Around this time, back in 2007, you may recall me freaking out about the new XO-1 laptop from OLPC I was waiting for. OLPC is the name of a non-profit that was created in order to design a laptop computer so cheaply that 3rd World governments would want to buy One Laptop Per Child in their country--get it? OLPC. Their plan initially was to make a laptop that would cost $100, which they'd then charge $100 for. I know--zero mark-up, these guys must be COMMIES! ;)

Sadly, they didn't quite make their target price, but $200 for a netbook as full featured, as this thing is, still ain't bad. Last year, OLPC announced a program called "Give 1 Get 1" or G1G1 and it allowed Americans to buy two OLPC XO laptops--they would get one, and the other would go to a kid in a 3rd-world country. Pretty cool, huh? So, naturally, since it was mixing gadgets with philantrhopy (and the XO is a great little piece of hardware) I had to support it.

Today, the program returns via Check out to order now!

But you may be wondering just what the heck some poor kid in a village is going to do with a laptop? The answer is easy: learn.

The XO's onboard OS, called SugarOS, comes with a bunch of great educational applications (called "activities") that help kids learn about all sorts of things, from math, to music, to more. If the village has a single computer with Internet access, every XO in the village can access the same connection and can even share Internet connections amongst each other XO thanks to Mesh networking technology. Mesh allows each XO to connect and each XO user to share activities to encourage kids to work together (up to a kilometer away!).

But a laptop in the middle of the 3rd World?

The XO has a huge battery lifespan--one charge gives it about twice as long a run as my MacBook gets on it's battery. Part of this lifespan jump is thanks to the XO's dual mode laptop display which allows you to switch from back-lit-color to straight black & white with just a button-press. The B&W mode is perfect for outdoor settings. No moving parts also allows the XO to use less energy. Its case is durable and practical (it even has a handle) and is generally spill and dust proof. I know, I have one.

My only gripe about the XO is the OS. While I understand creating a non-windows, non-Windows-based lappie for kids (we want them to use computers in a positive way), I do feel that the OS limits the kids on how much they can do. While the laptop's processor surpasses that of my old, 1998 Toshiba Satellite's, I was not able to work on my novel and research on the web simultaneously on the XO. This is something I did every day for a year-straight on my Satellite. The good news is that it is possible to run Linux (and even Windows XP--though you wouldn't want to) on the XO. It alows you to pack a bit more punch and take a bit more advantage of the RAM. Of course, I say this as a computer-geek-extraordinaire--not as a kid in a third world country. Speaking of which, 3rd World kids seem to enjoy the XO just fine.

Why not drop $400 and let another kid get one?

Or get it at my Amazon store here:

Either way, any computer is going to beat the computer most of these kids are going to get. Make a difference and own the laptop that invented the netbook.

Posted by email from thepete's posterous