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Preview Of The $100 Laptop 304

Posted by Zonk
from the penguins-in-little-hands dept.
cynical writes "Harvard's Ethan Zuckerman, founder of GeekCorps and Global Voices, got a chance last week to drop in on Nicholas Negroponte and get a preview of the $100 laptop Negroponte has designed for students in the developing world. Zuckerman talks about both its hardware and the One Laptop Per Child project, and asks the readers for suggestions for innovative ways the $100 laptop can be used." From the article: "The mockup I saw was about the size of a large paperback book. There's a stiff rubber gasket around the edge of the machine, which can double as a stand. The keyboard on the mockup was detachable, but will probably fold out on a hinge ... Two trackballs, surrounded by four way buttons, on each side of the screen act as controls, and function keys on the back act as additional buttons.)" We've previously reported on this device here on Slashdot.
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Preview Of The $100 Laptop

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  • The demo was yesterday afternoon, and while , I learned a great deal more about machine than I have from previous articles, or Negroponte's talk at Pop!Tech. He was able to answer a whole set of questions for me, and raise an entire set of new ones, which, I suspect, will take a number of years to answer accurately.

    I'll wait for this to be actual news. I'm filing this under the "proposed" WiMax killer.
    • Let's try that again: The demo was yesterday afternoon, and while it didn't include a functioning prototype, I learned a great deal more about machine than I have from previous articles, or Negroponte's talk at Pop!Tech. He was able to answer a whole set of questions for me, and raise an entire set of new ones, which, I suspect, will take a number of years to answer accurately.

      I'll wait for this to be actual news. I'm filing this under the "proposed" WiMax killer. I accidentally clicked "Submit" instead
    • by billstewart (78916) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:33PM (#13952324) Journal
      Don't get me wrong, it's a nice concept. They may be doing some innovative things with the screen, though as of September's non-slashdotted article, that was still just proposed. The crank on the side is a potentially useful touch. And they've taken some creative approaches to picking useful software, applications, and modularity.

      But the fundamentally cool thing about this box is that it costs $100; at $200 it wouldn't be as cool, and at $500 it'd be really lame. So until they've got real manufacturing costs and really *can* make it for $100 in volume, it's still vaporware.

      • "So until they've got real manufacturing costs and really *can* make it for $100 in volume, it's still vaporware."

        Even if they can do it sub-$100. In a 3rd world developing country...how are they gonna power the thing? What are you going to do...plug it into a cactus in the desert?

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:24PM (#13952233)
    Has this laptop already been rendered obsolete by cellphones?

    Just look at the kind of information people are sending and retrieving from these low-power, sub-$100 devices already...
    • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:27PM (#13952269) Homepage Journal
      sub-$100 devices already

      Most cell phones are not really sub-$100 devices. Their true cost of a web-enabled phone is often well over $100, but the true cost is hidden somewhere in the 1 to 2 year contract with the provider.

      Plus, the interface on a Computer is superior then the interface on a mobile phone for many tasks.
      • Most cell phones are not really sub-$100 devices. Their true cost of a web-enabled phone is often well over $100, but the true cost is hidden somewhere in the 1 to 2 year contract with the provider.

        Well, this isn't a sub-$100 device, either, really.

        The $100 price point for this device is based on unrealistic volume assumptions, in my opinion -- Ethan notes that it'll likely start off at $130 to $150 'not including any distribution costs, marketing, or any digital content that comes pre-installed on t

      • Their true cost of a web-enabled phone is often well over $100, but the true cost is hidden somewhere in the 1 to 2 year contract with the provider.

        And there lies the problem of trying to improve the less fortunate from a 'techie' standpoint. The idea of a "cheap" phone or other device they can "own" is pretty straightforward. The problem is as you stated, you don't own anything and are doing nothing more than begging for their service.

        When they give you that fancy $300-500 phone for less than one hundred d
    • Good call. A slightly bigger Treo that could use a real kbd? Sounds cool.

