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Education Portables The Almighty Buck Hardware

OLPC Announces Buy-2-Get-1 XO Laptop Sale 360

Posted by Zonk
from the seems-like-a-fair-deal-to-me dept.
theodp writes "Starting November 12, The One Laptop Per Child Project will sell its affordable XO laptop to Americans for a brief period of time, but there's a slight catch: U.S. buyers must purchase two computers — one for their own child and one for a child in the developing world — for a total cost of $399. 'Staff members of the laptop project were concerned that American children might try the pared-down machines and find them lacking compared to their Apple, Hewlett-Packard or Dell laptops. Then, in this era of immediate global communications, they might post their criticisms on Web sites and blogs read around the world, damaging the reputation of the XO Laptop, the project staff worried. So the laptop project sponsored focus-group research with American children, ages 7 to 11, at the end of August. The results were reassuringly positive.'"
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OLPC Announces Buy-2-Get-1 XO Laptop Sale

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  • by skinfitz (564041) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:06AM (#20726417) Journal
    I thought this was the $100 laptop?

    If so, how is it buying two costs $399?

    Or are they Canadian dollars?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RuBLed (995686)
      You we're a little late [slashdot.org].

      Although it is still off by around $23.
    • by Poromenos1 (830658) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:14AM (#20726443) Homepage
      Didn't you hear? The "Canadian dollar" jokes were switched for "American dollar" jokes recently.
    • Or are they Canadian dollars?

      Isn't that the same?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by malaire (248775)
      The "$100 laptop" costs currently $188 USD (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/15/0332225 [slashdot.org]). And according to the XO Giving FAQ (http://www.xogiving.org/faq.html [xogiving.org]) "$200 dollars is the bundled price to donate an XO laptop computer. This price includes the shipping cost."
    • Re:$100+$100 = $399? (Score:5, Informative)

      by this great guy (922511) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:44AM (#20726617)

      I thought this was the $100 laptop?

      You thought wrong. The laptop is now known as the XO-1 laptop (they have not been able to maintain the price within the original estimation, it is today priced at $188).

      As a side note, IMHO the software development and integration efforts that are happening on the OLPC project are fantastic. All the companies involved in this project are providing their best engineers: Marvell (who made the wireless chip) have their guys developing the firmware often directly according to the feedback they get from the kernel developers, Red Hat is providing plenty of sw engineers (including Marcelo Tosati, who was the 2.4 kernel maintainer!), AMD and Quanta are working on the hardware platform (recently they made efforts to track the power consumption of every single chip in the laptop), etc. This is just incredible how fast the teams are able to progress in such a cooperative environment. This is a sharp contrast with what happens too often in the ordinary Linux world where cooperation is sometimes difficult or inexistent (e.g. kernel developers unable to obtain hardware specs, or hardware vendors attempting to provide some crappy binary drivers without involving the kernel community, etc).

      I certainly expect a very high quality product to come out of this project, both on the hardware level and software level. Every single piece of chip or software has been optimized and fine-tuned to make the whole platform work as best as it can. This is going to be one of the best Linux laptop ever made. Just read their weekly updated news page to get a brief understanding of the technical achievements made possible in such an ultra-cooperative environment: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/News [laptop.org]

      • by rbanffy (584143)
        "This is just incredible how fast the teams are able to progress in such a cooperative environment"

        Not only that, but, since it's open source, other projects can also benefit from what is being developed and invented for it. Also, several of the enhancements made to the kernel also stand to benefit current laptop users, making them faster and their batteries last longer.

        Hopefully, it will also point the way for other hardware makers to work in closer cooperation instead of giving in to Microsoft's threats (
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jsight (8987)

        You thought wrong. The laptop is now known as the XO-1 laptop (they have not been able to maintain the price within the original estimation, it is today priced at $188).


        The sad thing is that their homepage [laptop.org] still proudly lists the price as $100 in the title.
    • by ultranova (717540) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:43AM (#20726961)

      I thought this was the $100 laptop?

      If so, how is it buying two costs $399?

      Because they are built around old Pentium processors. It's just a little rounding error, nothing to be upset about.

      In other news, several telecom companies have offered to by old Pentiums for their billing systems.

