OLPC announces next-gen XO-2 $75 Laptop

OLPC's next-gen touch-screen laptop, nearly half the size of current XO notebook, is slated to be built by 2010

The nonprofit One Laptop Per Child Project has shown the first images of its next-generation touch-screen laptop that goes by the name XO-2. According to Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of OLPC, the laptop is under development and has a goal of costing US$75. Negroponte showed off images of the XO-2 at an OLPC event here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He says the first XO-2 is slated to be built by 2010.

The laptop is nearly half the size of current XO notebook and consists of two touch-screen displays. The notebook does not include a keyboard, but instead will feature a software-based touch-sensitive keyboard.

Negroponte explained that the XO-2 is meant to be shaped like a book and will be first promoted as an e-book to developing nations.

"The XO-2 will be a bit of a Trojan horse," he explained. He said the XO-2 will be pushed first as an e-book reader with the capacity of holding over 500 e-books. "Currently developing nations such as China and Brazil are spending US$19 per student per year on books," Negroponte said. Investing in the XO-2 at US$75 should be an easy decision for these countries, he added. But Negroponte pointed out, the XO-2 is much more than a e-book and is a fully functional laptop.

Details were scant on how OLPC hoped to hit the $US75 per XO-2 price point. Negroponte did however say substantial savings would be seen in the screen technology. That's because the screens used for the XO-2 would take advantage of an anticipated high demand and low prices of portable DVD displays manufactured before and after 2010.

The current cost to manufacture one XO notebook is $188, according to OLPC.

"We are aggressively working to lower the cost, power, and size of the XO laptop so that it is more affordable and usable by the world's poorest children," Negroponte said.

Also high in hype and little in substance was information about the OLPC using a light version of Microsoft Windows operating system. Negroponte would only confirm that it is testing a version of Windows running on the XO laptop. He also said a dual-boot XO laptop that will run Windows and Linux is in the works.

OLPC also said it will start up again its popular Give One, Get One (G1G1) laptop program. The program is expected to be available in August or September to US citizens and for the first time in Europe. Despite delivery hassles, Negroponte said, the G1G1 program was an enormous success.

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