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160 comments

Not a chance.... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802114)

I'm convinced, after looking at the proposed specs and the mock-ups for the that the $165 price-point is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

But... If it does miraculously appear for under $200 and can run Android or some other Linux variant, I'll buy 3 or 4...

Re:Not a chance.... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802234)

The XO 1.0 supposedly cost $188, so $165 isn't surprising. Unless you think they've been lying all along and no OLPC customer has outed them.

Re:Not a chance.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802348)

The actual cost of non-premium hardware is very, very little. For instance the screen in most netbooks only costs about $10-$15, probably less in bulk. The only reason Ipads cost so much is they use under-clocked top of the line CPU's, IPS displays with lots of SSD space and a capacitive touchscreen in an expensive aluminum case. Now if you stick to a cheaper non-IPS display and use a resistive touchscreen and reduce the storage capacity and put it into a cheap plastic case... and you end up with a cheap Android tablet.

Which reminds me Walgreens had a cheap android tablet around x-mas for only $99, there really is very little, if any, difference between a netbook and a tablet besides a physical keyboard. In fact if you read the article they discus how it really is a tablet with the cpu and everything behind the screen, but with a permanent keyboard and battery attached at the bottom. If Walgreens can sell a tablet for $99, they can certainly attach a keyboard and put some sort of manual charging device on it for $65 more.

Re:Not a chance.... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802542)

...The only reason Ipads cost so much is they use under-clocked top of the line CPU's, IPS displays with lots of SSD space and a capacitive touchscreen in an expensive aluminum case...

That, plus they know the average iConsumer will buy pretty much anything they peddle at any price they choose.

Re:Not a chance.... (3, Insightful)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802574)

The only reason Ipads cost so much is they use under-clocked top of the line CPU's, IPS displays with lots of SSD space and a capacitive touchscreen in an expensive aluminum case.

and don't forget the 200% apple tax.

Re:Not a chance.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802630)

You're a fucking moron. Go back to masturbating to your sister's granny panties, your opinion is worthless.

Re:Not a chance.... (2)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803940)

So where are the other 10" touchscreen slates with similar performance and capabilities at half the cost?

Re:Not a chance.... (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804050)

I expect to see the market flooded with such devices in the coming months.

And 200% isn't wrong. Well it is, but there's a grain of truth behind it. I speced out a 15" macbook pro with a regular pc laptop, matching the components as close to identically as I could. The macbook was almost exactly double the price. While I accept that the build quality is much better with the macbook, a 100% markup is kind of a lot.

When I bought my current macbook in 2008, the price differences weren't that much higher... maybe 20-30%. But the current markup is so significant that unless their next refresh is significant (rather than the spec bump they've had the past couple years) I will likely be considering other options.

Re:Not a chance.... (1)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805524)

Sorry quacking duck, but a 200% tax would triple the price. Now that I've bested you in a game of wits, buy my game! (see below).

Re:Not a chance.... (1)

kevorkian (142533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804524)

Ok .. ill feed the troll ..

Next you are going to try and claim a one button mouse ..

An apple tax is a fallacy.

Seriously , go do click around on apple.com and dell.com and see for yourself ...

A 12 core system from dell .. and a 12 core system from apple .. both come out to 5k .. ( with the apple having a better video card and faster memory ) ..

Re:Not a chance.... (1)

Paintballparrot (1504383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804664)

Dell is also notorious for ridiculous mark ups in anything beyond their cheap, low performance, bottom of the line models.

You're comparing Apples to apples.

Re:Not a chance.... (1)

kevorkian (142533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804750)

:-D .. Cute ..

Thats kinda the point ..

Sure the no name PC builder can make you think your getting a deal .. But when you look closer they give you a 100mbit network card ( not gigabit with offloading ) .. Shared memory .. a graphics card from 4 years ago .. and so on ..

But a system from a reputable dealer vs apple comes out very close.

Re:Not a chance.... (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803284)

It'd be cheaper to just buy used laptops off ebay.
An old Windows 98 or XP laptop can be had for less then $50, wiped with a fresh XP Restore CD or Puppy Linux CD (or both), and then given to any poor kid in your neighborhood so they can get online. DSL costs just $15/month.

Re:Not a chance.... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803612)

It'd be cheaper to just buy used laptops off ebay.

It's cheaper to buy one or two used laptops off eBay, not thousands. DSL availability is very poor and in most places it is available only in population centers due to run length limitations. Pacific Bell promised to have DSL available to every customer by 2000 and we know how that worked out.

not where I live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34805180)

A *desktop* from that era, late 98se/early windows XP is fetching a hundred dollars, with 256 megs ram,like pc100 or 133, let alone anything newer, and any similar era laptop is $200 and up. (I don't do ebay or paypal so that is out, I don't like their ethics for one and some other reasons, and I like to actually see and checkout hardware I am buying...) Believe me, if I could have gotten a half way decent laptop good enough for net surfing for 50 bucks near me in the last two years I would have jumped on it. 200 "firm" is the cheapest I have seen at any CL listing or local mom and pop computer store. I don't want a "netbook", but a real laptop, but will just hold out until I can buy a new one online with a warranty from some big name brand place rather than pay outrageous "outside the major urban areas" prices on old junk. As it is, I am milking out my ancient built from parts desktop as it is. Seems like it is no use anymore, unless you upgrade constantly, you can't reuse any of your old stuff anymore, the ram changes, the socket changes, the interfaces change, your cards IO changes, etc, so in essence you need to buy brand new about every two years or so. I *used* to incrementally upgrade, but you really can't do that much today, the "older" stuff that might still work for you is now more expensive than brand new, so there's no point in doing it..I am still running DDR, like pc2100, an AGP vid card, and PATA/eide hard drives and optical drive. Can't upgrade any of that stuff without going to brand new everything anymore, a new machine, so you might as well just buy a new one with a warranty (as much as that is useful..). And forget $15 dollar a month DSL, you can't get dsl or cable here, I had to settle for an (relatively) expensive cellular data plan to have anything better than dialup.