  • Draw the line (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jacem (665870)
    Where do we draw the line between a very small laptop and a large PDA. The price point is good for a PDA especially if you add the price of a detachable keyboard but really what is the point.
  • $100 per child? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ossifer (703813) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:24PM (#13952240)
    What educationally useful things will the child do with the laptop?

    As an ex-CS college professor, let me suggest that it would be better to spend that $100 on the developing world on more teachers, education for teachers, roof for schools, etc.

    Technology is not the answer to every problem. Remember all those silly computer labs back in high schools in the '80s? Did anyone get any real educational value out of them?
    • by nb caffeine (448698) <nbcaffeine@@@gmail...com> on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:29PM (#13952282) Homepage Journal
      Hell yeah there was, I now know the best way to take a waggon all the way across the country without gettin dystentary!
    • "Remember all those silly computer labs back in high schools in the '80s? Did anyone get any real educational value out of them?

      Of course they did! Some of them learning to crack the school network, going to on to becoming the legendary uber-hackers, eventually being hired by computer security firms!</completeanduttersatire>
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SensitiveMale (155605) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:32PM (#13952313)
      Technology is not the answer to every problem. Remember all those silly computer labs back in high schools in the '80s? Did anyone get any real educational value out of them

      Are you forgetting the huge information boom of the 90's and now the 00's?

      • Re:$100 per child? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bastian (66383) on Friday November 04, 2005 @04:02PM (#13952564)
        Ahem. That huge information boom mostly only happened for the rich. (If you're here reading Slashdot, that almost definitely includes you. I'm not talking rich-as-in-drives-a-Bentley. Even if your car is ten years old and rusted out, at least you have one.)

        This laptop is being designed for folks for whom an information boom would be textbooks and teachers. It's being designed for folks who have a hard enough time putting food on the table and clothing on their backs without dropping two months' paycheck on a piece of electronics. In fact, design flaw #1 on this thing is that it is a piece of electronics.

        A computer is a not a magic make-everything-better device.
        • Re:$100 per child? (Score:5, Informative)

          by yppiz (574466) on Friday November 04, 2005 @04:26PM (#13952795) Homepage
          In fact, design flaw #1 on this thing is that it is a piece of electronics.

          While I want to agree with you, I also think that there are counter-examples that electronics are not only beneficial but the correct solution to information needs for the poor. For example, radio and telephone are electroics-based technologies, but are crucial and successful even in poor and low-tech areas.

          A critical element of success is that the electronics be reliable and easy to operate. These I think are the big challenges for something like a laptop, not the fact that it's built out of electronic parts.

          --Pat
    • Hell yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RandoX (828285) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:33PM (#13952318)
      I grew up in one of those labs, on a Vax. Today I'm a professional software engineer, and I credit it all to the seeds planted in my youth trying to extend the capabilities of DCL batch files to do everything from games to utilites to public message boards. Never underestimate the power of a push in the right direction, especially at a young age.
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:33PM (#13952319) Homepage Journal
      Remember all those silly computer labs back in high schools in the '80s? Did anyone get any real educational value out of them?

      I did- classes in just such a lab were my first introduction to Assembly Language and the PROPER use of spaghetti code (in miniassemblers, spaghetti code is useful because it allows you to edit your program directly in memory. So useful that indeed it's valueable to put in three NOPS after every 5th instruction so that if you need to you can insert a JSR later).

      I'm sure it didn't help for the majority of students- but for the few who would otherwise be spending their time being beat up by jocks, it was a godsend.
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:33PM (#13952322) Homepage Journal
      Did anyone get any real educational value out of them?

      I did-- I had an Apple IIe in my 5th & 6th grade classrooms, and I did some programming in Basic & Logo on the system, learned some basic hardware skills.

      I tucked those skills away for 10-15 years, but I still think that they helped me to solve logic problems, basic computer hardware skills. I majored in science/humanities major in College, but somehow I still ended up being a Senior System Administrator for a number of companies.

      Another way to ask this question: Will the students be at a disadvantage if they do not have tools like a Computer in the classroom?

