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Manufacturer Picked For $100 Laptop 236

Posted by Zonk
from the intel-ticked dept.
IZ Reloaded writes "MIT has picked Taiwanese firm Quanta to manufacture its $100 laptop. From PCWorld: 'Under terms of an agreement with One Laptop Per Child, Quanta will devote engineering resources to develop the $100 notebook design during the first half of the year, according to a statement issued by the group. At the same time, Quanta and the non-profit organization will explore the production of a commercial version of the laptop.'" Apparently they don't think it's ineffectual either.
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Manufacturer Picked For $100 Laptop

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday December 15, 2005 @12:57PM (#14265590) Homepage Journal

    The stock for Strongbad Industries, of Strongbadia (Pop: Tire), took a severe hit on the news.

    like my good friend, Craig Barrett says, it is no good if our sales no asplode

    BTW, how do you spell Barret(t?), even Intel seems to forget [google.com].

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Thursday December 15, 2005 @12:57PM (#14265594) Journal
    So perhaps some of you have read Bill Gates' Business at the Speed of Thought [microsoft.com] . No, not the Necromonicron, I'm not referring to anything written by Satan (just one of his understudies). I have read this book and a very interesting concept that I gathered from it was that a business could be measured by the speed at which information passes through it. This makes sense as the easier it is for employees to gather information or to pass information increases the amount of brainstorming and learning that occurs at your company.

    I then speculated that this could also be applied to nations. A country's greatness may be able to be measured by the ease at which its citizens gather information. And if you look at today's countries, this might be true.

    Perhaps this initiative to deliver cheap laptops to students of poorer nations will help boost their economy and the rate at which information travels from person to person. After all, isn't internet access the fastest and cheapest form of communicating?

    Just something to think about. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way--I know this is a very altruistic view. On top of that, I realize I've just mentioned Bill Gates in a somewhat positive manner. *sprays himself with flame retardent foam and begins to pray*
    • by quanticle (843097) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:09PM (#14265694) Homepage

      The whole problem I've seen with this "one laptop per child" initiative is an inadequate focus on infrastructure. Sure, your laptop won't need a power cord due to its crank handle. But how are you going to get on the internet? In my experience, having a computer is increasingly irrelevant if that computer does not enhance your ability to obtain and share information.

      • I don't know if it's in the final design but I believe there is supposed to be a radio inside that functions with others as a grid/repeater.
      • But how are you going to get on the internet? In my experience, having a computer is increasingly irrelevant if that computer does not enhance your ability to obtain and share information.

        You're absolutely right. I know that my computer was just sitting around, completely useless, until I was finally able to connect to the Internet in 1994. Prior to that, it was a very expensive paperweight for two years.

        The Internet isn't everything. There's plenty of useful things a computer can accomplish without hav

      • Well, wise guy, if you'd RTFA you'd know that a. the laptops contain both wifi, and cellular broadcast capabilities, now the normal wattage of the cellular antenna is going to be about 5-10 miles, but with say and extrnal antenna booster at the school a simple 3 watt antenna can easuly reach 50+ miles, and the laptop hooked up to that 50 mile antenna can use the wi-fi to connect all the little student laptops to the internet.

        now don't you feel stupid? i do realize not every third world county is within 50
    • I have read this book and a very interesting concept that I gathered from it was that a business could be measured by the speed at which information passes through it.

      That sounds like a typical Bill Gates idea.

      Q: What happens when you have a lack of organization in a company?
      A: A lot more communication occurs as everyone throws around questions about "who knows this" or "who is responsible for this" and "I *think* that ABC is true, but I'm not sure."

      A well oiled company should only need a minimum of infor
      • A well oiled company should only need a minimum of information exchange. So as metrics go, information flow is a pretty poor one.

        I respectfully disagree. Information sharing is what allows one part of the company to see what the other part is doing and adjust accordingly, with a minimum of fuss, thus producing your "well-oiled machine" analogy. Without wide data paths between groups, teams don't know what other other teams are doing and either work to cross purposes, or make incorrect assumptions that

        • Information sharing is what allows one part of the company to see what the other part is doing and adjust accordingly, with a minimum of fuss, thus producing your "well-oiled machine" analogy.