And this isn't way out in south moose droppings alaska or anything, just normal far enough out to be some farms mixed in with subdivisions. We are NEVER going to get the wired internet providers to provide service beyond where they were already at years and years ago, unless mandated by law, like telephones and electric service was in the past. They are more interested in taking their billions and buying up media companies rather than actually upgrading their pipes in areas that are stuck on copper that was run when tesla and westinghouse and edison were still alive.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have a 50 buck laptop and 15 dollar dsl to use with it, but don't assume everyone across the country has those options. There's a gigantic diff betwen heavy right and left coasts and a few major urban areas and *everywhere else* in the US now and internet is just one of the schisms that is growing daily.

  We are really a totally different USA and it feels like we are occupied territory and have to pay for everyone else's cheap stuff, then get put down all the time by those same areas when all we really want is a fair 21st century shake at things.

Re:Not a chance.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802238)

Most $600 cellphones have more functionality than this thing (I was going to say power too, but its new Marvell SoC [marvell.com] is described as having a FLOPS count 2x that of non-Tegra hardware). They also charge quicker (and probably last longer), some have more durable (and improved) screens, they make calls, they have lots more SD space, and they come with an actual operating system (with apps).

This project is doomed. When do we initiate One-Phone-Per-Child or One-Tablet-Per-Child?

Re:Not a chance.... (5, Insightful)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803046)

Most $600 cellphones [...]

Most $600 laptops have more functionality and more power than this thing. That matters exactly fuck-all to people who cannot even afford a $165 laptop on their own. Besides, how would you like doing your homework or reading long texts and watching films on a cell phone? Did you even look up what the OLPC project is about? The kids in the third world do not need an app store, they need a platform that enables them to get used to a machine that magically emits light, shows pretty pictures that can move and make noise, and that allows them to talk to someone outside their range of sight. Ideally one that survives in the desert and uses little power. Which is precisely what the XO was designed from the ground up to be.

Random Question: (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803268)

My laptop only cost $30 plus shipping from ebay. Yeah it's slow (700 megahertz) but it has enough RAM (1/3 gigabyte) to run Firefox and get online. As you said, for most people that's all they care about. A cheap computer that can give them net access... and that's the point of the OLPC project.

RQ:
This OLPC claims it has minimal power consumption. How do customers know, before they buy, how much their new laptop or desktop will use for consumption? Mine desktop uses 110 watts which is a heck of a lot, and I'd love to downgrade to, say, 25 watts.
 

Re:Random Question: (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803458)

There is no single power draw figure for computers, the power draw depends on what you're doing with it. Typically, you'd look at an idle power draw and a maximum power draw. 110 W would be a very high power draw for an idle desktop computer (less so if that number includes the display), but it's not very high for a desktop computer under load. For mobile devices, the idle power draw with active wireless connection is also important (since relative to the idle power draw, the wifi requires a notable amount of power). The maximum power draw is important since it determines what kind of power supply you'll need, but since most devices spend most of their time in idle, it's an important number, as well.

Laptop reviews often measure and list the power draw, or you can figure it out from the battery runtime measurements. For (custom) desktops, you can get a ballpark figure by looking at the components. Most of them have a known idle and maximum power draw. The published thermal design power of CPUs and GPUs (TDP) is a fairly reliable upper bound for power draw. Under load, those two draw the vast majority of the power in an average system (no surprises there). In idle, things get more tricky, and the power draw of the mainboard (or chipset, really) becomes a factor. But most components -- e.g. regular consumer hard disks, RAM -- don't draw all that much power and are only worth worrying about when you're mobile or into silent computers (where optimizing the power draw is like 90% of the job).

Re:Random Question: (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803870)

I can get a €15 machine from the local garage sale if need be. That still has nothing to do with the OLPC. The majority of people in Africa make a few dollars a month which they spend on food, medication and other essential items. They cannot afford a computer, no matter how cheap it is by our standards. And dumping them in front of a "common" laptop would do them no good, either. The XO is not simply about getting online. Please read the mission statement and the docs on the project's website [laptop.org] .

Your question, though, is quite impossible to answer. Consumption depends to a large degree on how you use your machine, so every user will get different results. Independent tests and reviews are the only way aside from personal measurings I could think of to get any realistic figure.

Re:Random Question: (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804772)

Will your laptop run from a hand crank?

CPUs and GPUs are usually the energy hogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34805848)

See here for video card power consumption: http://forums.atomicmpc.com.au/index.php?showtopic=264 [atomicmpc.com.au]

Laptop GPUs use somewhat less but the numbers can be hard to find.

CPU power consumption specs can be seen on wikipedia (or on Newegg)

110W is not actually that much these days. I don`t think you are going to get down to 25W unless you get a small form factor motherboard that uses mobile chips.

Courtesy of ARM (5, Interesting)

markass530 (870112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802116)

surprised this wasn't in the summary but "The XO-1.75 is the first OLPC laptop to use chips based on processor technology from Arm Holdings, which has been a huge factor in reducing power on the laptop, " Good stuff, and it seems as if the mythical $100 price is within shooting distance

Re:Courtesy of ARM (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802210)

Yes, if you use a rifle with a powerful scope, you just might be able to hit a sign with $100 printed on it, with an XO-1.75 lying on the ground next to you.