    • by bl8n8r (649187)
      Feature creep and inflation. The product has been in the works for several years since the $100 target was originally sought after. They hope the price will go down when volume sales go up.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      In a few weeks they will rename the project "The One Hundred Euros Laptop"
    • by colmore (56499)
      Our currencies became equal on Sept. 20th [x-rates.com]


      Canadian currency jokes now end. Of course, where the Euro or Pound is used, BOTH of our currencies are jokes. I was hanging out with some Europeans over the summer here in New York and they were buying up digital cameras, clothing, etc. etc. To them, it was deeply discounted. Sort of felt like living in Mexico.

  • ...they cant play world of borecraft on it. Then they'll really be moaning on the web.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:15AM (#20726453) Journal
    that Americans take. They will sell the systems here, but only at a double price. And yet, these systems will soon be in other countries at the low prices.

    In addition, we buy these systems, and one will be sent to a developing nation. Well, I have been watching American education heading backwards. While I have defended our Education, it was more based on what I recall as a child. IOW, my generation KNEW the geography that we are accused of not knowing. But I talk to kids today and it is obvious that their core knowledge is degrading (as well as their desire to work). I worry about my kids (1 and 3.5) future. I would like to see at least some of these computers go to American schools. Do not get me wrong. I like donating to developing countries, but we also need to take care of home. Our inner cities need help. Even rural schools could use these.
    • by onion2k (203094) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:25AM (#20726511) Homepage

      I worry about my kids (1 and 3.5) future.

      Is your next kid going to be named '95'?
    • I would like to see at least some of these computers go to American schools. Do not get me wrong. I like donating to developing countries, but we also need to take care of home. Our inner cities need help. Even rural schools could use these.
      This is an honest question: why do kids need laptops? Is there some fundamental problem in teaching today that can only be solved with computers?
       
      • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:52AM (#20726657)

        This is an honest question: why do kids need laptops? Is there some fundamental problem in teaching today that can only be solved with computers?

        Yes. Specifically, they need to know how to use computers. Most of the teachers don't really know how, and worse, most of them are certain that they do. The best way to teach them is to give them a simple one that isn't (readily) capable of playing flashy video games, music, and movies, but can be programmed.

        This has to be done before they're thrown the high school "Computer 101" class where they're put through every circle of MS Office Hell. With very few exceptions, you can't start teaching someone to code in college; either they've already been doing it, or they'll never know how. The kids who took the Office classes in high school and think it made them computer savvy don't normally last past the first year in CS.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MrCrassic (994046)

          Strongly disagree.

          Maybe I'm one of the very few in your definition, but on a personal note I've never done any sort of computer programming until my freshman year of college, and even then the course was taught in a manner too liberal for anyone to learn anything. I started doing real code last year, and it is now fairly easy for me to pick up any language with the right amount of learning time.

          It's not so much the age of exposure that's important, but the level of interest that is. If someone wants

          • by bentcd (690786)

            Maybe I'm one of the very few in your definition (...)
            Seeing that you're posting on slashdot, this seems rather likely :-)

            Moreover, the people who might otherwise have pointed out that "yeah, he's right, I tried learning computers at college and I failed miserably" aren't likely to be around these parts of the net.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            There's likely some amount of truth to it though, related to the brain development of a child. It's not that you can't start learning as an adult, but that you'll have a more intuitive understanding by starting at an early age. Similarly, it's much easier to start learning a spoken/written language as a child than as an adult.

            Of course some of the more advanced aspects of both language and programming require a background that most or all children won't have, partly due to time constraints. But if the fu
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica (681592) *

            Never? You mean, not once did you ever write a dinky little game or implement a formula on your graphing calculator, or look at the code for gorillas.bas, or write a DOS batch script? Frankly, I find that hard to believe, considering that you're posting on Slashdot.

        • by djfake (977121) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:09AM (#20727145) Homepage
          Okay, I'm playing devil's advocate here. If in fact what you say is true - that programming can't be taught in high school, then how do we have programmers over the age of forty? I graduated from high school in 1981; there were _zero_ pc computers in most high schools back then.

          Why do children need to code anyway? And why do they need to use a computer? Isn't it better to teach them to think, and other basics such as reading, writing, and maths?