          Agreed.

          Without wide data paths between groups, teams don't know what other other teams are doing and either work to cross purposes, or make incorrect assumptions that lead to product failure.

          I'm certainly not going to argue that wide data paths are important. However, the amount of information they carry is not indicit
        • Without wide data paths between groups, teams don't know what other other teams are doing
          Never mind the quality - feel the width? I prefer quality over quantity, myself.

          There's a difference between access to information you need, and information flow just for the sake of it. Most of the flow is irrelevant to most of the people it flows over. The examples given by the grandparent are that - noise, not signal.

    • I highly recommend you try to locate a copy of National Geographics Africa issue. It is very enlightening in that it avoids the Tarzan stereotype propogated by the sensationalist media in the U. S. and describes what Africa is really like.
      Yes, Africa has problems and there is a need for clean water and food. But Africa is not as bad off as you might imagine from what you see on the nightly (so called) news.
      If you can't find a copy of NGs Africa issue I highly recommend you try to locate a copy of the la
    • I then speculated that this could also be applied to nations. A country's greatness may be able to be measured by the ease at which its citizens gather information. And if you look at today's countries, this might be true.

      Perhaps this initiative to deliver cheap laptops to students of poorer nations will help boost their economy and the rate at which information travels from person to person. After all, isn't internet access the fastest and cheapest form of communicating?

      This reminded me of a report I sa

    • After all, isn't internet access the fastest and cheapest form of communicating?

      No, I don't think the internet's the cheapest form of communication. Sitting across the coffee table talking to someone is the cheapest. Well, and fastest, too, as far as that goes. Using the internet to do the same thing - even if you ARE using a $100 laptop - only works if your country has billions of dollars worth of infrastructure, training, and souped-up techno-culture in place to make it all go. Solid power grids, not-t
  • by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday December 15, 2005 @12:58PM (#14265602)
    Quanta is highly regarded as one of the better laptop manufacturers and I wish them luck. Quanta manufacturers a number of product lines for Apple and their own line of X86 laptops get good reviews.
  • Bad title (Score:5, Informative)

    by DogDude (805747) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:01PM (#14265621) Homepage
    The manufacturer wasn't picked. A company to investigate how this thing could be manufactured was picked. No company has yet to say that this is even possible. This is still ivory tower, public reltations mumbo jumbo at this stage.
    • The manufacturer wasn't picked.

      I disagree. According to this article [p2pnet.net] Quanta plans to start shipping in Q4 of 2006 if it can reach acceptable arrangements with component suppliers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:01PM (#14265624)
    Actual production of the laptop will, of course, be outsourced to the Ohio Art Company [etchy.org].
  • Quanta's specs (Score:4, Informative)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:02PM (#14265634)
    The 500MHz
    1 GB Memory
    "Skinny version" of the open-source Linux operating system
    Two-mode screen, viewed in color and black-and-white display
    Powered either with an AC adapter or via a wind-up crank w/ 10-to-1 crank rate
    4 USB ports
    Wi-Fi- and cell phone-enabled
    Each laptop acts as a node in a mesh peer-to-peer ad hoc network
    When closed, the hinge forms a handle and the AC cord can function as a carrying strap
    The laptops will be rugged and probably made of rubber

    I say this is not bad at all for $100.00.
    • How is this possible given current cost of RAM? Isn't notebook RAM typically more expensive than its desktop equivalent? Might we be seeing evidence of collusion among the RAM manufacturers after all?
      • How is this possible given current cost of RAM?

        "Memory" is a superset of "RAM", or "SDRAM" as you are probably assuming.

        Note that this laptop does not include a hard disk in its specifications. This 1GB memory is for its non-volatile storage and will probably behave like a 1GB CompactFlash module. It probably has a much smaller amount of DRAM.