Re:Courtesy of ARM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802226)

I thought the whole piece was marketing euphemism for a bleak sales next year. Saves half the power is sounds way better than we will sell only half the computers that we sold this year

No flash or Java (0)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802548)

Flash is important for the web and Java is a MAJOR standard in learning programming and developing web and applications on Linux.

Re:No flash or Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802856)

Java works on ARM...

Re:No flash or Java (4, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802950)

Flash is a curse on the web...

But it does work on some ARM stuff. Just because Apple doesn't have it doesn't mean others don't. I have it on my N900, for instance.

Re:No flash or Java (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803306)

But it doesn't work on ARM, at least not fully. I have been to many flash websites where the N900's flashlite wouldn't load the flash properly.

Yes I said it you are running FlashLite. Not Flash. learn the difference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Flash_Lite [wikipedia.org]

Re:No flash or Java (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803472)

From your link -

"In Addition to Flash Lite, which is typically incorporated into a mobile device operating system as provided by the manufacturer, the full Adobe Flash Player may also be available for installation from the mobile device's app store (and currently only if the device has an ARM Cortex A8 processor)"

I'm not convinced it does run flash lite, you know, I think it has the full version. It's not up to dat (it's still flash 9) which may be where some of the trouble comes from, but I'm pretty sure it has full-fat flash. Also I'm pretty sure that android devices running 2.2+ have flash 10 support, no flash lite.

Re:No flash or Java (2)

chowdahhead (1618447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804132)

The n900 runs full flash 9.0.277.0, not flash lite.

Re:No flash or Java (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804418)

The N900 have full flash, at least version 9.4. Version 10.1 is available to ARM too, just not widely available for the N900 (you can try asking for it here [ti.com] )

Re:No flash or Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34805302)

The Full flash player 10.1 runs on ARM Cortex-A8 CPUs -> Android 2.2 devices. OLPC XO-OS is Fedora based though, not sure if it'll run Flash. Full flash runs on the XO-1 (AMD Geode 400MHz) and XO-1.5 (Via C3 1GHz). A little slow on the XO-1 though for Youtube and heavier stuff - most Multimedia-happy stuff on the web (AJAX, etc)'s not designed to run on sub-GHz CPUs anymore.

Re:No flash or Java (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803086)

Oh dear. How many African villages have a DSLAM in front of their medicine man's hut? And how many primary schools in the Indonesian countryside offer higher level web app development classes? This is not a general-purpose laptop to be issued to first world students, it is a machine purpose-built for a very narrow set of requirements. Remember: You deal with people to whom a cell phone is the pinnacle of civilisation.

Besides, Java is available for ARM. And massively overrated as a "standard in learning programming".

Re:No flash or Java (1)

bmullan (1425023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803298)

??

look at the technology being used in projects like Linux4Afrika [linux4afrika.de] . Although I don't think they are using OLPC they have been doing a great job and really utilizing low cost technology.

And as for Indonesian Web Design education & classes...
It appears from the Directory Indonesian Web Designers [designfirms.org] ) website that they have a growing industry.

Back to OLPC. I think one big problem being solved by OLPC is that in some of these regions are so incredibly large in population. China and India alone have a huge job ahead to educate the hundreds of millions of children. Let alone continuously educate millions of teachers for those kids. And finally connect the teachers to those kids over such large geographically dispersed areas.

Any solution to be developed had to be inexpensive enough to scale to vast numbers of children that have to be reached out to.

Will their Internet be the same experience as someone Japan etc. No, probably not.
But perhaps their internet (note the little "i") may allow Teachers to help educate more kids spread over greater geographic areas.
Wireless technologies are big in these areas because they often don't have any existing communications infrastructure.
The ARM processor choice is also great. Very low power.

Re:No flash or Java (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803946)

The Linux4Afrika project outfits schools with computer rooms. Different focus, different goal, different requirements.

South Africa has a high tech industry in rapid growth. At the same time more than 70% of the population live in dire poverty and receive little to no education. Similarly Indonesia is not a uniformly industrialised country. The OLPC is aimed at those at the fringe of technological progress. In rural areas in third world countries you cannot simply put a handful of computers in a room and hook them up the the great wide internet. You said it yourself. In essence we two agree.

Re:No flash or Java (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804446)

Not sure where in the article they say that won't include them. Both are available for ARM processors, at the very least, so if are not included is their choice, not limitation enforced by the platform.

it's about time (3, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802122)

They should have started with ARM to begin with. Had they done that then they wouldn't have had the issues with Intel back stabbing them nor Microsoft wasting their time. Better late than never I guess.

LoB

Re:it's about time (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802496)

I hardly think that Intel stabbed them in the back by working on a competing product (and more expensive) product. Is it wrong to have a choice in the marketplace? That's as bad as when Microsoft insisted computer makers only sold DOS/Windows and not any competing OS. How is it that OLPC suddenly became the underdog for being monopolistic?

Re:it's about time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802664)

Backstabbing: http://www.core77.com/blog/business/intel_quits_olpc_efforts_no_intel_xo_at_ces_8599.asp

Re:it's about time (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802696)

The other term would be upselling. Companies do it with their own products too.

Re:it's about time (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804476)

they stabbed them in the back by not only creating a sub standard device but by also going after XO accounts and hound them to switch to the ClassmatePC. That is stabbing in the back or would it be two-faced. They were on the OLPC board and even donated lots of $$ to the project but undercut the project with their own.

