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The Sub-$100 Laptop?

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the no-extras-like-disk-drives-and-batteries dept.

Portables 345

Vollernurd writes "The BBC is carrying this article detailing Nick Negroponte's plans to deveop and distribute a sub-$100 notebook computer. It would be very basic and stripped down and be used in developing countries as a way of distributing school books and such. Interesting to see how they will cut costs. Yes, it does run Linux." You can read another slashdot story about this machine when it was discussed on Red Herring awhile ago.

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This is a dupe (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606552)

Re:This is a dupe (0)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606683)

Good thing they duped it because it's a great story and I missed it the first time.

Re:This is a dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606699)

"You can read another slashdot story about this machine when it was discussed on Red Herring awhile ago."

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Good job on silently editing, Taco.

Re:This is a dupe (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606777)

You make it sound like he has already posted his last story.

Re:This is a dupe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606786)

He has. Didn't you hear? He's gone [] !

This is an _intentional_ and valuable dupe (-1, Offtopic)

brian.glanz (849625) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606803)

Hey Coward, CmdrTaco says himself! in his post, that this is an intentional dupe.

Don't pretend it is never worth revisiting a topic of discussion, and don't be too proud of your "Informative" mods. Especially when it's about possibly bringing huge, additional numbers online, it is well worth an occasional, intentional duping.


Re:This is an _intentional_ and valuable dupe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606818)

In fairness to the OP, CmdrTaco had not silently added the "this is a dupe" line until after he posted.

Please pay attention (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606820)

Taco EDITED IT AFTER THE FACT to make mention that it was a dupe. When it was first posted, there was no mention of the previous story.

Not just developing countries (4, Insightful)

gclef (96311) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606569)

I know the point of this is to be available in developing countries, but I can see this being very popular in "first-world" countries as well. (heck, I'd buy one) They may have to control how they're sold/distributed to keep the developed world from snapping them all up.

Re:Not just developing countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606630)

I just have this nightmare of billions of laptops that will eventually end up in the ocean or something...

Re:Not just developing countries (-1, Flamebait)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606631)

And NOT in developing countries. As has been mentioned before- if your salary is a dollar a day or less, who's going to spend four months salary on a laptop? With intermittent power access to boot? I think these things should be marketed to the group at which they're really pointed- lower-middle class and lower class westerners. And upper-middle class people in first world countries. Maybe.

Re:Not just developing countries (4, Informative)

vegetasaiyajin (701824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606747)

You ignorant. Not all third world countries are the same. I live in one and Iknow lots of people who cannotcurrently afford a computer, but would be able to buy a 100$ one. We don't have intermitent power. In fact our third world power infrastructure is better than some parts of the first world (e.g. California not long ago). These computers would be perfect for a country like ours.

Re:Not just developing countries (4, Informative)

greenhide (597777) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606797)

These would be invaluable in things like health clinics, where a wealth of information could suddenly be made available, for much less than the cost of purchasing a set of books on medicine and diseases.

The point is that this technology is needed there; at the current price point, it's completely out of reach of the consumer. Offering these laptops at a reasonable price means that finally those who need these laptops can purchase them.

I sincerely doubt that these laptops will be used primarily for recreational purposes, so someone who really does need them might willingly take out a loan in order to purchase one.

NGOs, for one, will certainly be snapping these up. These notebooks will make their work so much easier.

Perhaps it might be useful to offer laptops to lower income westerners (I'm thinking particularly of urban and rural poor), but lower middle class westerners can suck it up and use a credit card if they really want a laptop. Even Apple has laptops starting for less than $1000.

The "intermittent power access" is why they're using laptops rather than desktops, which, if you think about it, would be much cheaper anyway. Laptops need less power overall, and you can plug them in during the 2-3 hours of scheduled "uptime" on the local grid. For clinics running off of generators, desktops, which would put a huge drain on the electricity, were probably just not possible (or, if they were, it might be one desktop computer for a dozen or more people). With laptops, they can now use several.

