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$100 Laptop Takes Flight in Thailand 162

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the all-about-the-benjamin dept.
EmperorKagato writes "Nicholas Negroponte's project for every child to have a laptop will come true for over 500 students in Thailand. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expects each child to receive a laptop instead of books as the books will be provided electronically. The laptop, mentioned previously on Slashdot, will now be brought to children in Thailand in October and November, with hopes for future shipments to Nigeria, Brazil and Argentina in 2007." This story selected and edited by LinuxWorld editor for the day Saied Pinto.
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$100 Laptop Takes Flight in Thailand

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  • Only 500 (Score:5, Funny)

    by NekoXP (67564) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:23PM (#15928459) Homepage
    There are only 500 children in Thailand?

    If not "a laptop for every child" is a bit short :D
    • It's a trial run. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:27PM (#15928493) Homepage Journal
      There are only 500 children in Thailand?

      It's a trial run - from tfa:

      More than 500 children in Thailand are expected to receive the machines in October and November for quality testing and debugging.
      • by soft_guy (534437) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:41PM (#15928640)
        There are only 500 children in Thailand?

        It's a trial run - from tfa:


        Thanks for clearing that up. We all seriously thought that there might be only 500 children in Thailand. The GPP did not pretend to misunderstand this point purely for comic effect.
      • $100 Laptop Takes Flight in Thailand

        I certainly *want* a flying laptop! And for a meager $100, too. I suppose the FAA, BAA and IATA are keeping these out of other hands around the world. Those lucky thai!

        I for one welcome our new flying laptop overlords

        • my laptop flies just fine, but if this laptop is still useable after landing then i suppose that's an improvement
    • by creimer (824291)
      It's a different program, "a laptop for every child who's parents can afford one".
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by chadbryant (814231)
      There are only 500 children in Thailand?

      Well, they *did* just catch JonBenet Ramsey's killer there...
    • by Burz (138833)
      I too would like to know why only 500 quality children are being tested by the laptops.

      Signed,
      Emily Latella
  • by ems2004 (814056) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:23PM (#15928460) Homepage
    Where can I order mine?
    • by joe 155 (937621) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:26PM (#15928491) Journal
      according to this site; http://www.laptop.org/index.en_US.html [laptop.org] you won't be able to buy one, although I had previously heard that you could buy them for $300 as a way of donating 2 to children in the 2nd/3rd world
      • by Kesch (943326)
        I had previously heard that you could buy them for $300 as a way of donating 2 to children in the 2nd/3rd world

        There was a movement (I don't remember the links) that you could sign up for where you pledged $300 dollars for a laptop with the intent that the extra money would buy laptops for children. However, I think that the $100 laptop guys have yet to accept that offer.
      • by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:43PM (#15928656)
        Yes, and I seriously wonder why, everytime (after the announcement of the 300$-project) this story has come up after that, the editor hasn't bothered to keep including the link to that.

        When this project is brought up (and it had its share of /. frontpage-posts), I always see a lot of posts of "I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of them just for tinkering", and 300$ gives you AND good karma, and a very funny lil' computer.
        By keeping to mention the 300-dollar deal, I think it's easy for the editors to keep people aware of this possibility, and do their little contribution to which is, imo, a very good start in helping the third world countries partially keep up with the rest of the world.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          The deal has not, as far as I am aware, been discussed as a possibility officially. It is only a proposal made by unrelated people, and due to the wording of the pledge (signatories pledge to only purchase the laptop for $300, and only if over 100000 people sign by October), it is inconceivable that it will be successful except as an indication that there is interest in buying the laptops at an increased price.

          Also, from the prices I have seen, $300 barely pays for two computers. It certainly won't pay f

    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <`ten.yxox' `ta' `nidak.todhsals'> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:38PM (#15928606) Homepage Journal
      Give it six months after the first really big deployment (not this one; this is just 500 units, basically prototypes) and they'll be all over eBay.

      Subsidizing the hell out of something and send it to the Third World is a good way to guarantee that it'll end up being sold right back to the First World, if there's any kind of demand.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by RealGrouchy (943109)
        Case 1: Most kids (and perhaps their families) who receive the laptops will be extremely appreciative of them, and will cherish them with gratitude. Some may hawk them or break them, but overall the trial was a success.

        Case 2: The trial run of ~500 fails miserably, and Negroponte says "boy am I glad the initial run was only 500 instead of >1 miilon!)