And I say sub standard because the Classmate PC was not outdoor readable like the XO, it wasn't designed with the device to device mesh networking, and it was much more power hungry than the XO.. To name just a few missing features which were design elements of the XO.

One more thing, a company can not be "monopolistic" without the power to do so. OLPC had no market power to dictate anything and they have not been doing what they are doing mainly for profits like corporations such as Intel and Microsoft. Both of which do have monopoly power and have both been found guilty of using that power to protect their revenues.

LoB

Re:it's about time (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802706)

> Had they done that then they wouldn't have had the issues with Intel
> back stabbing them nor Microsoft wasting their time.

Did you read the press release? It's thank you sir, may I have another! They cite Microsoft's (likely vaporware or App store locked down) porting of Windows to ARM as being the reason the ARM version is now a viable notion. They still can't imagine a world without teaching the kids to be good Microsoft Office Users.

> They should have started with ARM to begin with.

No that would have been pointless at the time. If it isn't apparent by now their whole plan was to wave the penguin flag until Microsoft came through with a cheap enough deal you haven't been paying attention. ARM would have made that plan impossible. Besides, they had AMD in as a partner at the beginning... until they used them as a lever to force Intel to give em a sweet deal. Problem was once Intel got AMD out they stopped giving em free stuff because by then it was clear there was zero chance Negroponte was actually going to be able to deliver on any of his promises.

Re:it's about time (2)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803408)

Truth to be told, problem isn't with OLPC, but with their 'customers'. They were happy about getting laptops cheaply, but when they discovered that they won't run Windows, but Sugar or Fedora they weren't pleased. So OLPC tried to work with Microsoft to port Windows XP to OLPC 1 and OLPC 1.5, Microsoft made half-assed effort, didn't quite succeeded, and OLPC were back to recommending Sugar/Fedora combo (or simply Fedora).

So while they could say that ARM could run Windows desktop OS, as you said it is still vaporware for now (with Microsoft's development speed I would aim for 3 - 4 years), and it is more like sales point than actual field requirement for now. It is for administrative people who don't dig computers, but they now Microsoft and Windows. So when it is said 'it COULD run Windows', they concerns are already addressed.

Also I would like to note that some three years ago there weren't much ARM solutions available for such level - no one used ARM for laptops and whole ARM platform were far from openness. So I think Windows argument is merely window-dressing and true reasons for ARM adaptation 'so late' is more technical than political ones.

Re:it's about time (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804296)

wrong, Microsoft went in after the OLPC MOUs and signed sweet deals with these countries and fed them millions of dollars in 'special' packages. These special packages required they use Microsoft Windows software so when OLPC came back, they had to tote the Microsoft word and require the devices ran Windows.

ARM has been around for years and there was even XScale at the time along with other ARM designs. Debating performance capabilities would be appropriate since I don't think any of those ARM devices ran screens larger than 320x240. And Microsofts problems with running XP on the XO are the same problems they have today. Windows is inefficient and resource intensive for low power devices.

LoB

thanks for the FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34804138)

hate to break it to you, but

number of linux laptops shipped by olpc: 2,000,000+

number of windows laptops shipped by olpc: 0

if deployment schools want windows, they have to work that out with microsoft. olpc's only involvement was patching the firmware to make it possible, and microsoft paid for that. they've never spent a dime on windows shit or shipped a windows laptop.

Re:thanks for the FUD (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804468)

Not quite. The original designs evaluated ARM, MIPS, PowerPC and x86 chips. The Geode that they eventually went with had both lower performance per Watt and performance per dollar than several of the competing chips, but it was chosen because 'able to run Windows' was a selling point. They'd have had cheaper and lower-power machines years ago if they'd gone with ARM originally.

Re:it's about time (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804386)

I did not read the press release and will have to just to see the bits on following Microsoft further. That would be yet another dumb ass move by OLPC. I don't believe the org originally planned on dealing with Microsoft since many who left had done so after the Linux based product was shipping and Negroponte started moving closer to Microsoft.

LoB

Re:it's about time (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804442)

They cite Microsoft's (likely vaporware or App store locked down) porting of Windows to ARM as being the reason the ARM version is now a viable notion

I've not seen the press release, but if it is then it's bullshit. The XO 1.75 has been in development with an ARM chip for a long time before MS decided to port Windows 8 to ARM. If anything, the cause and effect are the other way around - Microsoft sees lots of third-world countries deploying ARM-based infrastructure and wants to be able to sell them Windows.

Re:it's about time (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804692)

Had they done that then they wouldn't have had the issues with Intel back stabbing them nor Microsoft wasting their time. Better late than never I guess.

OLPC was sold to the third world education minister as a one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it bundle.

The XO hardware. The open source software. The Sugar UI. The constructivist philosophy of education straight from the Western media lab.

The minister wasn't buying.

The plain truth of it is that of the 1.8 million XO laptops deployed, about 120,000 are in Rwanda and all but a tiny fraction of the rest in Latin America. OLPC: Summary of laptop orders [wikipedia.org] [Dec 26, 2010]

Uruguay has been a success story for a OLPC - and, somewhat more modestly, perhaps, for Linux. OS - Uruguay [statcounter.com]

But that is as good as it gets. OS - Peru [statcounter.com]

I know this is going to come off wrong... (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802126)

But didn't we learn from the promise and price fiasco with the 1.0 and beta of this hardware? I personally remember being very excited in the mid 2000's about this hardware, how it was going to save the world, bring tech to the masses and the promise of a reasonable computer bringing network computing to the masses around the world (including the US where there are 30-40 million people without modern computers). The lack of bandwidth (price and locale) as well as the internal issues in OLPC made this a forgettable device much like that of the folks at CrunchTech with the CrunchPad. Lessons learned, first in wins the game, its time for tech companies to stop playing catchup and do something real and inventive that will change the face of our user experience. Cheap hardware and software is a nice idea, I'm just not holding my breath on this evolutionary release (soft and hard).