      Obviously they need a roof, teacher, books, etc. But other tools can be valuable as well.
    • Well, the article is talking about how $100 can buy you a computer.
      You're talking about how money is being misallocated in the USA and in other places.
      Sure, most Americans had better find their child a better school, with a roof and good teachers, but if someones wants a cheap computer, that $100 thing is surely cool to have!

      I agree though that computer education in school doesn't really teach you things. Hell, I got my first home PC when I was 19, and now I'm a good CS student.
    • Amen to that.

      First of all, computers are often sold under the assumption that putting one in people's hands gives them an education. In reality, how many people have any sort of education software as a percentage of games, productivity apps, etc.?

      Secondly, these individuals need actual teachers before computers.

      Thirdly, $100 computers would be snatched up in the Euro-America world quicker than they could get to developing countries... and we'd pay more for them.

      Fourthly, how many high school PC or Mac labs
    • If it wasn't for those silly computer labs back in highschool - even if they only taught me Basic and Visual Basic, I never would have gotten involved in computers, much less received a bachelor's degree in computer science.

      I know BASIC isn't the greatest language to begin on, but it did teach basic concepts of programming logic (at least, with regards to iteration and control), and, apparently, was enough to hook me into something deeper.

      I was just one student, though. In the giant scheme of things, w
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sedyn (880034)
      My local school board is forbidding all forms of programming (this even includes stuff like flash) to be taught to high school students.

      So I don't think anyone will get any real educational value out of them now (they will be teaching word processing, spreadsheets, typing, etc. You know stuff that any 13 year old can figure out).
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rctay (718547) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:37PM (#13952355)
      As an ex-public school teacher that ran a lab full of Apple lle's, I can honestly say very little. There was almost zero funding after the initial equipment purchase for maintenance and upgrades. Almost every teacher at the school were technophobes, and only planned class sessions in the lab to have a free period off. After four years the lab was scrapped and the computers was placed in the classrooms to gather dust. A few kids learned a few lines of basic for display tricks. The technology was just pushed too soon to inexperienced administrators.
      • Except this is probably the same situation which taught Microsoft to market to management and not the technologists. Too bad Apple didn't catch on to this. If they had, they might have had some training materials and courses for the adults so they could learn what that new fangled computer thingy was supposed to do. I don't think Apple would have recognized the marketing potential of such data. IMO.

        LoB
    • Personally, the labs at school were only a way for me to best the others. I knew from the start that this "logical thinking" thing that was apparent in computers was the one I'm good at. So I tried that. Soon all computer related tasks were easy as whatever for me.. Currently working as a games programmer. If it weren't for the computer labs, I would probably still be just a gamer and not trying to best myself over existing implementation.

      So the horrible presentation actually pushed me "over the edge" in my
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:44PM (#13952408) Homepage
      While I agree that thoughtlessly throwing computers at kids doesn't provide much value, I wouldn't say they're necessarily useless. First of all, it seems to me that there may be value in electronic text books. Kids would have less to carry (laptops are heavy, but not as bad as a couple text books), text books could provide multimedia, interactive activities, and tests, and they might be cheaper, all things considered (especially so if we get some decent open-source text books. Does anyone know if there are gratis electronic text-books?)

      Beyond that, the fact is computers are becoming a part of our daily lives, and a certain level of computer knowledge is, more and more, becoming a job requirement. They also allow for free expression (more easily), and allow people to connect from around the world. Kids who can't get access to computers and the internet will find themselves at a disadvantage when trying to survive in relation to 1st and 2nd world countries.

      No, not every activity needs to be pushed onto computers. Computers aren't replacements for teachers. Computers shouldn't even be top-priority. However, if used properly, they are a great tool. As with most of the cases of technology misuse in the '80s and '90s, the whole problem comes when people who don't understand how these computer-things work start deciding that they'll be a cure-all for every situation. Of course, this problem persists today, but we can hope that as computers become more common, more people will understand that computers are tools to create solutions, and not solutions in themselves.

