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Posted by on Dec 23, 2009 in Science & Technology | 1 comment

OLPC XO-3 Tablet: The $75 Future Computer


Forbe’s Andy Greenberg spoke with One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) designer Yves Behar about an upgrade to the hundred-dollar laptop. Dubbed the XO-3 [photo gallery], it’s targeted for release in 2012:

“I wanted to bring the One Laptop Per Child identity to life in this new form,” says Yves Behar, founder of FuseProject, which designed the both the original and the XO-3. “That meant taking the visual complexity away, bringing tactility and friendliness, touch and color.”

Behar says he hopes to shrink the frame around the XO-3’s display down to practically nothing, opting for a virtual keyboard instead of a physical one, and no buttons. The result, in his mock-ups, is a screen surrounded by only a thin green rubber gasket. “Nicholas [Negroponte] asked for something extremely simple and practically frameless,” he says. “The media or content on the computer will be the prime visual element.”

More promise than likely reality, Negroponte has apparently learned from past travails. The original XO dazzled but came in at $172 and attracted competition from Microsoft and Intel, among others (including Sugar from a disgruntled former OLPC president). This time Negroponte is saying that’s the whole point:

Negroponte’s plan has a twist: As OLPC assembles the components for its dream machine, it plans to open the architecture of the device to allow any other PC maker to take over the project. Negroponte is more interested in pressuring the industry to make cheaper, more education-focused PCs than he is in manufacturing any specific machine. “We don’t necessarily need to build it,” Negroponte told Forbes. “We just need to threaten to build it.” […]

“Sure, if I were a commercial entity coming to you for investment, and I’d made the projections I had in the past, you wouldn’t invest again,” he says. “But we’re not a commercial operation. If we only achieve half of what we’re setting out to do, it could have very big consequences.”

So what we have is the non-profit, non-governmental sector spurring the private sector on to meet a need that it would otherwise ignore. In the meantime, Negroponte updates Endgadget on what to expect in the near term:

Nick says we’ll see the XO-1.5 appear in January for around $200 — an update to the current version. As we’d heard before, the 1.5 iteration will swap a VIA CPU for the current AMD one, and will double the speed as well as quadruple both the DRAM and Flash memory of the current version. Furthermore, he says that in early 2011 the XO-1.75 (replacing that psychotically awesome 2.0 dual screen model) will make its appearance, and will sport rubber bumpers on the outer casing, an 8.9-inch touchscreen display inside, and will run atop a Marvell ARM processor which will enable two times the speed at a quarter of the power usage. That version will sell for somewhere in the $175 range. Then, no 2.0… straight on to the XO-3.0!

The technological innovations continue.

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