Re:I know this is going to come off wrong... (0)

Hooya (518216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802194)

> I'm just not holding my breath on this evolutionary release (soft and hard)

oh, but I do hold my breath, every time, for the "release" (and yes, some would call it vital to the evolutionary process) and wait for it to go soft from hard.

Re:I know this is going to come off wrong... (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802240)

That is my point, its a promise and no delivery in real market terms. The real problem is that folks have a dream, but it doesn't come to fruition via either reality or forced-up-the-market power of a large corp. OLPC is just a pipe dream, over promise and under delivery regardless of intent. I do not hold my breath, for I will die before what has been pipe-dreamed becomes reality. Maybe in due time, 20-30 years, the folks of the world will be liberated. Until then, I deal with reality as best as I can and ignore the fantasy of an equal society where a majority of non-modern cultures are having a hard time dealing with simple dysentery.

Re:I know this is going to come off wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802318)

whoosh

Re:I know this is going to come off wrong... (2)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802478)

fantasy of an equal society where a majority of non-modern cultures

Of course it's a fantasy. The ideas of "equal society" and cultures with ANY distinguishing characteristics are mutually exclusive.

Re:I know this is going to come off wrong... (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802414)

But didn't we learn from the promise and price fiasco with the 1.0 and beta of this hardware?

Side-effect learning: they were the first to step into what is now called netbook and probably the very existence of the netbooks and ebook readers has roots in their first attempt (even if they failed on price, they showed there is a market for low-end laptops). Keeping into acount they are not a for-profit, it's still remarkable they managed to pull such a trick.

Only one? (1)

lewko (195646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802180)

How many laptops does a kid need?

Re:Only one? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802264)

Thats a good question. My son has a DS, an iPod, his mums MacBook, his HP laptop running ubuntu. And now the 3D DS is coming out....

Re:Only one? (1)

Macrat (638047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802362)

How many laptops does a kid need?

Depends on how often the schools has the computers stolen.

Re:Only one? (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802766)

At least two: one the kid pretends to work on, and one to make and sell kiddy porn in order to pay for a games console.

prehistory meets postmodernity (4, Interesting)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802266)

On the one hand, this article makes a clear case that there will be children in Chad mindlessly turning a crank for one hour and 47 minutes in order to do their homework for the night.

Yet on the other hand, these kids have orders of magnitude more computing horsepower than I did as a Reagan-era high school kid in an upper middle class community. Hard to know who should envy who.

Re:prehistory meets postmodernity (1)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802468)

Turn the crank. I thought maybe I would like to live disconnected from technology, and while I find it tolerable bordom set in easily after a few months. I live in Northern Mozambique where the other option is soccer with a plastic-bag ball or sitting. Turning a crank to use a computer is sure less mind numbing for these kids (although they are used to it).

Re:prehistory meets postmodernity (0)

ProfessionalCookie (673314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802480)

To be fair the kids also spend their time hunting rats and birds to eat. That's kind of fun.

Re:prehistory meets postmodernity (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805326)

The hand cranks have been phased out. They're very tiring and inefficient & broke off from test laptops. The human-powered solution is now currently a yoyo-like pull-string device (think starters on motorboat engines/generators). For the XO-1, 1 minute of pulling = 10 minutes of battery life. Since switching to ARM cut a lot of power consumption, should last longer with the XO-1.75s.

Re:prehistory meets postmodernity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802562)

They could possibly just set up a goat to walk in circles or something and have a few little gears going. Bam! They now have a goat walking/laptop charging business.

Re:prehistory meets postmodernity (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804540)

On the one hand, this article makes a clear case that there will be children in Chad mindlessly turning a crank for one hour and 47 minutes in order to do their homework for the night.

No it doesn't, it says that it's possible to charge it with a hand crank in 1 hour 47 minutes. The original design for the XO-1 had a hand crank, but the torque on the case damaged the prototypes so it was removed. You can charge it with an external hand crank, but it's more likely that you will charge it with a pedal device if you are using human power - they shipped some of these with the XO-1 orders. You can also charge it from a solar or wind generator quite easily - wind turbines powerful enough to charge it are very cheap and can be made from a motor salvaged from scrap and locally sourced wood.

Re:prehistory meets postmodernity (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804858)

".. that there will be children in Chad mindlessly turning a crank for one hour and 47 minutes ..."

Still, walking 20 miles to get it reloaded on a powerline sucks too.

But now it's only half the cranking needed that the previous model required, if this continues, the kids won't get any exercise soon.

But does it run Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802286)

Does it run Linux or is it a case of getting them poor peasants hooked on Windows so that Microsoft can find a way of taxing them at some point in the future?

Re:But does it run Linux? (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802418)

According to this website [laptop.org] it does.

"OLPC and Red Hat continually develop the Fedora-derived OLPC Linux operating system."

Re:Oops (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802434)

I linked to an article about OLPC 1.5. However, this more recent article [liliputing.com] states that they are continuing to use a Fedora-based OS.