      • Re:1 GB Memory? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:50PM (#14266042) Homepage
        I though the RAM manufacturers were already convicted of price fixing. We've known this for a long time. Also, RAM you buy is at retail value. Obviously these laptops will have a cost value of $100, and will be sold for no profit.
    • No kidding. Where can I get me one of these? I'd happily pay up to $350 or so for something with a guaranteed long battery life and a much more rugged design than a conventional laptop. I mainly program on my laptop anyway, so as long as it runs vim I'm ok.

    • I am skeptical, especially as it doesn't have a harddrive and the screen is small (9.5 inches).....

      But I read up on it and the idea as a whole isn't bad - no need to keep 100 different versions of everything running for some poor admin at an elementary school.

      Plus it always be cool to have on for myself as an el-cheapo version to keep in the car:)
    • 1- USB ports = bad. These are for developing countries so why do we use a port that is fragile and easily jammed full of goo?

      2- made of rubber. Again, not that good of an idea. Offering a removeable rubber sleeve or "jacket" is a better idea or how about building it out of plastic that is 2X as thick as they normally use with some extra plasticizer in there to make it even more flexible and resistant to cracking and breaking?

      3- Wifi? ok good idea... Cellphone enabled? WTF??? if they cant afford a small
      • Re:Quanta's specs (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        1. (USB ports == necessary) == true. All the cheap peripherals are USB. What are you suggesting, firewire? Or maybe a LPT or RS-232 port? Which is to say, useless today?
        2. Made of rubber. They can not possibly mean this literally. For one, display panels can't take the kind of flexing this would result in.
        3. Cellphone enabled. You clearly have no idea of what the cellular phone uptake rate is like in third world countries. Cellular infrastructure is many times cheaper than wired, and in many places it's not possi
    • Doesn't this kind of remind you of that Weird Al song "All About the Pentiums"?

      What kind of chip you got in there, a Dorito?

  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:03PM (#14265638)
    This $100 laptop is a great idea, but the justification stated on the website seems a little "creative." You could also argue for any number of modern conveniences that would help children in 3rd world countries, like a $1000 Mercedes using that justification. The bottom line is, people in these countries need food, shelter, clothing and education but more importantly, political stability. It just seems funny with all the problems countries are facing--particularly in Africa--a $100 laptop for every child, though commendable, would not solve.
    • Well, you're right about an immediate form of aid. But have you really helped them by giving them this water, food or mercedes handout?

      What better way to free a people then to allow them the means to learn how to grow the food or purify the water? What I'm trying to say is that teaching someone how to help themselves is worth more than you helping them along their entire lives.

      That's why I like this laptop idea so much. It's not a temporary bandaid with a few truckloads of food or mercedes. It's a p
    • You're wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What will bring political stability is education, freedom of speech, and communication.

      This laptop will bring those about. It has wireless capability. Even a programming language. It can teach obviously new farming techniques, basic healthcare, but also new political ideas by exposing people to the last 2000+ years of political experience and historical knowledge.

      Furthermore, this laptop is not necessarily targetted at the poorest of the poor. It is targetted at the children in the middle poor countries wh
    • sure (Score:3, Insightful)

      There are a myriad of needs in second and third world countries that aren't addressed by a $100 laptop. That's a no-brainer.

      But the education need is addressed with the laptops. That's the whole point - it allows for a better education than without. Electronic medium textbooks are a pretty big deal even in America, let alone a third world country with a minimal GDP.

      Food, shelter, political stability - of course these aren't answered. But that doesn't imply that bright minds shouldn't be working towards

    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:16PM (#14265758) Journal
      Isn't anyone else getting fucking tired of the same old crap bullshit over and over.

      Not every 3rd wold nation is a disaster zone. Their are plenty of places where there is political stability and food and water and hygiene are no longer the primary concerns.

      What is the problem is getting them to the next level. EDUCATION. Books are expensive and you need a lot of them for even basic schooling worse they need to be translated for each country.

