Left: Professor Nicholas Negroponte, a man behind the idea of a $100 laptop
Right: The laptop being tried out in a school in a developing country
I think this is such an inspired idea & I really hope it will be successful & spread though out the world. But it seems some people don't share this vision. The mega rich companies Microsoft & Intel are not 'convinced' that the project is good enough!
Microsoft's chairman, Bill Gates, has questioned the need for the Linux-based laptop and doubted the suitability of Negroponte's OLPC concept for the developing world.
Anyway, as I said I think this is a great idea & it's been piloted in a few schools around the world, so hopefully we'll see it in action soon.
$100 laptop founder saying he ignores the critisim
The laptop itself is designed specially for its purpose. It's lighter than a lunchbox, and about the size of a textbox. The stylus is huge, the keyboard is from rubber, and contains no toxic materials. You can charge the laptop not just by the mains, but by solar panels or by cranking it up. About one minute of cranking will give you about ten minutes of computer activity. It's designed to withstand wear and tear, so the machine's body is 2mm thick, which is more than the standard for laptops.
In order to keep this laptop as cheap as possible, and as close to the $100 target, the XO laptop is a lot different from ordinary desktops and laptops. This computer has no CD, DVD or even a hard drive. Instead, it uses a 1GB flash memory drive to run on, as well as a few USB slots in case of external data. It uses a 433mHz AMD processor, and only 256MB of SDRAM (memory).
The memory can be expanded using an SD memory card slot underneath the screen or by plugging in peripheral devices through the USB ports. Files can also be backed up on to a "school server" - a larger computer installed in a classroom - or via an online system provided by search giant Google.
The off-the-shelf processor is designed to be energy efficient. Unlike a standard chip, which remains active even when nothing changes on screen, the AMD processor is able to shut itself down, only waking when it is needed. It has an inbuilt graphics card.
Not only does the laptop support regular wireless network, but it also supports mesh network. This means you can turn on your computer and automatically see and connect to anyone who has a similar laptop. This would allow sharing documents, video conferencing (think of a teacher finally able to talk to illiterate parents face-to-face) and is extremely well suited for class (or village environment). Furthermore, if even one computer in the mesh connects to the internet, the rest can share that connection. The more laptops connected, the better the bandwidth.
The laptops are "a blessing from God", says Mrs Okonkwo, the school headteacher.