        There are two main things to fixing poverty in the undeveloped world: proper inter- and intra-national distribution of food, and educating the masses (althou
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Daengbo (523424)
          There are two main things to fixing poverty in the undeveloped world:

          Really, though, Thailand is not that poor. Prime Minister Thaksin is himself worth something like US$600m, being a telcom baron and the richest man in the country. The rest of the country is fairly well developed when seen in comparison with other countries in the area. Try visiting Cambodia or Laos and then comparing the experience to Thailand.

          When I originally read about this deployment of laptops last week, I wondered why Thailand
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by 4solarisinfo (941037)
      Your only real shot at getting one (legally) is in the form of a petition suggesting geeks would be willing to help fund 3 computers, if they got one (paying $300 for a $100PC and a warm fuzzy feeling). We discussed it here: http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=19204 0&cid=15771034 [slashdot.org]
    • On the black market for these laptops that will be cropping up shortly in Thailand.
  • by Kesch (943326)
    $100 Laptop Takes Flight in Thailand


    I know these laptops are built to be rugged, but is it really a good idea to send them flying through the air?
    • by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:36PM (#15928585)
      I know these laptops are built to be rugged, but is it really a good idea to send them flying through the air?

            It's all the rage. Jon-Benet's killer was apparently doing it there, too.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, no... they just mean that in Thailand, unlike the UK, these children would be allowed to take their laptops on an airplane.
  • by OakDragon (885217) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:27PM (#15928497) Journal

    I am anxious to see these laptops in action. I have heard a lot of criticism that rather than laptops, the poor children of the world need clean water and nutritious food first. This is, of course, true. But such criticism supposes that all the poor are living in mud and filth. Not true - some have their basic needs somewhat met, and perhaps education is next on the list of needs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233)
      ...and perhaps education is next on the list of needs. Very much agree with your post; I might even argue that education also helps in accomplishing the other necesities you pointed out (teaching them to fish, so to speak).
    • by vga_init (589198) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:55PM (#15928782) Journal
      Right, but this is the way I see it: A lot of people blindly convert commidities into cash. If you consider the resources and labor that go into the production of electronics, you'll notice something--it's different! Electronics are made from plastics and metals in factories, by factory workers. Could these facilities produce food? Maybe...probably very poorly. Could these workers convert to managing a different kind of production? Sure, but they'd be less efficient!

      Furthermore, the facilities and workers for producing such laptops are in place, and they themselves cannot benefit 3rd world children in terms of food and water and health care. But can they contribute? Yes, they can, and that $100 going in exchange for the production of those laptops is not equivalent to $100 dollars worth of food! If things are balanced right, the value of the machines will be right and will not outweigh money spent on other items such as food.

      Food and water are essential, but it's unfair to say that the laptops would not be beneficial just as well. More pressing needs may exist, but every little thing helpful counts.
      • Another benefit that many here have overlooked is that these things will create a cottage industry for teenage and younger to support the product. Not all the kids will know the ins and outs of the hardware, software, and Linux, but quite a few will pick it up quickly on their own or with just a little help from expensive adults. And they will be in a much better position to help out their neighbors than those expensive adults who will probably leave the village after spending only a week or two launchin
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locutus (9039)
      That's what I was wondering about when India made that statement about how they'd be better off spending money on schools and teachers. You got to wonder how some of those kid who are getting a decent education in India would react if they were told their schools can't purchase computers because a village with 10 kids needs a school and a teacher. THAT is effectively what they said when they dissed OLPC.

      It really shouldn't be and all-or-nothing proposal and you might think that OLPC should start marketing t
    • by DieNadel (550271) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:06PM (#15928879)
      This is completely true. I've taught at a poor comunity in South America whose members were able to provide for their basic needs, like water (pit) and food (familiar agriculture and livestock), but were clearly lacking in education.

      The problem lies basically at bringing the information to them, and a laptop like this would create a path for the information to flow (it could even be preloaded with classes' material) and teaching means as well (it could have educational and interactive software).

      I think that basic needs MUST be addressed first, but if you want these people to progress in the society, the only way to achieve this is through education.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ThosLives (686517)

        The problem isn't so much 'bringing the information to them' but 'bringing the information to them in a way that doesn't take too much time away from meeting their basic needs'. This is why improving the base quality of living is so important.

        Here's a for instance. Let's say that a child in some part of the world has 16 waking hours a day, and it takes 12 of those to get food, clean water, etc. This means that there are 4 hours left for education. I am not convinced that a person can learn more in 4 hours

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Probably nothing exciting is going to happen with these laptops. As the story suggests, the kids will mainly use the laptops to read textbooks. Then again, they'll have access to a lot of books they didn't previously have access to — which is probably exciting for them.