      While laptops are also expensive you only need 1 per child, its software can be updated constantly to give the latest book the child needs, it can replace paper to make homework on.

      Stop thinking the 3rd world is like the horror shows you seen on tv. These occur because the 1st world always looses interest the moment the immidiate horror is over and the real hardwork needs to start.

      SCHOOLS are needed much more at the moment. These laptops would help in those 3rd world nations who are at the moment struggling not to feed their citizens but to educate them.

      These are not for refugee camps, they are for places like south africa and india.

      • by everphilski (877346) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:27PM (#14265837) Journal
        Givings kids cheap notebooks does not equal education. Without learning how to read, or operate the machine the machine is useless. You need the infrastructure in place to have an educational environment before these things can be of any use. We still don't have educational applications for these machines lined up yet.

        Truth be told, the laptop really isnt necessary. It could easily be replaced by a good thousand page almanack containing good information on math, science, culture, farming, clean practices, etc. Ever see how cheap reprints are on out-of-copyright works? 3-5$ for 500 page books are not unheard of. We could be mass producing educational works for $8 if we wanted to. But that wouldn't be "cool" because its not a computer. Book has less failure modes, cheap to produce, could be produced under an "open source" license free to distribute...

        -everphilski-
        • Book has less failure modes, cheap to produce, could be produced under an "open source" license free to distribute...

          And can't be updated and don't provide any sort of communication capacity. This laptop can provide everything a book provides except toilet paper, but also more - like communication infrastructure via mesh networking. Handing out almanacs isn't education either - there needs to be a continuous communication effort. These laptops can provide some of the infrastructure for that. Not to mentio

      • What is the problem is getting them to the next level. EDUCATION. Books are expensive and you need a lot of them for even basic schooling worse they need to be translated for each country.

        The guy is not a retard. He challenges the idea that a gift laptop = education. You are buying into the fallacious idea that this green toy and education are synonymous, which is foolish. These gadgeteers from MIT should stick to what they know and not mislead the developing world with their weird technological distrac

      • Oh yeah, and by calling them "third world nations" really helps,....
      • Sorry, Mr. Pottymouth, but you're wrong. What people need is the protection of private property rights. Without that, time preferences are skewed higher, and capital does not accumulate. All the education in the world is worthless without capital.

        It's up to the people living in these poor regions to make private property a high priority, so that capital accumulation is possible. As long as they don't, they'll be stuck in their third-world hell.

        • And while they're at it, they should get rid of their culture of corrupt authoritarian governments. It's hard to own private property when you have to be the correct tribal ethnicity to do so. It's hard to accumulate capital when genocide is being waged against you.

          Africa has a lot of problems, but being treated as children by white Europeans is not the solution.
      • "Their are plenty of places where there is political stability and food and water and hygiene are no longer the primary concerns."

        Yeah, and they all have growing economies, and an increasing quality of life. If the problem's going away on it's own, that's not a compelling argument for action on our part (we'd probably just fuck it up).
      • Actually there are a lot of poor countries who have made great strides in education, especially in Africa, and continue to be poor.

        The problem is with an over-regulated economy, no combination of education or aid can lead to economic growth. For example, Cuba (with a very regulated economy) has a very high literacy level, compulsary education up to age 15, and almost anyone in Cuba can go to college if they pass a test, yet most people in Cuba are lucky if they make the equivalent of $10 a month.

        This refer [educationnext.org]
    • You are not seeing the big picture in this project. If each child has one laptop, they can all be interconnected with one another, and with the rest of the world. The Internet is the greatest communications device ever invented. With such a level of communication, third world children could take it upon themselves to create their own means.

      Take, for example, the new-evolving web 2.0 boom. This is a time where web software runs king, that is, software that is globally accessable, promoting a free excha
    • that reminds me of a funny onion piece from a while ago -- an illustration of how people need to be ready in other ways for a technology in order for it to be useful at all

      KABINDA, ZAIRE--In a move IBM offices are hailing as a major step in the company's ongoing worldwide telecommunications revolution, M'wana Ndeti, a member of Zaire's Bantu tribe, used an IBM global uplink network modem yesterday to crush a nut.