          • by walt-sjc (145127) on Monday September 24, 2007 @09:27AM (#20727869)
            I picked up my first (Basic) programming book in 1978 at Radio Shack and wrote my first program IN THE STORE on a Model 1 (much to the amazement of the sales staff) at age 12 (ok, that dates me too.) The interest was very strong, and I was regularly experimenting with electronic circuits and learning assembly language programming by age 15. In college, I was one of the few that could be regularly found in the Vax lab at midnight.

            I am continually AMAZED at how POORLY (in general) educated kids are in computers when the graduate college with a CS degree. Seems like all they have at that point is a basic ability to think, but they don't (again in general) know jack shit about computers, or have the team-work skills either. Yes there are exceptions - typically I have found them to be the type who has had strong interest in HOW things work their entire life, and have been self-teaching well beyond standard course material. The exceptions that only found interest in college seem to be MUCH more rare.

            Just how rare are they? Well, typically I get about 300 - 500 applicants for a position, and usually only ONE is *really* good - it's rare to have more. Frequently we don't even find that one, but end up hiring someone anyway. It's been that way for the past 10 years at least.

            IMHO, high schools SHOULD offer some type of internals / programming / networking instruction. Hell, they have wood and auto shop, music and art, why not computers? Why should one of the most important tools (computing) for the future of business / industry be left out?
        • by arivanov (12034)
          The best way to teach them is to give them a simple one that isn't (readily) capable of playing flashy video games, music, and movies, but can be programmed.

          I would agree that as far as the third world is concerned this may in fact be the XO-1. As far as kids in the USA, UK or anywhere else in the developed world an X-term off the family server does the job equally well. I have a few of them booting diskless and can add in a new one in about 5 mins. As a result the kid can sit down and use any of the comp

        • From my own brief experience 20 years ago, it was far easier to teach programming to those who could not already program, than to those who thought they could program.
      • Books are too high priced and as such, schools do not change them. In particular, consider geography. I learned all about USSR when I was kid (which came into play in the early 80's, when I was doing research on their biological weapons). Yet, there are literally schools here in USA that still have maps with the same USSR. The laptop allows for a change of instruction material so that teachers and kids can keep current at a fraction of the price. The XO is the ideal system for this. Even instructional mater
      • by timeOday (582209)

        This is an honest question: why do kids need laptops? Is there some fundamental problem in teaching today that can only be solved with computers?
        Why did you just use a computer to ask that question?
      • by walt-sjc (145127)
        This is an honest question: why do kids need laptops? Is there some fundamental problem in teaching today that can only be solved with computers?

        It's a tool, like a pencil and paper / books are tools. Do they NEED them, like they need water and air? No, but with them they will have the ability to explore and learn outside the classroom environment, and use them to facilitate / enhance education inside the classroom environment.

        Keep in mind that the target for these machines is countries with poor formal edu
      • by Thaelon (250687)

        Is there some fundamental problem in teaching today that can only be solved with computers?

        Those who can't, teach. [snopes.com]

      • by xzvf (924443) on Monday September 24, 2007 @10:46AM (#20728889)
        The XO-1 can replace textbooks and provide better up to date information. Say a school system has six textbooks per student at $50 each. Even if the textbooks are designed to last a decade, that's $300 or $30 a year. School supplies (provided by parents) are at least $30-50 and more often more. The $188 laptop (we'll give it a three year lifespan typical in corporate environments) would be about $63 a year. The textbooks can be up to date and you can add course management and online learning using a free tool like moodle. Lower medical bills for not having to lug around textbooks, expert teachers in rare subjects can be shared between schools, no book repositories to shoot at political figures from. Wins all around.
    • Don't get me wrong, but I personally believe that US Americans are unable to get good education, because Osama people in the nation, and I believe that the education over here in the US should help countries such as everywhere like the Iraq and South Africa such as, to be able to get a good future.
    • by hey! (33014) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:50AM (#20726641) Homepage Journal
      It has nothing to do with fleecing Americans. It's about getting the biggest bang for the buck. The limiting factor is US education is not access to computers or to the Internet; US schools already of technology programs. Therefore there is no reason for a charity to try to get these in US hands; they just want adult gadget hounds to underwrite getting these into the hands of kids who don't have technology.