Re:Oops (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805336)

The current OLPC XO-OS now dual boots to either the Sugar learning environment (for kids) or the more traditional GNOME GUI for a more windows-like experience. This is a really big improvement IMHO for "more traditional" and older users as it made a lot of Linux apps work out of the box on the XO. With Sugar, you need to "Sugarize" apps first to be able to run with the GUI if you didn't want to launch them via command line.

Re:But does it run Linux? (2)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804492)

At least the ones used in Uruguay come with Linux, almost all school children here have a linux laptop, and you see poor children on the street or buses using them.

Get cranking (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802304)

McNierney recharged the XO-1.75 with a hand crank. It takes 1 hour and 47 minutes to fully recharge the battery by hand, he said.

I wish they also said the average life of one charge to put the quote into perspective.
But close to a couple hours to charge the battery makes me think they should come up with some more passive solutions.

Re:Get cranking (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805348)

Hand crank's been phased out in favor of a yoyo-like pull-string generator. More efficient and less tiring.

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Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802314)

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Great! (3, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802324)

Great! Can't wait to buy one.

Note that I said one.

It always was a way. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802342)

It always was a way to get R&D paid for under the guise of charity. They could have easily made a computer for under a hundred dollars, but that wasn't what they were trying to do.

Does the price (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802514)

include the buy-one-for-a-nigger tax?

Decentralize the technology (3, Interesting)

Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802568)

The main problem with the OLPC, the one thing that made the project open to subversion by companies like Intel and Microsoft, is its centralized model of development. You get the laptops or tablets from one source, say, the central government of the country that buys into the idea or some buy-one/donate-the-other scheme. I understand that it's supposed to be more of an educational than a computing project. But this set-up generates dependency. What happens when the machines are damaged? More importantly, what happens to the next batch of children without laptops? Since the machines are manufactured in the usual Asian places (hint: two countries claiming the same name), this will likely result in a foreign exchange outflow from a country that can least afford it, as certain essential non-technological items (e.g. food and basic medicine) may need to take priority.

What the OLPC should have set out to develop is a RepRap [reprap.org] -like infrastructure that will allow the adults (or even older children) of the community that takes part in the project to manufacture the laptops by themselves from cheap, readily available components. If this isn't 100% possible, then give them at least enough transfer of technology to allow them to build the least technological parts, like the case or the keyboard. Think of a laptop case made out of recycled plastic or hard laminated cardboard. Then again, how far off is the day when we can run a desktop OS on an Arduino [arduino.cc] board?

Don't just give them fish. Teach them how to fish.

Computers made using such technology might appear crude at first, but not much cruder than the devices that ushered in the PC revolution.

Re:Decentralize the technology (2)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804598)

The computers aren't the goal of the education (at least, for the target age of the XO) but the medium. They aren't learning computing, but math, language, geography and so on, using the computers as a much improved version of blackboard or paper and pencil.

Yes, it generates dependency. Not all countries have the infrastructure or raw materials to build that kind of computers in an affordable way. But most of what matters (OS/applications) is open, you can install sugar in "normal" laptops, desktops PC, or other architecture computers. If some competitor oir your own country decides to build a similar portable computer able to run it, can.

Re:Decentralize the technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34804972)

Good idea, but probably too early.

Production of simple stuff like metal and plastic is likely to explode in Africa following in the steps of China and India, but it's hard to say when it will happen. If that happens it will be followed by pirate copying of more advanced products, followed by production of own designs, followed by cutting edge innovation.

one LAPTOP per child (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802598)

then why did they switch to tablets?
i thought these machines were meant to assist in education, not for them to waste time doing worthless crap? can any of YOU imagine using a touchscreen tablet for school work? because i sure can't, not without a proper keyboard.
it seems to me that the money spent on the touchscreen would have been better used in putting in a better processor or more memory. or just lower the price.

OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it again? (5, Interesting)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802608)

I never thought I'd be a beneficiary from the OLPC project. I'd never be able to use an OLPC for anything I do. But I love how the project has put a bent in the technical landscape of portable devices industry. It was a failure as an education project perhaps, but it succeeded in more than one way as a laptop research project.

When OLPC came out in 2007, the laptops were on a lap-melting, back-breaking rush towards bigger & faster. Nearly everything came in with a Core2 or a Core2 Duo, with lots of RAM (yeah, guess what you can't save power on, RAM needs a strobe whether it has data or not). The fact that OLPC came out in 2007, sort of forced the geeks to look at weight as a valid concern for a consumer device. Not to mention questions about why a 1995 top-end laptop ran for 4 hours on batteries, when a 2005 one won't do the same at the same weight.

Less than a year after OLPC came the rush of netbooks. Finally machines that people can afford to buy (like here in India) and carry around without being tied to a wall plug. Scroll paste a few years, it is not only consumers, using them. I see Rasmus [lerdorf.com] post PHP benchmarks off his netbook, I see entire teams (like Inkscape) suddenly sit up and re-work their UI workflows/dialog-space for it. I see the Notion Ink use OLPC Pixel Qi tech in the new tablet.

Socially speaking, the project has been a great failure. But technologically, it has left a huge impact on portable devices everywhere. As for the former, the project probably forgot that "Charity begins at Home". Refusing to sell full-price to americans wanting them shows a complete lack of understanding of how economies of scale & price segmentation would've worked out. I'm not going to mourn the failure of Negroponte, but I'll just give the technical folks at OLPC a big thumbs-up.

I'll happily pay 200$ for an arm netbook'ish if they'll sell me one in India. Hell, I'll even fix all the things that don't work for me - for FREE. Not all of us are poor & in need of a hand-out. Heck, I'm at the verge of putting in a pre-order for a Notion Ink Adam, for double the price, if the hype pans out.