      Ndeti, who spent 20 minutes trying to open the nut by hand, easily cracked it open by smas
  • by cejones (574416) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:06PM (#14265661)
    After recently visiting my local Goodwill computer store, I saw hundred of old laptops laying around for sale.

    Why not take donated laptops and refurbish them.... get donated spares from the orginal OEMS, etc Fix them up and then you kill two birds with one stone... No more computer waste in the landfills and cheap laptops for Ghana.

    Considering the cost of labor in Ghana, why not send donated laptops to Ghana... Bring a few hundred people from Ghana to this Taiwanese company to train on how to refurbish the laptops...
    • After recently visiting my local Goodwill computer store, I saw hundred of old laptops laying around for sale.

      Why were they there? They very likely don't work, have dead screens and/or batteries. One important feature of the $100 laptop is the wind-up battery. Even if these Goodwill laptops were working, what a nightmare to support; all with different batteries, weird custom parts, expensive RAM, and many needing special drivers to work at all that probably haven't been updated since the machine was made,

    • The problem becomes how do you charge them? Network them? Get data on/off them? Fix them when they break down in Ghana? - since the machines are long out of date, and parts/batteries are hard to get (unless you manage to get enough volume to estabish what amounts to a manufacturing operation over there, in which case, they can take care of themselves.)

      The concept behind the $100 laptop is to create a commodity computing device tailored for an area where power and communications infrastructure are absent.
      • I know this wasn't the crux of your post, but I'm going to use it as a jumping-off point...

        unless you manage to get enough volume to estabish what amounts to a manufacturing operation over there, in which case, they can take care of themselves

        Isn't this the point? I mean, if it isn't, it should be. People here seem to have a distaste for business and corporations, but without them, I daresay that most of us would be unemployed, and maybe in need of some cheap laptops ourselves.

        Businesses make the world a be
    • by MaxQuordlepleen (236397) <el_duggio@hotmail.com> on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:22PM (#14265803) Homepage

      Can you imagine the nightmare of trying to install a standard operating system on 1,000,000 random previously-junked laptops? Or providing any kind of support? Or spare parts?

      I think those donated laptops are probably better utilized in smaller-scale scenarios like a drop-in centre. Take a look at what these guys [sourceforge.net] have done in creating a standard Debian-based distro for use on marginal hardware. (It's a very impressive project, proves what kind of talent exists in the K/W area)

      There's poverty close to home, too, and close to home in the developed world is probably a better place to use this kind of hardware, where there are lots of geeks close by to lend a hand.

    • by amalcon (472105) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:27PM (#14265843)
      There are two advantages of the $100 laptops and refurbished laptops:
      1. The $100 laptops are designed with durability as a primary concern. These things need to last. Refurbs are notoriously bad at that.
      2. The $100 laptops have a hand power crank. While this is a nonissue to many people, even I (as someone who camps fairly often) can see some small utility in something like this. In countries where there isn't much of an electrical infrastructure at all, this could make the difference between being able to use the laptop at home, and having to go to the library to plug it in -- or even more.
  • Crank Now (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:07PM (#14265673)
    Once upon a time you had to crank your Victrola to play your music.

    Now you can crank your notebook to play your MP3's.

  • Poor choice (Score:5, Funny)

    by blueadept1 (844312) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:10PM (#14265706)
    One laptop per child? If they used the manufacturers that Nike uses, they could surely turn out at least 3 laptops per child per day.
  • Forecast (Score:3, Funny)

    by wombatmobile (623057) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:11PM (#14265708)

    The group did not offer an explanation for the numerical difference between this forecast, which would involve shipments of at least 7 million notebooks, with the forecast that initial shipments could number 5 million units.

    They have to count everything by hand and estimate large numbers until they build the first laptop for their own office use.

  • More informations (Score:5, Informative)

    by this great guy (922511) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:11PM (#14265710)

    I submitted the story 2 days ago, but it was rejected (damn I hate when that happens), so here is more information...