      US education has more to fear from ill considered education reforms than a lack of technology. That said, my experience is different with respect to "today's kids". In my state (ed reform is state based) they are much better educated even than kids of my post-Sputnik days, particularly in mathematics.
      • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:09AM (#20726749) Journal
        Actually, many schools do not have tech. Here in the Denver region, I see loads of 486s still in use. That is a sign that things are really wrong. The XO can ultimately be used for good material presentation i.e. replace, not supplement, a book. What is needed is for a decent education framework to be in place which allows for ease of use. As I said elsewhere, skip the reader rabbit approach.

        BTW, the 2 places that I described as needing these kinds of computers (inner city and rural), really are behind times. As I pointed out elsewhere, they have limited 486's and still use maps with USSR. And as to kids being better at mathematics, I trust that you are kidding. In freshman high school, I was doing calc, along with other kids. While we were a little bit advanced, nearly all the kids came out of school with decent algebra under their belts. Now, American kids can not even return correct change from a buck without the use of a cash register. Algebra? Please.
        • by hey! (33014) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:23AM (#20727229) Homepage Journal
          It may be a sign things are wrong, or it may be a sign of different educational philosophies. Goethe, Descartes and Einstein all were educated, after all, with no computers at all.

          And as to kids being better at mathematics, I trust that you are kidding. In freshman high school, I was doing calc, along with other kids.


          I am not kidding. Look, I happen to know that learning calculus as a ninth grader is no big deal. I taught myself Calculus, because it wasn't even offered by my school. It was not typical then for kids in the ninth grade to be ready for Calculus then, any more it is now. More importantly, it is not a particularly impressive or important accomplishment to learn calculus in the ninth grade. Any sufficiently motivated parent can transform a moderately talented child into a "prodigy" capable of doing all kinds of mathematical parlor tricks above his age level. I've seen it happen, and by in large these "prodigies" don't grow into a population of adults that contribute more to society than others of their general talent level.

          It is not so important that kids learn things early so much as they learn them well.

          The Achilles' heel of ed reform in math is that it often addresses the wrong question. The most important question is not how much math kids can do, so much as the amount of math they understand. It's one thing to be able to perform in an integration bee, it's another thing to be able to think in terms of applied math. In my state, kids in middle school are way ahead of where most high schoolers were in my day in being able to translate everyday problems into mathematical terms. Of course, your state may be different than mine. Remember: ed reform is state based. The Republican educational reform model is broken: it demands "tough standards" but it's quasi "states rights" ideology means those standards cannot have any Federally mandated (or apparently even recommended) content. Thus "education reform" might mean teaching creationism in Kansas or keeping maps of the Soviet Union in place in Colorado (so far as I know).

          With respect to 486s -- I'd rather have kids with 486s, the Logo language, and a good teacher than the latest quad core processor, electronic flash cards and an apathetic teacher. Of course this is a false dichotomy, but the point I'm making is that of all the factors involved, the quality of the curriculum and its implementation far outweigh the level of tech.
          • It may be a sign things are wrong, or it may be a sign of different educational philosophies. Goethe, Descartes and Einstein all were educated, after all, with no computers at all.

            They each knew the tools relevant for their society, which were three quite different set of tools. Todays kids needs to master a fourth set of tools.

            There are commonalities in their education, they probably all knew who Homer was, and the basic structure of the Iliad. But Descartes knowledge of Calculus would be quite insuffici

    • >that Americans take.
      Pah, you guys get everything dirt cheap compare to other countries - welcome to our pain. It's not for nothing that it's always joked that when companies sell in the UK they use a 1:1 GBP/USD exchange rate effectively doubling the cost of everything. As an e.g.
      Vista Ultimate $400 (US)/$555 (UK)
      PS3 $500/$600
      Photoshop $650/$852
      iMac 20inch $1200/$1500
      OK, not doubled but you get the idea...
      • America pretty much funds the medical world. In particular, we pay top dollars for drugs (and with our fairly recent handout, we pay even higher prices). The same drug in Canada costs 1/10 what is does here. And in europe it is also cheaper.

        But if companies are charging the same price, that is silly. You can easily buy from dollars based store off the net and pay half the price.
        • >You can easily buy from dollars based store off the net and pay half the price
          Sometimes but then you need to add import duty, VAT, processing charges etc which bumps it up again unless your parcel manages to slip through. Certainly back in the day I used to buy most of my laserdiscs and DVDs from the US & Canada. Some firms kindly used to take off the wrappers, seals etc and mark the goods as second hand which reduced this a lot but good old Customs & Excise got wise to that.
          The most annoying
    • I don't think the problems with Western education systems are caused by a lack of computers, or even a lack of any kind of resource.