So there are a lot of benefits to offering these inexpensive laptops. While this is certainly a commercial offering and not a "donation" to developing countries, it is nevertheless a very beneficial thing being done. Although technology is not the "answer to the problem", it can be an invaluable tool for the real solutions. I believe that the available of inexpensive laptops just might transform developing countries as much as the introduction of wireless phones has.

Re:Not just developing countries (5, Insightful)

theVP (835556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606652)

all I would end up paying for is the price of mobility, really. I could care less how it performs at a price like that. Definitely wouldn't use it for my primary system, but for a CHEAP mobile secondary, why the hell not?

And I really like this guy's motivation for this. I think it just goes to show that technological gurus aren't money grubbers by nature.

Re:Not just developing countries (2, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606661)

This is awsome. I wish they'd make a for profit version similar to this in the $150-200 range.

Re:Not just developing countries (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606768)

This is awsome. I wish they'd make a for profit version similar to this in the $150-200 range.

Just ask for your cash discount.

You can always find *someone* to sell you a brand new notebook for $150-$200. And, yes, they're making a nice profit ($150-$200).

Lots of your inner cities already have such discount retail programs.

The machines come with Windows pre-installed. Most of them even come with user data pre-installed.

They'll even make same-day delivery (some will even let you order the particular make/model you want).

Ain't capitalism grand. [tt]

Re:Not just developing countries (5, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606799)

Some will even sell you the one you lost last week. I've seen the program before. It's great.

Re:Not just developing countries (1)

RicJohnson (649243) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606679)

I would buy it just to try Linux
But can this be real? I mean the LCD screen must be Black and White to sell for less than $100.
I do not know if this would be worth it (I would NEVER buy a Celeron), but the $100 price point is hard to ignore. I could get one for my Mom just so she could start using a computer, but if it costs me hours to fix, it may cost too much after all.

Re:Not just developing countries (3, Informative)

KronicD (568558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606773)

The article says that the device has to use a rear projection based display rather than a traditional LCD in order to keep costs low enough.

Re:Not just developing countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606700)

No way! In the first world the big names will stop cheap laptops with DRMs, Homeland security violations, untrusted computing regulations (who can trust a US$100 notebook??) and other legal BS that they will come up with.

Re:Not just developing countries (3, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606715)

They may have to control how they're sold/distributed to keep the developed world from snapping them all up

Why? If they sold well, you increase the volume produced, and the cost per unit decreases.

While you would certainly want to regulate how many are sold in what market, assuming you design it once, and design it right, mass production is your friend.

One item I think that should be introduced for portable, that would REALLY help the developing world, is repairability. There is no earthly reason why you can't design a laptop with an interchangable screen. And how about a standard battery connection system and package?

These are all things that would be impossible to market to the developed world, but would be essential to the developing world. They simply don't buy into the idea that you throw something that costs many times their yearly wages away after 2 years.

Education (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606764)

A can't believe that people in this country aren't developing an ebook like computer for the education market. Something along the lines of Apple's old laptop-like Newton, or Psion's NetBook would be examples of good platforms. These things would weigh less than 50 lbs of books...

But....but (-1, Offtopic)

christurkel (520220) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606570)

Does it run Solaris? :)

Re:But....but (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606619)

At least they won't have to worry about running Windows and having to put 13 patches into it today like Windows users: p [] here's what they'll see
Thank you for your interest in Windows Update

Windows Update is the online extension of Windows that helps you get the most out of your computer.

You must be running a Microsoft Windows operating system in order to use Windows Update.
Ah, I can breathe easier ... my system doesn't need to be patched.

Re:But....but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606717)

At least they won't have to worry about running Windows and having to put 13 patches into it today like Windows users:

The patches are still not available, as of 10:56 EST.

Sub 100 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606573)


But the questions is... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606574)

Does it run Linux?

OS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606578)

it would be great if it only ran windows

Hmmm. (0)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606583)

"from the no-extras-like-disk-drives-and-batteries dept."

Or display.

Re:Hmmm. (-1, Offtopic)

servognome (738846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606682)

I already have a laptop like that, it's called an abacus.