    Here is the official press release [mit.edu] from the One Laptop per Child organization. OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said, "Any previous doubt that a very-low-cost laptop could be made for education in the developing world has just gone away."

    Also tech specs can be found on the FAQ page [mit.edu]: 500 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM.

    • I submitted the story 2 days ago, but it was rejected (damn I hate when that happens)

      We all hate when that happens. At least they didn't take the **Beatles-Beatles version.

      Would be nice for Slashdot to have, in addition to Accepted and Rejected statuses, a Posted Another Subscriber's Version annotation to your submissions record. Might not sting quite as badly that way.

    • Re:More informations (Score:3, Informative)

      by kgp (172015)
      I've been spending a lot of time researching the specifications for the $100 laptop (my info comes from interviews or talks given by Jepson and Negoroponte).

      Everything I've found out I've written up in the $100 laptop Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org].

      I still have more to write up about the software system.

      But little hint: think about where Alan Kay comes from. Smalltalk. The Dynabook. Constructivist learning.

      This is not a "linux laptop" as most of you know it (linux kernel + X + GNU tools + a Window manager). This

  • Perfect (Score:3, Funny)

    by Moby Cock (771358) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:13PM (#14265724) Homepage
    These things are going to be so stable!!

    Quanta never crashed, definitely never crashed.

  • one second... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abstractrude (935296)
    Do the 5 year old kids working in the factory get a free laptop. They would probably be good at turning the crank. anyway just a thought
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:32PM (#14265882)
    ..... because they make stuff for the following companies:

    - Dell (Latitude)
    - IBM/Levono (any and all of them)
    - Sony (Vaio)
    - Apple (iBook)
    - Gateway

    They also made HP laptops in the past. Plus they're moving into cell phones and other eletronics.

    Their CEO Barry Lim was named one of Computer Reseller News's Top 25 Execs in November (http://www.crn.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=17 3600682 [crn.com] for more).

    They have the track record to make this happen properly. I just wonder why they'd do it. Maybe for the P.R. points? It's not for the cash.

  • What will happen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thecpuguru (919288) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:35PM (#14265909)
    Here is what will happen when those laptops hit the street of those impoverished nations: 1) They will be sold to local pawn shops or richer people for food, clothing or medical treatments that these people need more than this type of technology. 2) The ones that are used, will be used very little or mis-understood, because technology with out proper training is utter folley. 3) They will end up in secondary or used markets and provide litte to no benifit to those that have them due to the reasons listed above. sad but true
    • You missed one.

      The 419 scammers will collect them and use them to run their scams from instead of the Internet cafes they use currently.
    • because technology with out proper training is utter folley.

      First of all, your assumption that there is no training is groundless--these things are going into schools, they aren't being dropped from airplanes.

      Second, your assumption that it requires "proper training" to learn technology is also groundless; many geeks are self-taught. Additionally, Linux is enormously well supported by on-line resources at all levels.

      They will end up in secondary or used markets and provide litte to no benifit to those that
    • Here is what will happen when those laptops hit the street of those impoverished nations:

      First, 3rd world nations are not impoverished. They are very similar to uneducated rural people in more developed countries. They both typically depend on others for their livelihood by things like doing simple labor or simple agriculture, often for primary benefit of others.

      4th world countries are impoverished.

      1) They will be sold to local pawn shops or richer people for food, clothing or medical treatments that thes
    • Bullshit.

      People don't need 'training'. They are not animals. Some percentage of ALL human populations are quite capable, and quite good at, self-learning. All that is required is access to information. Don't believe me? Watch kids interact with a library sometime. If these people have access to the right tools, some of them will realize it can be used to make their lives easier.

      Those computers mean access to information on AIDS, mathematics, weather information to help with crops, the ability to communicate
    • They will be sold to local pawn shops or richer people for food...