      The problems we have are caused by the attitudes of many of the parents and students and the lack of a stable and sound education policy and curriculum. Politicians and voters in the West are easily fooled by the money + good intentions = results equation, which is consistently failing to work. In the developing world, on the other hand, where the bottleneck is a lack of re

    • Hah! Just about any consumer products I look to buy here in Ireland are cheaper in the US than anywhere in the EU. Far from getting fleeced, you get rock-bottom prices cause that's all the US consumer is prepared (or able) to pay (this has been the truthful response I received from at least one customer service dept - others try the Steve Job's "cost of doing business" line or cite tax differences). Oftentimes the numerical prices in dollars is less than the numerical price in euro, even now with such a dis
  • Do a black (or silver) one for businesses. With OO installed.
     
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774)
    The more of these cheap laptops they can put in the hands of American teens, the more those teens will contribute to the available code base. By effectively pricing them so high, forcing donations like that, they're limiting the usefulness of the platform.
    • by tomknight (190939) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:52AM (#20726655) Homepage Journal
      Because American teens are the only ones who are able to benefit from / use /deveop with this platform? Recall that this system is intended for developing nations, it's only being made available to the US on the two for one offer as a way of getting more systems to other countries (and ramp up the publicity I guess).
    • by hey! (33014)
      I'll explain it then: if you spend more money than you take in, you go out of business, even if you're a non-profit.

      I know, I've worked many years in the non-profit sector. We'd have loved nothing better than to do our programs at zero cost, but the bottom line is that life in a non-profit enterprise is much like life in a for profit -- except much more consensus oriented (too many nice people in one place).

      So, you must sell these things at higher than your cost.

      Now it is time for the Accountant's Koan: W
  • Price positioning (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 91degrees (207121)
    Surely they should set a price to maximise total profits and spend the profits on more laptops for the third world. A robust portable device like this would be ideal for a lot of people who travel a lot and don't want to worry about their computer breaking (It's tough and even if it does break most people could afford the loss). But $399 is a bit too much for that. I'm sure they'd get more than twice as many buyers at $299, and that result in more money to make computers for kids.
  • Is the added cost tax-deductible?

    Personally, I do my giving through an organization that provides food, medical care, education. There's far too much poverty in the world to go around handing out laptops. Malnourished and sick children are going to have a hard time concentrating in computer class.

    For the price of these two computers a person can sponsor a child through World Vision [worldvision.org] for a year, and it's tax-deductible.
    • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Monday September 24, 2007 @06:56AM (#20726671)
      Someone says this in every OLPC article.

      The laptops aren't intended for places where there's a lack of food; they're intended to help build nations where roads, electricity, and food are taken care of.
    • by wjsteele (255130)
      Sounds like the old saying about giving the kid a fish or teaching a kid to fish? Hmmm. I'd rather give the kid the tools they'll need to suceed/survive then just give them the food themselves.

      IMO, these computers are the tools they will need to understand and work with the rest of the world. Maybe even give them directions on where to go and get food. (Hmmm... what a concept... food doesn't grow at my house either, but I do know how to go get it.)

      Bill
  • I, for one, was looking forward to the XO for an x-mas gift for my son, and being able to tell him that the same kind of computer was found everywhere worldwide. But for that price, the EE-PC from Asus looks far more appealing. I hate sounding like I'm thinking with my wallet, but egads. I'm all for charitable giving and the such, but this feels like something arbitrary that wasn't necessary. If they'd gone for $299 so someone in Africa could buy it for $100, then sign me up! But just an arbitrary hand
    • by torpor (458) * <jayv.synth@net> on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:04AM (#20726715) Homepage Journal
      Look at it this way. You're buying one for your kid. And also for some strangers kid. Its a selfless act.

      IMO, Americans could do with far more such selflessness these days.

      What would be really great in my opinion is if the two laptops were somehow registered such that the kids can get to know each other .. this would be an astoundingly peaceful action. What modern child wouldn't want to communicate with another kid around the world using their new laptops?
      • What would be really great in my opinion is if the two laptops were somehow registered such that the kids can get to know each other .. this would be an astoundingly peaceful action. What modern child wouldn't want to communicate with another kid around the world using their new laptops?