    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nijika (525558) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:49PM (#13952450) Homepage Journal
      Those labs were the only thing that kept me interested as a child.

      That being said, your point is not only well taken, but valid. These laptops could be a leap forward, but they aren't much use if the children they are designed for don't also have food, clothing, and shelter to start.

      Nice gesture, but it's a long way off.

    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pro777 (90089) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:50PM (#13952467)
      As a former computer studies teacher at a secondary school in the developing world, I applaud Negroponte's efforts to get cheap computer hardware into the hands of those who need it. After two years of wrestling with broken, "donated" crap machines from the Western world, I think this is a serious step in the right direction.

      At a school like mine, a computer lab could conceivably provide access to Wikipedia, and any other number of educational games. My students were fascinated with education games, spent hours looking at entries in Encarta, and made some pretty incredible art with MS Paint. But of course, more needs to be done.

      I think in addition to hardware, we also need to create materials to education children on "how" to use the computer. After scouring the net looking for a primer, my colleagues and I decide to write our own. We should not be reinventing the wheel on this problem.

      Cheap hardware coupled with the proper teaching materials could do a world of good for developing countries. I just hope it happens sooner rather than later.
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by griffjon (14945)
      Technology is not the answer to every problem.

      Sure it is, you just have to frame the question differently. e.g.:

      Problem: "Our school doesn't have a roof over it!"
      Answer: "You should have a fundraiser to buy roofing construction supplies and some alumni to volunteer labor"
      Results: New roof for the school, community strengthening, cost of roof spread out among the entire community via the fundraiser.

      Whatever. That might be cost effective, sustainable and useful. Really, you should say:

      Problem: "Our school
    • The question is about educational value, not introductory training for tech careers. The goal of the project is to replace textbooks with laptops, which means ALL students (not just budding geeks) will have these INSTEAD OF books.

      I question the wisdom of replacing $20/year textbooks with $100 laptops on a 5-year finance plan, as the article suggests. In the next sentence it mentions that if the publishers have to be paid for the content the cost will be higher. Well yeah, essentially you're replacing $100 w
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hoggoth (414195) on Friday November 04, 2005 @04:19PM (#13952740) Journal
      Well, as a eigth grader I needed to draw circles on the screen, in 6502 assembly language. Of course there were no drawing primitives, just setting a bit to turn on a dot. So I had to research how to plot circles. I found lots of trig answers with sines and cosines, but I didn't have sines and cosines in assembly language and as an eigth grader I didn't really understand them. Then I found an old paper describing Bresenham's algorithm that only used addition to draw circles and arcs. Very fast, very easy to impliment, even for an eigth grader.

      That was one example out of hundreds. I learned a lot about math, about research, and about logic from computers. Of course now a days kids don't program, they run prepackaged applications. Using Word and playing Reader Rabbit aren't the same as trying to figure out how a computer works.
    • Re:$100 per child? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hkb (777908)
      Uh yeah, I learned how to use computers (TRS-80 Model 1s) when I was too poor to afford a decent one (eg. non-Timex Sinclair). I also learned how to use word processor programs, and how to program in BASIC. It was also a natural meeting place for all of us kids interested in computers, and we'd meet during free periods of time to socially network and play on the computers, show each other our latest programs, and other related trivia.
    • What educationally useful things will the child do with the laptop?

      As an ex-CS college professor, let me suggest that it would be better to spend that $100 on the developing world on more teachers, education for teachers, roof for schools, etc.

      Technology is not the answer to every problem. Remember all those silly computer labs back in high schools in the '80s? Did anyone get any real educational value out of them?


      Certainly a good teacher is one of the best uses of money, but sometimes there just aren't en
    • by RY (98479)
      I still rember the first batch program I wrote, which got me suspended for "hacking" the school computers.

      10 PRINT "This class sucks. The teacher is so stupid"
      20 GOTO 10
  • by sammy baby (14909)
    Obviously, the linked web site is being run off a prototype of the $100 laptop.
    • You're going to need a lot more than a hand crank-powered laptop to serve 1,000,000 page views over the time this article is sitting at the top of Slashdot.