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802892)

I'm not sure I would credit OLPC with that. I would think that Asus and their marketing of their EEE has more to do with the trend of netbooks than OLPC.

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (2)

mean pun (717227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803018)

Socially speaking, the project has been a great failure. But technologically, it has left a huge impact on portable devices everywhere. As for the former, the project probably forgot that "Charity begins at Home". Refusing to sell full-price to americans wanting them shows a complete lack of understanding of how economies of scale & price segmentation would've worked out. I'm not going to mourn the failure of Negroponte, but I'll just give the technical folks at OLPC a big thumbs-up.

I think it is unfair to declare this project a great failure, even in the social area. The project hasn't ended yet, and considering the highly ambitious goal they have set themselves, it is no wonder it takes them time to reach it. But I agree that the technology spin-offs of the project are remarkable too, although I think you should give Negroponte some credit for that part too.

I'm not so sure mass-selling the original OLPC on other markets would have been a good idea. The support organization to do that properly would have been costly, and a distraction from the real goals of the project. Perhaps they could have created or partnered with a commercial enterprise that would license the design to sell to consumers, but getting the legalities of such a deal right would have been tricky. And the first OLPC design was really just a beta anyway, if that.

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34803172)

"Socially speaking, the project has been a great failure."

By what standard has it been a failure?

The project is helping millions of 3rd world kids wrt education. Not as many as Negroponte would have liked to, but how's that a great failure?

Are you aware that many of he great tech corporations want this not-for-profit paradigm changing project to be a failure?

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803302)

I'd never be able to use an OLPC for anything I do.

Actually, I still use my original XO-1 for one thing that no apparently other netbook or laptop can do: it is the only netbook I know of that can be read in full sunlight. When I go to the beach, I can sit 5 hours in the sun while working - in my case, using the bash shell, which is perfect for my particular project. To my knowledge, no other netbook or laptop can do that. If there is one, let me know so I can prepare for next summer... I still hate the OLPC keyboard.

(Actually I don't like the beach that much but go to keep the GF happy. I've given up on arguments about dangers of too much sun. I sit under an umbrella with SPF 30 sunblock while she perfects her tan.)

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803512)

AFAIK RAM uses only a little amount of power, even when you have lots and lots of it. Since having more memory is bound to shave of some power consumption in other areas, it's probably the dumbest area to cut down in order to save power.

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803754)

When OLPC came out in 2007, the laptops were on a lap-melting, back-breaking rush towards bigger & faster. Nearly everything came in with a Core2 or a Core2 Duo, with lots of RAM (yeah, guess what you can't save power on, RAM needs a strobe whether it has data or not). The fact that OLPC came out in 2007, sort of forced the geeks to look at weight as a valid concern for a consumer device. Not to mention questions about why a 1995 top-end laptop ran for 4 hours on batteries, when a 2005 one won't do the same at the same weight.

In my experience, smaller and lighter laptops (subnotebooks) have been around for a long time, but before the OLPC, they were expensive premium items. The OLPC made it clear that you could sacrifice some of the premium features, and make it both small and cheap.

While the advances in technology were probably playing a part, there was also a social acceptance factor. Surprisingly, people were content with machines that looked and felt cheap. You could see the same thing with regular laptops, which some years ago were mainly used by executives. Now you see them at homes and colleges everywhere, because they are simply convenient for those uses.

Having used laptops as my primary computers since 1997, I feel the same general idea about them as I do with cell phones (been using since 1995): they are more "personal" computers. Cell phones make social sense, because you usually want to call a person instead of a place. In the same way, your computer belongs to you, instead of some fixed place.

There is another interesting factor with social acceptance. Sitting at a desktop computer isolates you from the people nearby, but a laptop is less intrusive. For example, sitting on a couch with the laptop on your lap, there is nothing in the way of eye contact with others. Netbooks, tablets and cell phones are even less intrusive, and thus more socially accepted.

Re:OLPC revolutionized Laptops - time to do it aga (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805492)

Bah, I doubt OLPC had anything to do with it at all. The thing that launched the whole market in 2008 was because Intel suddenly had a dedicated low-power design in the Atom not just LV/ULV versions that were custom versions/bins of existing designs with large dies. The extremely small die size compared to all the other processors gave Intel a reason to flood the market with cheap computers and still make a very, very solid margin.

New processor designs take 3-4 years from start to completion which is why Intel has 4 years betweem every tock, AMD has said the same about GPU designs. That puts the Atom back in 2004-2005, while whatever the OLPC project did in 2006-2007 which was their main years is completely irrelevant to that. It was an existing project at Intel, of course they didn't mind if the OLPC paved some ground but it was going to happen regardless.

Maybe it got more attention in India but I can promise around here nobody had heard about the OLPC project, nobody has seen an OLPC and yet netbooks and minipcs with Atom were a big hit. Negroponte doesn't exactly have a monopoly on predicting that computers will be smaller, faster and cheaper. And near as I can tell, netbooks ended up running mostly Windows with about zero of any OLPC innovations. Sure he achieved a few things, but this is mostly just wishful thinking.

Will this be as open as the previous OLPCs? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34802738)

With the previous OLPC laptops, a lot of effort (IIRC) went into finding hardware chips from manufacturers willing to provide open drivers.

Will the same thing apply to this new OLPC? Or are they abandoning the idea of openness?

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802838)

Why are they developing it at all when I can now buy an atom based linux netbook or android tablet for under £100? Am I missing something?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34802906)

The fact that their hardware and software is built with a vision other than planned obsolescence, as opposed to generic cheap consumer crap?

