CNET Reviews One Laptop Per Child

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 1/22/2008 09:02:00 PM
Now that the One Laptop Per Child XO-1 should soon be commercially available under the Give 1, Get 1 scheme, the folks over at CNET have given it a rundown. It earned a score of 7.5 or "Very Good." Currently running is this soap opera [1, 2, 3] of Intel withdrawing from the OLPC project's board of directors over the OLPC folks supposedly wanting Intel to discontinue selling its low-cost Intel Classmate model. True or not? Regardless of that saga's outcome, favorable reviews like CNET's should help make the OLPC a more commercially viable unit:

What is it: Ultraportable for children in developing countries

What we think: A superbly designed tool for learning that will appeal to geeks as well as kids

Most new computers are built from the latest components, with a healthy over-performance margin to allow for the demands of future software. Not the XO-1. A modest 433MHz processor has to handle operating system, software and graphics all on its own, with just 256MB of RAM to work with, and a mere 1GB of Flash memory storage.

A key feature is its wireless performance. Not only do you get full 802.11b/g functionality, but also 802.11s, which enables mesh networking -- even when powered down. Get within range of another XO-1 -- tested at over two kilometres in the Australian outback -- and you can piggyback on its Internet connection, swap files or enjoy multi-player gaming. There are dedicated buttons to pull up graphical maps of your local mesh 'group' and wider wireless neighbourhood.

Multimedia features are pretty good -- a built-in VGA webcam can capture video at up to 30fps, and the stereo speakers are loud, if tinny. The XO-1 also uses brand new battery tech -- lithium iron phosphate -- that promises to last the planned lifetime of the computer, an impressive five years.