Re:Hmmm. (2, Interesting)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606698)

Well, they're going for $20 for the display, and it'll be a rear-projection screen.

I think that if they use ARM or maybe even Geode x86 CPUs, they can get it under $100. $20 display, $10-20 CPU, $10-20 RAM, $10-20 flash memory (or HDD), which leaves $20-50 for the case, keyboard, and mouse.

Quality? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606584)

The question is what kind of quality will these machines be? As far as I know, $100 does not get you a lot of high quality computer components.

Re:Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606627)

A cell phone has all the processing power they need. Think system on a chip, not your standard motherboard/cpu/gpu/chipset setup.

Quality? (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606629)

"$100 does not get you a lot of high quality computer components"

So, is that 350 mhz Toshiba laptop on eBay for ~ $100 low quality? Of course not. It is old and slow, but the quality is not low.

Re:Quality? (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606701)

If it's an old Toshiba laptop, the quality IS low. I've never had more problems with a brand-name laptop than I've had with toshibas, both tecras and satellites. Meanwhile, an old laptop which actually has some quality is usually more than $100, even at 350 MHz. Hell, a year or so ago I sold a K6/2-433 compaq laptop with 192MB for $450 (with a targus laptop backpack with a cisco logo on it, though.) The Presario 1692 NEVER gave me any trouble, was just fast enough to play DVDs, and had a fairly nice display. I prefer it to the Tecra 8000 I had when I worked for Cisco, which died (started overheating immediately) and was replaced by another laptop of the same model, that had crash problems that didn't appear to be thermal. Never did figure out what was wrong with that thing. I ended up just going back to a desktop and running up and down stairs when I needed to troubleshoot.

Re:Quality? (2, Insightful)

robertjw (728654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606650)

Hopefully the "quality" of the components will be good. I wouldn't anticipate that the machines would be fast or powerful, but they better be rugged and dependable if they are going to ship to third-world countries. It will be a wasted effort if the machines are just broken all of the time.

new saying (3, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606586)

It takes a network of laptops to raise a child.

Re:new saying (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606676)

I assume that like me you think they might be missing the point. Where's the electrical power going to come from for these. Should THAT not be the priority? It all seems a bit jackass to me ! Still though. their heart is in the right place. I hope it helps!

Old news (1)

GatesGhost (850912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606589)

wasnt this already reported last week? anyway, i wouldnt mind a sub 100$ laptop here. heck, schools should offer their students these laptops.

Re:Old news (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606603)

Yes, once again, the "editors" ignored their subscribers who reported this as a dupe.

Run's Linux? (2, Funny)

Rollie Hawk (831376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606598)

Isn't it more a matter of Linux running on it? Well, at least you worked a Linux reference into your submission, just as I did in my comment.

Re:Run's Linux? (2, Funny)

g0at (135364) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606749)

Who is Run, and why does he think it's his Linux?


Re:Run's Linux? (1)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606751)

For god's sake, you can boot linux on a toaster oven. What I'm interested in is what software do they plan to distribute with it.

But, but, but... (-1, Troll)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606600)

Yes, it does run Linux.

...does i[tt] run BSD from beyond the grave??? ;P

Re:But, but, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606677)

Windows would be better

Imagine... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606601)

...a BEOWULF cluster of these.

About as powerul as a good graphing alculator these days? Sounds right.

Display? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606606)

Will it have CRT or what?

Re: Display? (3, Funny)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606746)

Will it have CRT or what?

Sure, picture tube built in. Very portable, only 8 kilograms, and a couple of cubic feet in size. That makes sense.

Re:Display? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606756)

Rear-projection. Don't know if that means CRT, LCD, or maybe even DLP.

They have them on eBay (3, Interesting)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606607)

I recently bought a laptop on eBay for $109, + $17 shipping.

Toshiba K6-2 350MHZ, 48MB RAM, 3.6GB HD, 12.1 TFT screen. Nice shape and it runs Damn Small Linux quite well. I actually loaded Slackware 9 on it for kicks and it ran pretty well using Fluxbox.