It's about training teachers ... (2, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803160)

I've tracked the OLPC project and have worked in educational technology for years, and arguments over processors and power consumption are bullshit. The same goes for the philosophies of education behind educational technology. At the moment, the biggest issue is teacher training. Simply put, most teachers don't know how to use computers in the context of classroom teaching. That's even true when it comes down to the basics. Sticking an ARM processor into the case isn't going to solve that. Getting the computer to run on 2 Watts isn't going to solve that. Praying that the child is smarter than the teacher when it comes down to adopting new technologies for learning isn't going to solve that. Indeed, this emphasis upon technology over learning and these idle hopes that children are better at using technology for learning have left educational technology in the same cesspool that it was in 30 years ago: teachers, the people who are responsible for guiding children through the process of learning, are almost as ignorant about how to use it today as they were way back then.

(For what it's worth, I think that there is some value in the 'student is smarter than the teacher' mentality when it comes down to educational technology. Yet that only works for a subset of children, since it involves a lot of self-motivation.)

Re:It's about training teachers ... (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34803608)

To their benefit, OLPC has talked about this as part of their mission. They're not ignoring it, but one thing I'm finding is that OLPC is playing a Long Game (possibly because sales of the devices themselves hasn't been lucrative enough to finance the later phases of the rollout as quickly as they'd hoped).

Teacher training is an issue in the developed world as well. I work with assistive tech for kids with disabilities, and I always hold that if I walk into a classroom and the teacher says "Oh, thank God you're here, his device isn't working" means I'm doing something wrong. I spend at least as much time, if not more, with the staff as with the students and their gear.

Of course self-motivated autodidacts are a minority of students anywhere, but without the tools to self-teach, that isn't an advantage and they won't have the opportunity to learn. I'm a lot more willing to roll out the tools to see what happens because to wait until certain that everyone is "ready", it will never happen.

Re:It's about training teachers ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34804518)

I have been working for kids too on different places of South America and Europe(I'm European).
I agree giving computers to kids is like giving pianos or violins to children, you need an expert to make the children to become experts BUT at the same time I see computers as the best solution for their problems, because computers are:
1-easy to use
2-connected to internet(when there are the best experts in every field if you know how to search, e.g all books are on Internet today free like songs were with Napster yesterday).
3-a communication tool between people

Is not "being smarter than the teacher", US people are individualistic and can't understand this, but other people with bigger problems than you help each other constantly and kids even more. You only need a kid that knows on the group for the entire group to learn, and of course in a group of 40 children odds are at least one is smarter than the teacher.

I have seen places when the teacher is alcoholic, and is the best you can get, is going to take decades for the teacher to improve but you can do something for them today with computers. It is not the ideal but vastly improves what they have today.

Thumbs up for UK enterprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34803772)

Nice to see UK ARM making more roads into computing. Us old Acornphiles knew that the humble ARM chip would take over the World 20 years ago!

Kindle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34803864)

Why do these kids need a full powered laptop and can't just have a Kindle with (or without) unlimited 3G.
- The battery life is phenomenal
- You can drop it
- Low learning curve for teachers
- Extremely light weight = cheap to ship oversees
- Project Gutenburg - 33,000 free books
- You can read on it outside (why not make the entire back of it a solar panel?)

Why are they using cranks when there are solar powered backpacks? (if the amazon price is $75, then the seller is just making $45...)
http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Pow-Backpack-Navy-ET0016N/dp/B004B1A9IW/ref=sr_1_13?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1294496630&sr=1-13
or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ly3vzxztxA

Re:Kindle? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 3 years ago | (#34804488)

Why do these kids need a full powered laptop and can't just have a Kindle with (or without) unlimited 3G.

Because laptops will make it easier for them to do our tech support in a couple years. Boom!
(Also of note, the nook is better. :P)

Where, IMO OLPC got lost... (1)

alanh (29068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34805240)

I have a G1G1 OLPC 1.0 that we bought in a fit of enthusiasm back when they first came out. These days, it sits untouched.

The greatest highlight on the device was the great screen. I certainly hope Pixel Qi finally starts shipping in volume at a reasonable price. The eReader mode looks great, and I'm sure they've improved in the intervening time. The tough, splashproof hardware was nice too.

Unfortunately, lowlights abounded: It was incredibly slow. It took forever to boot and applications starting took way too long to start. The keyboard was atrocious (even kids are better with a full-sized keyboard). The touchpad was wonky. The software only made sense if you were with a whole classroom full of other OLPCs (at the university I work at, we had a couple of get-togethers, and we managed to do a little bit of the "sharing" stuff with it). It was cool when it worked, but hard to get to work. Documentation wasn't great and even with a collaborative effort by 10 or so IT folks, we couldn't get things to work consistently.

Even with the enthusiasm most of us had for the idea, it was hard to get enthusiastic about developing for it as you couldn't do much out of the box and those of us with the expertise to program found it uncomfortable to work on. Yeah, you could plug in a keyboard an mouse, but still, it wasn't a great experience.

I also tried a few of the alternate faster-booting linux variants on it, and those improved the software, but the keyboard/touchpad still made it unpleasant to work on.

I know, I know. This thing is way beyond what a kid in abject poverty in a developing nation would have otherwise, but if people with expertise in computers can't get it to work and find it uncomfortable to work on, how would the expect to get developers to work on it?

Then the later issues with Classmate competition, XP, management, delivery, etc all compounded apon the initial hardware design issues....

I thought it was a great project, but not so much that I actually wanted to use the device after I got one. I tried for a long while...

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