        I'd love that concept, except that there is little assurance that the laptop will end up on the desk of another kid. I know thats the intent, but we all know some of these things will find their way to eBay or elsewhere. H
        • As I understand it they are building ways to counter eBay sales of laptops supplied to the poorer nations. So the laptop you get in the US will not be 100% like the released ones.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cow ninja (306125)
        IMO, Americans could do with far more such selflessness these days.

        Actually 70% of American households give at least $1800 per year, that is more than most countries.
        http://usinfo.state.gov/scv/Archive/2005/May/10-36789.html [state.gov]

        According to this USA Today article Americans give more than twice of the next most charitable country.
        http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-06-25-charitable_N.htm [usatoday.com]

        Maybe EVERYONE could do with far more selflessness...
      • Oh, yeah, there's nothing like the Internet for peaceful and enlightened communication.

      • by Redline (933) *
        Thank you. I will be buying one (two?) of these. It is kind of comforting to know that my nephew's little green toy has a brother somewhere in Cambodia.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        "Dear Amari,

        It's Thanksgiving here! We're having a big feast later today, with enough food to feed 3 families! What's new with you?

        Jimmy"

        "Dear Jimmy,

        I had a feast just yesterday. We ate some leaves and drank tan water. Much better than the brown water we normally drink.

        By the way, you have the same last name as a contractor my father was doing business with. The contractor died before being paid and my father says there is $7.4 million dollars that can be withdrawn only by someone with the same
    • by mspohr (589790)
      The Asus eee pc is much different than the OLPC. OLPC is designed for education, group work collaboration, low power operation, sunlight readable screen. These capabilities are not part of the Asus machine. In addition, it's looking more like the Asus will be closer to $400 than their original estimate of $200. If you're looking for an education computer, get the OLPC. If you're looking for a small cheap laptop, get the Asus.
    • I think you may be missing the point. The only thing that is arbitrary and unecessary about it is the fact that they are offering to sell them to Americans in the first place.

      I will be purchasing one for my son for Christmas, and I find it absolutely brilliant that I will be purchasing one for an impoverished child in the third-world as well. Is that not the entire gist behind the "Christmas Season?" Or is it simply crass materialism?

      The only thing that I would like to see is a way to sort of "follow"
  • Better buy, better performance, bigger disk, lower price. Same small form factor.

    Only real advantage the olpc still has imho is the swiveling screen.

    http://event.asus.com/eeepc/ [asus.com]
    • Despite the shot of the blond on the beech, does this mean the Asus have sunlight readable screens? Also, I note that the ports aren't covered so easy ingress for sand. Lastly the OLPC also has mesh networking. Overall, a win for use outside. Personally, I think they will go down well for external use.
    • by wes33 (698200)
      what was the price again? When is it shipping? From the little I've heard the price is going to significantly higher than early hype indicated, and now the shipping is "sometime in October". You won't get two eee's for 399 that's for sure
    • Re:Asus EEE pc (Score:5, Insightful)

      by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Monday September 24, 2007 @10:36AM (#20728721) Homepage
      If the "third world kid getting a laptop" thing isn't an "advantage" in your mind, then you either have low hopes for the educational value of these laptops, or you're the love child of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.
  • "Buy a Laptop for a Child, Get Another Laptop Free"

    We're getting a $100 laptop for free when we pay $399 for two?!

    Luckily both weren't for free, or we would have to pay $799!

    • by gravos (912628)
      Or would it be $798?
      • by N3wsByt3 (758224)
        Nah. The default price is always with a 9 at end.

        Lets say it's the marketing overhead for making them both free with a hefty price that gobbles up the extra buck. ;-)

  • EBay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zoward (188110) <email.me.at.zoward.at.gmail.com> on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:35AM (#20726907) Homepage
    I can't help wondering when the first round of these appears on eBay. I suspect an American gadget hound who doesn't want to be fleeced will be able to pick one up there on the cheap shortly after they arrive in the collective hands of the Third World.
  • by UnHolier than ever (803328) <unholy_@@@hotmail...com> on Monday September 24, 2007 @07:36AM (#20726915)
    Or the rest of the world for that matter. Are we not good enough to buy those? I can see the teen from a third world country who worked and saved his money for years to get one of those, only to be told "Sorry, you can't buy it! You need to be given it, and your government has chosen not to give one to you!"
    • by Danathar (267989)
      These things are really not designed for "teens".

