While at CES 2007 a company named Marvell that’s involved with the wireless aspects of the One Laptop per Child project (OLPC) was showing off the little green machine at their booth. We took a look at this storied $150 laptop to be sold in poor areas of the world.
About the OLPC
For those unaware of what the OLPC project is, basically it’s a project driven by Nicholas Negroponte to develop a laptop that’s simple to use and very cheap to make in order to serve students in 3rd world countries or poor areas of more developed countries. The original goal was to develop a laptop that would cost about $100, but the target cost is now $150.
The children that would receive this laptop would be in the 7-13 year old range and in countries such as Cambodia. The OLPC laptop uses a crank to charge the battery since power is not readily available for charging laptops in some areas. The laptop also uses just flash memory (no standard hard drive), a low powered 500MHz processor from AMD and simple opearting system named "Sugar". While some aspects of this laptop are very basic, it does have some neat features built in such as wireless communication between devices so students and teachers can share and communicate in the classroom. Four USB ports are also very generous for this type of laptop I would say.
As you can tell by the pictures in the laptop it is of course made of plastic, but feels quite durable nonetheless. I’d worry about those antennas getting snapped off with the kids rough handling, but they’re not quite as flimsy as they look and are important to improving the wireless reception.. Plus it makes the laptop look somewhat friendly, being green and having antennas maybe kids would think of it as a benevolent alien. To be honest, it reminds me of something you would have seen in the old cartoon show The Jetsons.
The keyboard is kind of neat in the way it’s designed. It uses sort of a rubber overlay and there’s no gaps between keys so that sand, dirt or oreo crumbs (which I don’t believe they have in Cambodia anyway) won’t get into the keyboard area and ruin things.