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The XO-3 tablet concept promises a different vision of computing  (Source: OLPC)
Even poor kids need faster computing

Over the last five years, the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project has sought to develop and distribute a low-cost and rugged computer to children around the world in a bid to raise global standards of living. The non-profit organization successfully developed the XO-1, and has distributed over 1.4 million of the netbooks for less than $200 each.

“The first version of OLPC’s child-centric laptop, the XO, is a revolution in low-cost, low-power computing. The XO has been distributed to more than 1.4 million children in 35 countries and in 25 languages,” said Nicholas Negroponte, the founder and Chairman of One Laptop per Child.

Mass production of the XO-1 first started in November 2007. Computer technology has made significant advances over the last two years, and the XO-1 is getting long in the tooth. The XO-1 features an AMD Geode CPU running at 433MHz, 256MB of DDR DRAM, and 1GB of SLC NAND flash memory for storage. A 7.5-inch screen with a 1200x900 resolution is used. Wireless networking is enabled by a chip from Marvell, while a built-in camera, microphone, and speakers add functionality. A variety of battery choices are available. The XO-1 only uses 2W to run.

The OLPC project will introduce a new XO-1.5 in January 2010 using the same basic design. However, it will drop AMD in favor of a VIA C7-M Ultra Low Voltage CPU which will double operating speed. DRAM will be increased to 1GB, while 4GB of flash memory will be the standard, with an option for 8GB. It will be capable of running Windows and Linux, and is targeted for a $200 price.

Two other designs have been added to the OLPC roadmap. The XO-1.75 is currently targeted for the $150 mark and an early 2011 launch. The design will be updated, with rubber-bumpers on the outside for added shock protection. A new 8.9-inch touch-sensitive display will be used. The project is working with Marvell on integrating a new ARM processor that will double speeds while cutting power consumption by 75%. This ARM-based system will complement the x86-based XO-1.5, which will continue to remain in production to give deployments a choice of processor platform.

The XO-3.0 is being developed for 2012 at a target price of less than $100. It will feature a new tablet design using a single sheet of flexible plastic, and will supposedly be unbreakable. The XO 3.0 will leapfrog the XO-2.0, a concept approach that the OLPC project decide not to pursue.

“To fulfill our mission of reaching 500 million children in all remote corners of the planet, OLPC will continue to innovate in design and performance. Because we are a non-profit, we hope that industry will copy us,” Negroponte added.

The XO-1 helped to establish that low-cost netbooks could be functional and affordable, and helped push Intel into developing the Atom. Former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen left the project to form Pixel Qi, a fabless firm which designs and and markets energy-saving screens that are readable in daylight. There is no word yet on which OLPC netbooks will use the technology, but Pixel Qi just entered mass production of its first 10.1 screens for use with new Pine Trail netbooks, and its future screens  are rumored to be used in Apple's tablet computer.

Walter Bender's Sugar interface has also been spun off. Originally designed for the OLPC project,  it is now being developed by Sugar Labs and is available for free under a GNU General Public License.

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Ah! XO 2.0 dropped?
By Belard on 12/24/2009 2:05:57 AM , Rating: 2
But was a cool design too.

Two touch screens... one for keyboard, the other for the screen. And if you hold it like a book, the format changes to a book. Open it flat - and two kids can share it.

But thinking about it... its understandable. The added complexity ads costs and hardware failure possibilities. If/when the hinge wears out - it won't work like a "notebook" anymore... a very real point of failure.

Having a single tablet... it can work a lot better.

RE: Ah! XO 2.0 dropped?
By Mitch101 on 12/24/2009 9:14:34 AM , Rating: 2
Reading this makes me wonder why e-book readers cost so much.

RE: Ah! XO 2.0 dropped?
By UncleRufus on 12/24/2009 10:06:51 AM , Rating: 2
Because they can. They will milk all the money they can out of the early adopters. In 2 years you will buy them in walmart for $19.99 and they will display whatever format you want them to.

Honestly though I don't see how e-book readers can really take off. I've already read dozens of books on my smartphone. That screen only needs to get a little bigger (and the battery life a little longer) for me to never wish for an e-book reader. AND that's one less device I have to carry. My phone already took the place of my mp3 player and it's starting to take the place of my laptop.

RE: Ah! XO 2.0 dropped?
By Solandri on 12/24/2009 5:20:06 PM , Rating: 2
e-book readers almost all use e-Ink screens for long battery life. Those are relatively new and have a massive amount of R&D costs to recoup before they can be sold for pretty much manufacturing cost.

The OLPC tablet looks like it's going to use a regular LCD. Once upon a time those were incredibly expensive (I paid $850 for a second-hand 17" LCD back around 2000, which looking at today has really crappy contrast, refresh rate, and viewing angles). But they've long since recouped their original R&D costs and the manufacturers are now busy doing everything they can to cut manufacturing costs.

RE: Ah! XO 2.0 dropped?
By jdietz on 12/27/2009 12:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
They are lying about the price. Or if you're feeling charitable, "Making forward-looking statements." That is a 7" touch screen. How much does a 7" touch screen cost today? Answer: About $100. They are talking about developing some new display technology which may or may not pan out the way they want.

You can't really roll your own eBook reader (like you can a PC), can you? E-Readers need that E-Ink display which is pretty expensive.

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