June 14, 2010

One Laptop Per Child Announces New Updated Laptop

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization is updating its computers in order to be used by secondary school children.

The machines are based on the original XO laptop, which was built for primary school children.

The new computers feature a larger keyboard and upgraded software.

Uruguay has ordered 90,000 of the new laptops, known as XO-HS.  The country has already distributed nearly 400,000 XO laptops to primary schools.

It also ordered 10,000 computers designed by Intel, which makes the Classmate PC, also developed for children.

"We want to see how students react and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each," said Miguel Brechner, director of the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay, who is in charge of the country's Plan Ceibal (Education Connect) project.

The government scheme has given many people their first taste of computers and the Internet in the country.

It has delivered 380,000 XO laptops to primary school students and about 20,000 to teachers.

"Uruguay is the only deployment that is complete," Kalil Nicolas of the OLPC Association, told BBC News. "They have full saturation of their primary schools."

The 90,000 XO-HS machines will be given to about 230,000 of Uruguay's high school students.

"We are expanding our reach," said Nicolas. "We still want to focus on 6-12 year olds - and motivate them - but they need a laptop to grow into."

The new laptops are set to begin delivery in September of this year.

Nicolas said they would also be offered to other countries interested in connecting high-school students.

He said that 1.2 million of the original laptops had been deployed so far and OLPC was contracted to supply another 500,000.  Each laptop ordered by Uruguay costs $209.

The new XO-HS laptops will be based on the same design as the original, but tweaked to appeal more to older children.

It will feature a larger keyboard and offer different colors.

The project has chosen to use Linux operating system.

OLPC Founder Nichols Negroponte recently announced earlier this year a partnership with chip-maker Marvell to design a touchscreen tablet computer.

Negroponte said the device could cost as little as $75.  It would comprise of Wi-Fi, high-quality video and still cameras, 3D graphics and lower power consumption.  It could be launched as early as 2011.


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