Re:They have them on eBay (2, Informative)

NotFamous (827147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606639)

I bought a PII-266 Compaq Armada with 128MB Ram and a 3.8 GB HD on Ebay and I'm running Mandrake on it. It cost $99.95 (including shipping). It's my sub-100 laptop and it works just fine, thnak you.

Like a textbook... (2, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606612)

He said the child could use the laptop like a text book.

As in, fall asleep and drool on it?

A laptop keyboard isn't nearly as pillowesque as, say, the cushy, thick pages of a physics book.

Error in TFA? (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606614)

From TFA:
"The second trick is to get rid of the fat , if you can skinny it down you can gain speed and the ability to use smaller processors and slower memory."
Um, why is using slower memory a GOOD thing? Esp. if these people are going to be using it like a textbook, it's going to be much more memory intensive than CPU intensive......

Re:Error in TFA? (3, Informative)

yotto (590067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606643)

Um, why is using slower memory a GOOD thing?
Because it's cheaper? Cheaper is better when you're trying to reach a certain price-point.

Reduced costs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606731)

The idea is that slower memory is cheaper. You get other advantages by going slower. A motherboard with a low fsb speed is WAY easier to design and build (perhaps locally). A slower clock speed means less battery consumption. That means you can use cheaper batteries.

A simple computer with Win 3.1 used to run everything I needed. You should almost be able to implement such a computer on one chip these days.

The thing I think will be a challenge is the $20 display.

Re:Error in TFA? (1)

lobsterGun (415085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606734)

For applications like an ebook, memory speed isn't really all that important.

People aren't going to be consuming the data at a rate where memory speed is going to come into the play.

Re:Error in TFA? (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606801)

Remember that modern machines are, essentially, supercomputers. It's easy to forget that a machine with 1% of the power, running software designed to have that much power, can still blaze, and Linux still all has the software from that era.

In fact, if someone puts a bit of work into it, these laptops may have a higher subjective speed than a brand-new laptop would right now. Of course, you too could have that blazing speed if you worked purely in a console, but most of us don't want to work that way.

Using slower memory and even a massively slower processor isn't necessarily a problem. I remember using a 486/33, the first IBM I ever had, and the only thing that slowed that thing down was Windows 3.1. Nowadays I'd expect a 200-ish MHz Pentium level to be nearly free in volume discount, and I had a similar class machine screaming for a good long time. If you stick to the console, it's quite usable and capable at 64MB of relatively slow ram. (I don't know if they can work in 128 at this price point, and in the other direction, 32MB would be fine but the textbook display apps might have to be custom-written and/or customized to fit in that space; you sure aren't going to load X + Adobe Acrobat into that space.)

Re:Error in TFA? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606826)

A link that other pople have failed to draw: slower = cheaper; cheaper means you can put more in. I'd rather have 512MB of FPM DRAM than 128MB of DDR533, for example.

Re:Error in TFA? (4, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606843)

Smaller processors (with slower memory busses) don't require cooling fans, even in tropical climates.

If you have ever worked in a factory or with a piece of remote instrumentation, cooling fans are the bane of your existance. They die quietly, and next thing you know you have random crashes, or worse, damaged components. And they have a great way of sucking dust, dirt, and other undesirables into the inner workings of the machine.

Plus, you save on the cost of the fan, the cost of the connector for the fan, the cost of the holes in the PCB to run the pins to supply the fan, and can chop that much more power off the requirements for the supply. You also have one less part that needs to be assembled onto the final product.

All of that can add up to a few hundred thousand dollars of savings over a production run of a few million computers.

And for the record, a textbook program is NOT all that CPU intensive. There is not rule that says you can't scale the format to the capabilities of the machine.

Only selling them to governments (5, Funny)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606616)

I heard that they are only going to sell them to governments.

So it will be a day or two's delay until you can grab one off eBay.

p-p-p-powerbook (2, Funny)

EvilAlien (133134) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606622)

I wonder if it is going to be something like the p-p-p-powerbook [] ?

Picture (0)

justforaday (560408) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606626)

Picture available here [] .

cellphone.. (2, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606648)


bam - sub 100$ computer.