      Right now I have a funny image of Iago from Aladdin spinning on that bicycle with Jafar screaming "faster" at him while frantically trying to check his server logs.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:25PM (#13952250)
    I would easily shell out something like this for my kids to play with. This seems like something that could survive the normal bonkings that paperbacks suffer under my children's hands. It also looks like the perfect "eBook reader" device, which could help on long car trips. Of course, my kids would probably complain and ask for a DVD.
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:25PM (#13952251) Journal
    The articles had very little on the look and feel. Better pictures can be found here [wbcampaigns.net].
  • Swatch them! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StefanJ (88986) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:28PM (#13952272) Homepage Journal
    You could fund this program by selling "designer" vesions in wealthy nations.

    Have Swatch or some other design-centric company make a dozen glitzy versions a year. Sell them for $250, with a big trade-in allowance on used units. The store and designers would get a cut; the rest would go to buy units for distribution to poor kids.
    • Have Swatch or some other design-centric company make a dozen glitzy versions a year. Sell them for $250

      I think those are called iPods.
    • > You could fund this program by selling "designer" vesions in wealthy nations.

      Here's an even better idea: let's have it play commercials. Boot it up, and here comes a Nike ad. Just "do it," little developing nation tyke. Communism and Democracy are passe. Welcome to the New World Order of international consumerism.

      Here are the products you should aspire to purchase as you sit among your family's sheep, laptop at the ready. Even if you can't afford $200 basketball shoes or a watch that's twice your p

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:28PM (#13952273) Homepage Journal
    They could use the profit from selling it at Fry's and CompUSA to pay for free laptops for the kiddies- and the increase in manufacturing demand might even lower the price more.
  • If they ever became available here. I work in an American school system (Charles County, MD) and I would love to know if these will ever be commercially available. We've been looking for a solution something like this for online text books, etc for our students for a while. This would be a dream. If they ever decide to sell them commercially to American and other countries that don't need the boost from the charity bit of this effort.
    • Those people are shooting themselves in the foot by not offering it for sale.

      Greater numbers (due to high demand worldwide, not the least from a crowd of blood-lusty Slashdot readers) would work to reduce prices even more (I assume the biggest chunk of manufacturing are fixed costs which can thus be spread over bigger numbers).

      If the machine could run some general-purpose Unix (Linux or BSD) I'd buy it for up to $150...
  • How will this help (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ironsides (739422) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:29PM (#13952281) Homepage Journal
    My questions largely had to do with how the laptop would be used in the classroom. I made the mistake of asking a question of how the laptop would be used as "a teaching tool"... like Papert, Negroponte's a big believer that students simply need access to technology and can use it to teach each other and to make discoveries themselves.

    I'm inclined to agree with the writer that Negroponte's response is lacking. How will every student having a laptop help them in any way?
    • How will every student having a laptop help them in any way

      Yeah, no sh!t, especially as I sit here in an office surrounded by consultants with laptops who don't have the faintest idea how to make use of them...
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:29PM (#13952287)
    1. What LINUX flavor will it use?
    2. What CPU will it use (Intel, AMD, other)?
    3. How does the sourcing of compnents influence the $100 cost of the laptop? For example, could they get Intel to hand over a bunch of of CPU's cheaply? Can they get Samsung to do the same with RAM?
    • If you read the link under FAQ's in the MIT Media lab area, it says "Its founding members are AMD, Brightstar, Google, News Corporation, and Red Hat, all of whom have funded both OLPC and the MIT Media Lab." This leads me to believe, Red hat for the flavor, and AMD for the processor ;)
  • by Dotnaught (223657) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:30PM (#13952291) Homepage
    Act now and we'll throw in food, shelter, a stable power supply, and tech support for one year or the rest of your life, whichever comes first.
  • by Barkley44 (919010) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:31PM (#13952303) Homepage
    The keyboard on the mockup was detachable, but will probably fold out on a hinge ... Two trackballs, surrounded by four way buttons, on each side of the screen act as controls, and function keys on the back act as additional buttons). Sounds like more moving parts than a typical laptop, won't that be an issue when things break, how easily can they get them fixed?
    • "while it didn't include a functioning prototype... Negroponte keeps a cardboard mockup"

      Vapourware until proven otherwise. Let's see what the working mass produced version has...

