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OLPC Unveils New Sub $100 Third Generation Laptop

Gordon Kelly


OLPC Unveils New Fantastical Sub $100 Tablet

Let's get this straight: we're not sure the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project exists on the same planet as you and I. In fact I suspect it may have just been kicked out of Super Optimistic Land for being irresponsibly enthusiastic - and this is the reason...

The nonprofit organisation has unveiled the 'XO 3.0' - a wildly ambitious tablet which leaps head first into 'We've gone a bit mad' territory.

For a start, virtually no information was given about the XO 3.0 other than "It will feature a new design using a single sheet of flexible plastic and will be unbreakable and without holes in it." On top of this it will use a Via CPU, use a small solid state drive and the traditional Linux-based custom OLPC OS. The price? Everyone should get their hopes up, since OLPC plans to sell it in 2012 for "well below $100" (£62).

Furthermore - and most pertinently, so pay attention here - the XO 3.0 is never going to happen.

I feel mean busting bubbles here, particularly when OLPC has such good intentions and clearly wants to do the best it possibly can for children of impoverished countries. That said, a reality check is needed because if Apple pulled out the XO 3.0 as its long awaited and circa £600 tablet I'd be utterly thrilled.

This is not a $100 machine, this is vapourware napalm. The XO 3.0 is too thin, too elegant, too beautifully sketched out to be anything other than the fantasies of a deluded fanboy. Clues? OLPC says the XO 3.0 will "leapfrog the previously announced XO 2.0, a two-page approach that will not be continued." Remember the stunning XO 2.0? A dual screen super netbook which would run on just one watt of power? That was dumped in November, while even the original XO has never come remotely close to its $100 target price.

I'm sorry, it is time for an intervention.

Dear OLPC, we love you, we respect your aims, we only want the very best for you and your future endeavours, but right now you're only hurting yourself and your credibility. We've seen a worrying change in you. What you are doing right now is not who you want to be, this continued Photoshop fantasy crap is damaging your reputation and alienating your friends (and potential business partners) and we have to step in. We need you to come back from the brink. Tablets that look like props from Star Trek will not cost less than Modern Warfare 2 in 12 months time. Such rantings make you sound like a crazy person. But we can help. *Gestures to orderlies* These people can help you. We're sending you to a nice place where you can get well again. *Sends in orderlies armed with tasers* This is for your own good...


OLPC Homepage


December 24, 2009, 1:46 pm

here here. What the third world do not need is a stunning piece of vaporware, they need a decent education, politions who aren't corrupt, a decent Health system, and available jobs. er, hold on, don't we need that too?


December 24, 2009, 2:27 pm

I couldn't agree more. The XO 4.0 will probably have a 12 month battery life, be able to fold up into our pocket and cost only $50! They are deluding themselves.


December 24, 2009, 2:55 pm

Gordon, while you're most probably right this will never happen, I personally don't think it's beyond reasonable (insane?) providing OLPC can make IP rights holders for the technology used in this design drop any royalties on them. While that might never happen, manufacturing costs and materials used can easily be well below the mark, leaving some for distribution costs.

I do like the design, tho. That "O ring" on top edge can also serve as a Wi-Fi antenna, that "blue plus" on the back can act as a heat spreader for a low voltage processor like VIAs and a protection plate for some sort of non-volatile memory system (probably Flash?), and most of the rest of electronics can be directly printed on polymers used to produce touch-screen OLED panel.

If OLPC is able to screw with technical aspects of the device to the point no tech savvy person would ever want one and it won't be available on any markets IP holders care much about, they might even get a few thousand units out. Of course, those kids they say they target their needs will, sadly, never get to see a device like this, let alone have any use for it. Remember, we're talking about children that never get visited by Santa, poor souls. As for OLPC, they're just vultures playing the good ol' charity song on us all. I mean, how kind is it giving someone that's starving and thirsty on daily basis a device like this?

Marry Christmas (and don't forget to make an act of kindness a day, no matter what day it is)!

Mike Brown

December 24, 2009, 3:09 pm

Can you spell De Lorean sports car?


December 24, 2009, 9:25 pm

I doubt you could call this "We've gone a bit mad". More like "We've gone stark raving mad".

If the Nokia N900 falls below $100 in 2012, I might say that there's a possibility there. But then, clearly the N900 is unlikely to fall below $100... (If it did, it's price would have fallen by 9 times. Which has never happened to any product, AFAIK.)


December 29, 2009, 4:42 pm

*Spelling error* 3rd paragraph "Everyone should get THERE hopes up"

other than that, good article. OLPC is just getting ridiculous.

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