More pressing needs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606649)

Why do people keep pushing for technology everywhere? It has been said here before that these people frequently do not have food, shelter, medical facilities, etc. They need the basics to survive first.

Re:More pressing needs (4, Insightful)

fwitness (195565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606729)

This gets brought up a lot. Yes, those people have more pressing, more basic needs. But if you can offer them *information* which is a good commodity. The best example I heard is the the farmer who would normally take his wares to the market and haggle price. Now he can use the internet to check other local prices, and decide whether or not the trip is even worth it (and for large amounts of items, and long trips, this isn non-trivial to farmers).

People in 3rd world countries have 'basic' needs, but they also realize that there are some tools worth having. If a computer is going to cost you 5 years of income, then it's not an issue. But if you can get one relatively cheap, access to information can be extremely valuable.

GET YOUR OWN $100 LAPTOP TODAY!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606653)

Costs too much (-1, Troll)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606664)

Can't I get this for free just by clicking on the monkey in the ad banner? Along with an iPod and a Vegas vacation?

developed countries.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606655)

would this include Florida?

Re:developed countries.... (0)

rokka (631038) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606842)

Nah, but only because Florida isnt a country...

yay for linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606666)

Atleast they are introducing Linux to deveopling countries :P

Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (2, Insightful)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606667)

Because a laptop is gonna fill a hungry stomach. For areas that are truly poor and need better education doesn't it seem a little over-the-top to give them laptops. How about sticking with regular old books (which are hard enough to teach without having to teach how to use a laptop on top of that) and using any extra money for things like oh... food, medicine, housing development, water treatment, agriculture, etc, etc, etc...

Re:Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (1)

harks (534599) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606804)

I know they have those "paperback international editions" of textbooks, but in the US, you'd be hard pressed to find a major textbook for less than $100. And this laptop could contain several books.

Re:Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (1)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606810)

books have a limited number of pages on them. once they are read, their knowledge ends. A laptop, however, can have it's knowledge replenished.

Also, education is much more than just reading what's in a book. Being able to view pictures, videos, up-to-date maps, and other media is a large educational benefit.

Re:Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (2, Interesting)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606813)

You're right, of course. Let's abandon their education. They don't need things like literacy or math... they don't need any sort of help that would let them help themselves. It's far far better if we, as the benevolent haves, are the only supply for handouts to the have-nots. And if they get uppity, we can always cut off their food supply - I mean, it's ours to control, right?

Yes... far better to leave them in a third world existence without any chance to accelerate their technology. We certainly don't want scientists or mathematicians... no engineers from *those* kinds of places... why, it might upset the way things are.

Evan "Drip, drip, went the sarcasm"

Re:Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606824)

plus books don't need batteries either, kind of hard to re-charge a battery when living in a tent or mudbrick house without electricity...

Re:Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606831)

Or, I know, you could give them computers, which will help them manage their agriculture which will help them feed their people. Teaching a man to fish and all that.

Seriously, why is it always "treat the immediate symptoms, but anything that might improve the situation long-term isn't helping?"

Computers can help the local governments become more effective which would, hopefully, help them offer better services and better planning to improve the food situation.

But that would involve a long-term view, and as we all know, only the short-term matters.

Re:Laptops..Hmmmm Tasty (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606834)

How about we put the laptop factory right where these people need jobs so they can eat and get educated?

Good Idea, But (1)

Dagny Taggert (785517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606673)

The technical details are a littel to sketchy. Slower processor and memory? Gotcha. But who supplies them? Rear-projection screen. Check. But can you make it thin enough so a child can carry it? And who will do the R&D? An earlier poster mentioned first-world appeal. Amen. Sell a sexier version in developed nations for, say, $200US and then see where this thing can go in the third world.

Sub-$100 Laptop (-1)

News for nerds (448130) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606689)

...bundled with a nuclear power plant to generate necessary electricity.

Why only for 'developing' countries? (1)

akadruid (606405) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606690)

I don't understand why these hyper-cheap hardware soloutions are only planned for the developing world. There are still huge price-limited markets in the developed world for hardware, which could potentially create still lower costs for the developing world.