      If you look at the interface its designed for the 7-9 year old. I like what they are doing with the interface. It's a radical departure from the standard GUI and I hope it works.
    • Are we not good enough to buy those?

      Why would you WANT to buy them? I can think of only three valid reasons:

      1. No other computers are practically available where you live
      2. You have a philanthropic desire to aid those in category #1
      3. You crave the "geek cred" of owning a rare and unique device

      If you're just looking for a general-purpose computer to own and use, this is not the best choice for you. You'll get similar performance out of a 6-year-old Xbox.

      • Who told you I was looking for a general purpose computer? I'm looking for a low power-consuming, portable, low-end computer that will have a browser, wifi, a pdf reader, a word processor and possibly Skape (can the XO run Skype?) and that has a real keyboard and screen and is not a cell phone. These things exactly fill the niche between low-end laptops and PDAs. I could get the same price/performances with an old laptop, but chances are that the battery will be used to death and unreplaceable and that I'll
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I want one of these things, just so I can wander around outside and do some writing/brainstorming while I'm there. The fact that the unique design makes it a good conversation starter is also a plus. I've never seen anything quite so well suited for that. I'm a bit nervous taking my current laptop anywhere.

        Plus, if I accidentally throw it off a cliff in a drunken rage, then another damned kid gets another damned laptop. I consider this a huge advantage over my old laptop (may she rest in peace).
  • The theory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hao Wu (652581) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:13AM (#20727175) Homepage
    That poor foreign kids should/need to/want to emulate little American dorks.

    Each laptop should come with free samples of Lithium, Prozac, and Ritalin -- plus an instruction guide for developing ADD/ADHD and avoiding contact with girls.

  • This is an inexpensive learning computer for children in developing countries, not a bargain-of-the-month consumer electronics product designed to be flung around wealthy consumer markets like the U.S. or the Eurozone. If the only thing you are concerned about is "why can't I buy this laptop for myself fo $199?" you probably don't understand the purpose of the project to begin with.
  • by MacTO (1161105) on Monday September 24, 2007 @08:28AM (#20727255)
    Why should you consider an OLPC over an Eee PC? Because the OLPC program is about giving kids an education and technology that will enable them to build a 1st world future for their 3rd world country. The machine itself has a very accessible user interface: it is highly simplified, and not does not expect the newcomer to be literate in any particular language. (The latter is important because there are many dialects out there, and because children may not be literate when they are initially given these machines.) It also makes learning IT accessible, since it involves two excellent programming tools for the learner: Squeak (via eToys, a.k.a. Squeak), and Python. In many ways, it is about teaching them "how to fish" rather than giving them the fish. If you think about this in dollars and cents, you are missing out on something great. If you think that they should be given food or the ability to grow it, you're missing out on something too. Not everyone is able to contribute to the welfare of others in the same way. Negroponte and his band of loyal academics, geeks, and so forth decided that their ability to contribute is through IT. After all, that's where their skills and aspirations lay. The food first angle also misses the point that the peoples of many nations don't want to be stuck in a subsistence or donor recipient situation. The want an education so that they can grow beyond the handouts of the 1st world. (Of course other peoples and other nations have other aspirations.) To some, the OLPC may step beyond the bounds. The OLPC is not perfect, and it isn't only about price. It's initial introductory mantra of the "$100 laptop" was mostly about making it accessible by making it inexpensive. And even though it is $400, I hope to snag one through this deal. I have seen the computer, and it is rugged and useful. As an educator, I also see that it may have more utility than the standard "made for the office" desktop/laptop PC. Perhaps I would also use it to contribute back to the project if I did get one.
  • All the regular vendors have to do is come within $100 of this price for a laptop running Vista. Then only the few idealistic geeks will participate in the 2-for-1 program. I'm sure the big manufacturers can eat the losses on one model for one month.

    Programs like this look good on paper, but don't take typical human behaviour into account.
  • I have not seen much discussion of how these units will be maintained - certainly no official policy. Without sustained long-term support in the way of replacement parts I suspect this will be another project that pulls its punches. What happens once the media frenzy dies away and the technology sponsors decide there's little PR merit in just supplying spare parts?

    I'm a dreadful cynic and I hope I'm wrong...

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