares it can compete with the Eee or other subnotebooks. If you're buying in because you want one for yourself, you've kinda missed the point of the OLPC.

You buy an XO, you're setting up a child with a laptop, and as a pleasant side effect, getting one yourself as a pat on the back. It's not the othe way around.

Moot points for everyone! (1)

TheRealZero (907390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791007)

Why buy a chocolate bar when I can spend that money on a bag of pure sugar which will last longer? Why buy a car when for that price I can buy multiple horses and put them to work for me? I don't think anyone is going to argue the fact that there are many charity organizations that will use your donation in a wiser manner, like buying food or building an irrigation system. Send your money to those charities by all means. They are numerous. The fact that laptops aren't the number one necessity doesn't automatically negate their worth. Maybe the OLPC laptops won't save anyone's life but I still think it's a noble and interesting idea to introduce these countries to some technology that may help them in other aspects of their lives. If they have a use for them, they'll find it. Whether or not this is the best use of your money is a moot point I think. The company is there, the laptops are made, and if it seems like a good idea to you than donate. If you disagree, give your money to someone else. No one said this was going to save the world, and no one's going to force you to contribute.

Wouldn't do it again... (2, Insightful)

rthille (8526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791037)

Given the 'bait-n-switch' move to Windows, the OLPC program has left a bad taste in my mouth. My OLPC sits unused in a pile of electronics gear that 'one of these days' I'll get around to offing on ebay or craigslist.

I liked the idea of it, I liked the technology of it, I really hate the idea of using it to introduce so much of the developing world to Windows. Can you imagine the issues we'll have with the net once the spam/bots manage to hide in the always-on routing chip of an OLPC?

Hasn't it been hijacked by MS ? (2, Insightful)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791191)

Hasn't it been hijacked by MS ?
The whole point of openness will be undone in the next version and they simply will get a cut down XP so that the best they can do is look for hided excel Easter eggs

Amazon's cut (0, Troll)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791333)

I'm worried about the size of Amazon's cut. They may be getting as much as 40% (their regular rate).

How can Amazon justify the £50.00 Delivery c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791891)

As a percentage of the overall cost it is just plain silly.
Are they going to hand deliver it wrapped in gold?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...