£47 is still a lot of money in China, but in the US and Europe people routinely spend more than that on keyboards and mice. There are untold applications for $100 laptops here still.

Launch the $100 laptop here too, and then by 2010, you can be launching the $50 laptop too.

Stripped-down? (1)

k96822 (838564) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606702)

Since it is running Linux, and you can get great software like OpenOffice, Gimp, FireFox, for free, is it really stripped-down?

Re:Stripped-down? (1)

Trolling4Columbine (679367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606788)

Just try running OpenOffice or Gimp on a hardware-challenged laptop.

Yes, these really are stripped down.

Profit ! (3, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606704)

1. Distribute cheap Linux-based laptops to 2 billion indigent Asians
2. Extort $699 Linux license fee from each user
3. Profit!

Not again (-1, Offtopic)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606705)

This is a dupe. Not just a duplicate of another Slashdot frontpage story, but the subject of a trick or a swindle [] . Not that Every single statement is wrong, usually ludicrous, not just in hindsight, but evident at the time. Proof of his power to co-opt is his new project appearing twice on the Slashdot homepage. He's a zeitgeistnapper!

The real question... (2, Insightful)

3point1415927 (838110) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606708) how children in these countries will gain access to all of the other things you need to make a laptop into a real tool for learning (and while whether stuff like a printer and shiny pre-packaged educational software may or may not be necessary, I think we can all agree that they would at least need an internet connection, and some software that may not be available as freeware). While this is a great idea, I wonder whether he also has plans to set up a free or low-cost ISP in these areas. Or, barring that, I wonder whether these laptops will have CD-RW or floppy drives, and if so, whether the school will be provided with blank disks/CDs. You also have to wonder whether there's some way to provide teachers/parents in these areas with some sort of computer education, both so that they can utilise the computers intelligently in the classroom, and so that they can teach the children basic skills as well. I guess my point is: while this is a beautiful idea in theory, I wonder if it will have much effect without lots of additional support behind it.

Hmm... (2, Insightful)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606720)

I sincerely hope the plan is not to outfit each student with one of these ridiculous things. Certainly I learned how to do everything without a computer, and had the honor of seeing computers/internet introduced into the classroom gradually through my education and can tell you that for the most part, they didn't do much.

Most of the uses were for Power Point slides and other useless replacements of existing technology: a blackboard, an eraser, chalk, paper, pencil, etc. It has made research a lot easier, but not necessarily better. You can find stuff faster but is the time savings used to put together more convincing arguments or properly written materials?

I think the $100 laptop is a good idea for schools to have in small numbers, say 1 per classroom at most. If it were up to me I wouldn't have any computers in school outside of a designated "computer lab" as I think they interfere with learning. They are a tool, but they are mostly applied the incorrect way.

I would hope that for the severely impoverished we would worry about other things first, then the laptop. Although certainly it is worthwhile* $100 can buy a lot of books and learning materials.

Negroponte says: "In China they spend $17 per child per year on textbooks. That's for five or six years, so if we can distribute and sell laptops in quantities of one million or more to ministries of education that's cheaper and the marketing overheads go away."

Laptops certainly will have information more current, but laptops also need to be replaced every five or six years, or even less. A broken laptop is more expensive to fix than a broken book.

I would say a better solution is to give each classroom a laptop, say, for every five kids. Then one kid can take it home each night and use it if they wish. But back to my original point, the teacher is the best tool, not the laptop.

* I say worthwhile because the developing world can use more cheap tech. Read "Africa Rising [] " or look at Ubuntu [] for example.

Disposal? Pollution? (2, Insightful)

ek-1000-ek (701465) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606737)

What about that?

[ot] comp sci question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606739)

Given a sorted (ascending) array of integers, how can you find out whether a given integer is in that array (in the most efficient way)? The loop shouldn't run longer than necessary and can't use break or return... Thanks for any help.

