OLPC low-power laptop empowers and inspires

2008 Green 15: XO's innovative ecofriendly design raises the bar for green computing while opening new opportunities for underprivileged children

Meeting green goals while staying true to its mission

Despite all these energy-efficient qualities, the XO never forgets that its primary user is a child. Therefore, the laptop's configurations include gaming as well as e-book reading and standard laptop usage. Each machine is also a full-time wireless router. Currently in its fourth iteration, it's not only highly durable but is intended to last at least five years.

More than 300,000 units of the XO have been delivered to seven countries to date -- Cambodia, Haiti, India, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, and Uruguay -- and they're poised to make a real difference in the lives of their recipients. In Peru, for example, where the primary education system was ranked last among 131 countries by the World Economic Forum, the delivery of 272,000 devices has revitalized the learning process. Children whose only options had previously been the agricultural lives their parents had known were suddenly excited about being videographers, lawyers, and musicians.

Approximately 200,000 more machines are scheduled for shipping soon. In Iraq's Muthanna Province, where officials decided to invest in education, children and teachers alike eagerly await the imminent arrival of some 200 laptops.

The OLPC did garner some criticism when the price of the system reached US$200 (with shipping) -- twice the original promise. OLPC project managers say the price of the XO should ultimately dip below US$100 when the machines can be mass-produced, thereby making them even more affordable to any educational system with budgetary constraints.

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Jill Terry

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