  • by Mean_Nishka (543399) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:32PM (#13952312) Homepage Journal
    If Negroponte is able to mass produce this thing at a true $100 cost it will be revolutionary.

    I wonder, however, why he only plans to offer this device to the developing world when millions of children (and their school districts) in the United States could also benefit from such a device. $100 laptops could save school districts millions in textbook costs alone!

    • The massive cost of textbooks is quite inflated. Order of magnitude reductions in textbooks costs have been shown to be possible if authors', editors' and publishers' royalties are reduced. This project FHSST [nongnu.org] has made massive progress to that end and will produce books for less than $3 per book. The first book should be out in 2006. Books shouldn't be replaced, they should form an integral part of the teaching process.
      • There's no reason in the world most textbooks should go out of adoption in less than 10-20 years. The only differences between a 7th grade math book now and one 20 years ago are:
        1) calculator-related exercises
        2) flashy color
        3) "hip" teaching methods

        A good teacher can use a 20 year old math book along with supplimental calculator exercises and teach the same material.

        On the other hand, some books DO need updating even MORE often than the usual 5-10 year cycle:
        Any book or part of a book that touches on histo
      • Yeah... Great idea... And word has it cars wouldn't be so expensive if we didn't pay the engineers and assembly line workers. Think how safe the streets would be if we hired 1,000,000 more cops! How will we afford that? We will pay them next to nothing!

        Why, there is no end to the cheap goods we would have if we just used slave labor!
    • by Rick Evans (48110)
      "If Negroponte is able to mass produce this thing at a true $100 cost it will be revolutionary.

      I wonder, however, why he only plans to offer this device to the developing world (...)?"

      There are two reasons the manufacturing cost is so low:

      1- They'll be shipped to the receiving country as parts. 10 million motherboards, 10 million displays, etc. and assembled in-place using local labor. So the assembly costs are not only low -- they're providing jobs in the country of use. Which instantly supplies a labor
      • 2- The component suppliers are subsidizing the cost of the parts with profits made from developed countries. One condition of this arrangement is that the $100 laptops cannot be sold here and undercut the profits.

        This is the first reasonable answer I've seen to this question.

        I wonder if another part of the answer is that if they are available in developed countries, it would make it harder to detect and combat the inevitable black market for them.

        That said, I wish they would sell them in the develop

    • It was part stipulations clause of the building "donation" Bill Gates made to MIT. I might have went something like this" Any new technology from hence forth produced in ANY/ALL MIT buildings, can not be released in the United States if it contains a keyboard and display, unless it comes only with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Windows based software.

      Really now, it might have something to do with the massive reliance on Microsoft Windows in the US school system and the profits those generate which prevents
  • by digitaldc (879047) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:37PM (#13952360)
    Add a wireless card, DVDRW drive and several USB ports and then it can be used as a phone, book reader, movie viewer, video game, language and typing tutor.

    Maybe it can be networked to support a school tutoring program and free internet access?

    Add Windows XP error reporting and Office assistants, and it can be used as an instant source of frustration and lamentation.

    I couldnt get the worldchanging URL to load....maybe it could be used to support that site too.
  • by bkontr (624500) on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:48PM (#13952448) Homepage Journal
    But even I don't the 3rd world will bother with this either. It looks a bit too cheap, and there are much better alternatives for slightly more money. Who are they marketing this to anyway? Developing countries are probably more interested in desktops, for the price and performance factor. Besides, if $100 is expensive to people in the 3rd world (and you can bet on that) they're not going to want to carry a laptop around where it can get stolen or damaged. What do you all think?
    • Good points- but also remember in the third world there isn't really houses or apartments with doors. No police and courts to really enforce the ownership laws- if any exist at all.