Re:[ot] comp sci question (1)

erich.keane (823495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606845)

int i=0;
bool found=false;
while(i<array.length && givenint<array[i])
fou nd=true;

cout<<"This was found, yay!";
cout<<"Not in the array";

I don't think they need these in Africa (4, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606755)

From looking at my inbox, Nigeria is populated by thousands of princes worth tens of millions of dollars each.

Whats a "deveop" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11606770)

Is it a new distro ?

movie tickets (2, Funny)

PoopJuggler (688445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606781)

In a few years I think we will be seeing stories about the miraculous sub-$100 movie ticket

Meanwhile, on eBay (5, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606800)

Looking at old PowerBooks (Pre-PowerPC), you can get several color screen PowerBooks for under $50. Many have a built in modem or Ethernet, you can run Adobe Acrobat to handle PDF's and it will also support Internet Explorer for web stuff. I am sure there are comparable Windows laptops selling for the same price or less. IMHO, we really should be making an effort to use older computers with proven hardware/software first before manufacturing newer computers for people who have never owned them before.

Distributing Textbooks??? (2, Interesting)

jimbro2k (800351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606806)

I'm sure the textbook publishers will be happy to cooperate with this venture. Won't they?

Loaded with Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg? (2, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606808)

Do I dare to hope it will come preloaded with Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [] and the full collection of Project Gutenberg [] eBooks?

(I remember how intriguing it was when Steve Jobs premiered the NeXT with the American Heritage dictionary and the complete works of Shakespeare as standard equipment...)

computers for the Masses not the classes (3, Informative)

Danathar (267989) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606823)

I believe it was somebody from Commodore (or Atari) who said that (in subject line) back in the early 80's. At the time the primary display for home computers (since it was the C-64 and Atari's...and Apples) were composite monitors and TV's. It's what everybody had.

You could...and they did build computers that were at the sweet spot of $200 bucks. People forget that Commodore sold MILLIONS of Vic-20's and C-64's

With High def capable TV's being sold (even without an HDTV tuner) and HDMI and DVI connectors on them it seems that you could do this again. Make a $200 (or less) computer with a keyboard and mouse (or maybee track pad) attached or built into it and connect it via HDMI to to a high def capable tv (HDMI also includes sound).

The manufacturer that comes out with a device like this could sell A LOT of these devices!

And a book costs how much power to run? (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606825)

It sounds like a great idea, but how are these things going to be powered in developing countries? Electric generation is at a premium, when it's up, and a laptop is just going to suck that much more down.

Books can be read by candlelight or anywhere away from a power source and for more than 3 hours!

(Never mind the fact that, when you need to, they become a nice heating source! What do you do with a dead laptop?)

As an IT Director in education (5, Interesting)

TeeJS (618313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606828)

I have to admit that I currently hate laptops. Part of it is that they are expensive and fragile, but mainly because when someone can carry a computer about with them, it becomes "MINE" - they assume they can do whatever they want with it. I could envision using these as a mobile lab or textbook running off of a LTSP type host, but otherwise I'd be afraid at the upkeep time needed for them - even running Linux!

Pros & Cons (1)

djblair (464047) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606839)

I don't see how a laptop could ever replace hard-copy textbooks. Firstly, ink and paper is much easier on the eyes than text on a screen. Secondly, I am constantly flipping back and forth in the book, highlighting, and taking notes in the margin. I'll even print my digital downloads for this exact purpose. While certain software allows for note taking and bookmaking, etc., it is hardly a substitute for the simplicity and flexibility of good old analog pen and paper. Also, I've yet to have a book crash on me and lose all its contents. Linux or not, I wouldn't trust my extensive tech book library to a sub-$100 laptop.

This proposed system does present some unique advantages though. Firstly, text will be much cheaper to distribute, though some sort of minimally intrusive DRM will need to be developed to protect the rights of the author. Secondly, text will be available more quickly as the printing process is eliminated. You could also receive corrections and revision updates online. This would be especially useful in technical writing, as new editions often contain important changes to reflect the latest software.

Diamond Age? (3, Interesting)

laxian (174575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11606840)

Did anyone else get a "Diamond Age" vibe when they thought about huge numbers of Chinese kids with laptops?
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