      Ob Southpark:

      "Okay then, do we have our Bibles that were handed out freely? [an Ethiopian attempts to eat one, but Hollis interrupts] No no no, we don't eat the Bibles, we read them ."
  • by ChrisGilliard (913445) <christopher.gilliard@gmai l . c om> on Thursday December 15, 2005 @01:36PM (#14265914) Homepage
    Dell is already selling desktops for $299. http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/category. aspx/desktops?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs [dell.com] By the time these things get down to $100, what price will it be to buy from Dell or another manufacturer?
  • Think different. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hernick (63550) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @02:02PM (#14266163)
    Whenever the 100$ laptop is mentioned, the hordes scream: "Africa needs food! Africa needs schools!". Well, they've been receiving food and aid for decades, and they're still poor. Maybe it's time to try something different. What if you gave millions of children access to the "sum of human knowledge" - or at least, the next best thing: a laptop with ad-hoc wireless mesh networking?

    500MHz AMD CPU. 128MB RAM. 1024MB Flash memory. 4 USB ports. WiFi. VoIP. Switchable colour/BW display. Hand-cranked generator or AC powered. Runs Linux. Rugged. 100$.

    This is much more than a toy. It's a communications device. It's a textbook library. It's an opportunity for Africa to embrace information technology and its benefits.

    Some laptops will be stolen. Others will be destroyed by accident. Others will be burned at the stake for being evil western technology. A great many will probably just gather dust.

    However, most of them will be used right: as learning tools. Millions of children will have and will use this wonderful library of textbooks. They will have a better opportunity to learn and to educate themselves than they ever did before.

    But what good is an education when you're condemned to a life of subsistence farming? I'm betting that in the end, the true potential of these laptops will be wasted on 90% of children who get them. And that's to be expected. And that's all right.

    There are kids, on every continent, that love to learn and that have a gift for learning. These kids go to school, but they absorb knowledge from available source. These children will go beyond the school curriculum. In Africa, they will use their laptops to learn skills they never could have otherwise. We'll see young africans that know about programming, networking, information technology, advanced farming and construction techniques - and so much more - just pop out of nowhere. We'll see a new generation that knows how to use technology and how to make the best of it.

    So, you're right. These laptops will be for the most part, wasted. But it doesn't matter - because we'll have given awesome new opportunities to a few hundred thousand gifted children, who'd otherwise would have been condemned to a life of subsistence farming.
    • The food didn't work because it was stolen. The aid didn't work because it was stolen. The laptops may or may not work, it depends on whether they will be stolen. Most of Africa's problems can be traced to corrupt authoritarian governments.
    • Whenever the 100$ laptop is mentioned, the hordes scream: "Africa needs food! Africa needs schools!". Well, they've been receiving food and aid for decades, and they're still poor. Maybe it's time to try something different.

      Yeah, like autochtonous economic development, something that first world nations have been fighting extremely hard for the past few decades. And guess what, food "aid" is in fact aid for the givers [globalissues.org].

  • The toy industry is getting close. The Barbie B-Book Learning Laptop [target.com] has a keyboard and mouse, but an undersized screen. Each year, Barbie's new laptop has better specs. The first one appeared in 1999, and now Barbie is up to version 5.

    And it's only $59.95!

    (For boys, there's the Batman Laptop [target.com].)

    A bigger screen and some USB ports, and these things are going to be useful.

  • Alot of posters have mentioned that this money could better be utilized by giving them text books. Which of course earns the response by the other side of why spend $50 on one text book when you can spend $100 on one laptop that can hold 40+ textbooks. Here is where I weigh in on this: Publishers of textbooks do so for the money. It is simple, they copyright their material and sell it. They will not be able to simply get this $100 laptop and keep all the textbooks they need on it, the 'e-books' will ha
    • Think "Site License" for e-books. Low cost of publishing, publisher makes money, schools get discounted books that are easy to distribute, and that never need to be collected at the end of the year, missing pages, and covered with doodles.
  • If the device can be made and sold at a profit, I will be able to buy it here in US, thanking MIT for the inventiveness.

    If not, it will not survive for long anyway.

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