      Also- there isn't much power to plug desktops into and if there is- it usually is not very reliable. A laptop it better suited to deal with places where power is spotty and unreliable.

    • The government is going to pay for these laptops, not common people, I mean: this computers won't be for sale, so this is going to be free for the kids. And, as many have said, not everybody in the 3rd world has currency in their house, so at least with these laptops they have "the crank" to power it up.
  • I'll pay $200 for one of these if it does simple wordprocessing and appointment scheduling. Maybe even some spreadsheets and stuff. Internet might be nice too. Maybe I should be able to buy it and they give one to some kid in a developing country, without any expense to them.
  • Was the p-233 laptop I picked up for $30. I slapped a $7 wireless card on it, removed the hinge and put it in a picture frame. I use it at the karaoke bar I work at so singers know when they're coming up.

    http://www.7bamboo.com/modules.php?name=News&file= article&sid=212 [7bamboo.com]

    --toq
  • by OctaneZ (73357) * <ben-slashdot2&uma,litech,org> on Friday November 04, 2005 @03:52PM (#13952487) Journal
    Coral Cache of the Website [nyud.net] for your viewing pleasure.
  • We should give these things out to American kids!

    Since they'll be required to hand-crank them every few minutes to continue playing gangbangers-shoot-the-cops, it'll be the only exercise they'll ever get!
  • Raising a whole new generation of script kiddies. My own opinion of the world has always been that "anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong." This venture is no exception.
  • ASSUMING teachers were trained, tech support was in place, electricity was in place, and network infrastructure was in place, here's what I see laptops being used for:

    Paper-and-book work being done on a computer:
    writing/composition, test-taking, e-books, journal-keeping, drill-and-practice, homework, etc. Much of this will be submitted for grading electronically, saving paper costs and making it easier for the teacher to catch cheaters by spotting patterns.

    As an enabling technology:
    Email, web-based researc
  • by JemalCole (222845) on Friday November 04, 2005 @04:31PM (#13952840) Homepage
    Sell them for $200 in America with the understanding that you're paying for one in the 3rd world. Buy one, get one sent to somebody who really needs it. I'll take two.

  • Just thinking that a lot of 3rd-world kids won't get a ride to school and back in the family SUV.
  • The article says "The laptop is not 'for sale' - it's going to be available for students only."

    The problem is that handing someone in a country that has limited economic freedom [freetheworld.com] a $100 value product may result in that product being sold for $100, as often the return on education in those countries is negligable because the market is so constrained by government that more skills does not always result in more pay.

    On the other hand, I think there may be some niches this fits into, they should develop it and s
  • I have an idea how they could use the $100 laptop: Sell it and use the money for better health-care or maybe even food.

    Shocking idea, I know.
    • Re:Idea (Score:4, Funny)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday November 04, 2005 @05:34PM (#13953444) Journal
      You're responding to a post about a:

      ( ) Technical innovation in a developing country
      (*) Product shipped to a developing market
      ( ) General discussion about IT in the devbeloping world

      The location is:

      ( ) Africa
      ( ) India
      ( ) Bangladesh
      ( ) China
      ( ) Somewhere else in Asia
      ( ) South America
      ( ) Central America
      (*) Other _unspecified_

      You're objecting to it on the basis that:

      (*) Poverty hasn't been eliminated in that country yet
      ( ) American jobs will be lost

      Your argument is bogus because:

      (*) Poverty hasn't been eliminated in the developed world either, that doesn't mean we should halt all technological research
      (*) This will not adversely affect any efforts to alleviate poverty
      (*) This will help to alleviate poverty
      ( ) Poverty in that country isn't as widespread as you say it is
      ( ) The US does not have a divine right to keep all the cool jobs
  • by xtermin8 (719661) on Friday November 04, 2005 @05:42PM (#13953517)
    Have we not learned from Steve Jobs review of the Segway? Cheap micro computers will be used for porn and Solitaire. Period. Nothing to See Here.

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