      One thing folks miss when they criticize this probject: it will save the countries that buy them a lot of money. Buying and transporting books is expensive.

      The projects that do the best for the developing world address mundane, ungl

      • by kabz (770151)
        For people tending livestock, and growing produce for their families, the laptop will bring communications.

        Cable TV never delivered on the kinds of promises of learning and interesting programs the companies made to us. It took the internet, wikipedia, youtube etc.

        I'm sure that after a time these laptops will stimulate a relatively large growth in the web in the countries it is seeded in. Many web-sites in the native language will appear and although much of it may be porn, a lot will be of direct use to th
        • by fm6 (162816)
          Indeed, the folks tending livestock will want weather reports and commodity prices. They'll access chat rooms where they can discuss cattle diseases and breeding strategies.

          And yes, many such folk are illiterate. So they'll be after their kids to learn to read, so the whole family can go online.

    • by asuffield (111848)
      Education, yes. Education is accomplished by sending them teachers. Heavy text-only cellphones? Those don't seem very high on the list of needs to me. Education is not accomplished with a web browser. And yes, the laptops have been dumbed down to the level of western luxury cellphones. They are not intended to be laptops in the sense that we understand the term; they are not the universal tool that you expect from a laptop or desktop computer.

      It's unclear quite how useful these things are going to be, but t
  • Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expects each child to receive a laptop instead of books as the books will be provided electronically.

    Reading DRM'd books on an 8 inch screen. Sweet! And all you have to do is turn the crank madly to see anything. These poor kids are gonna end up with right arms like Hell Boy.

    • by BigNumber (457893) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:30PM (#15928526)
      Must...Not...Make...Masturbation...Joke...
      • k, I will, then.

        ...crank madly to see anything

        Doesn't cranking madly lead to impaired vision?
    • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:35PM (#15928574) Journal
      These poor kids are gonna end up with right arms like Hell Boy.

      At least they could put a crank on each side so the kids can look like Popeye!
    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:36PM (#15928581)
      Reading DRM'd books on an 8 inch screen.

      The books are NOT DRM'd. The entire system is strictly freely-licensed.

      And all you have to do is turn the crank madly to see anything.

      It doesn't have a hand crank anymore.

      So, in other words, STFU because you're either ignorant or trolling.

      • The books are NOT DRM'd. The entire system is strictly freely-licensed.

        But if this projectd works in developing countries, the major publishers in developed countries will likely use the result to promote similar projects, except with oppressive DRM. You've all read "The Right to Read" by Richard Stallman [gnu.org], right?

        • They could, except I would expect the people behind the OLPC effort to refuse to sell the device to people who want to use it as a DRM'd ebook reader. Besides, if they wanted that then they could just ask Sony to make them one instead!

          And yes, I have read The Right to Read. In fact, it's one of my favorite tools to explain DRM to people, and I've cited it on Slashdot many times myself.

          • by tepples (727027)
            Besides, if they wanted that then they could just ask Sony to make them one instead!

            That's my point. If OLPC is successful, developed countries are more likely to try it themselves with Sony DRM reader devices.

            • First of all, there's no reason they couldn't do that now. Second, a Sony ebook reader is more expensive than one of these laptops (even without any subsidy). Aside from complete stupidity or publisher kickbacks, there's no reason for any school system to even consider it (which, of course, makes it all the more likely).

              Of course, I still don't understand what you're getting at. Are you trying to say that we shouldn't support OLPC because it might give the proprietary dumbasses here stupid ideas?

        • But if this projectd works in developing countries, the major publishers in developed countries will likely use the result to promote similar projects, except with oppressive DRM. You've all read "The Right to Read" by Richard Stallman [gnu.org], right?

          One problem with this, why would any non/undeveloped country buy into and use closed systems with DRMed media when they can get Open sourced for less?

          I read recently where in Africa a project is working that uses cheap computers and satellite receivers i

        • You've all read "The Right to Read" by Richard Stallman [gnu.org], right?

          I would have but my copy had DRM.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by punkr0x (945364)

        The entire system is strictly freely-licensed.

        Who's providing the free textbooks?

        It doesn't have a hand crank anymore.

        So, in other words, STFU because you're either ignorant or trolling.

        Yeah, it has a footpedal doofus! That's completely different!

        Actually they discussed several things, including using a foot pedal, and a crank on the external power supply (as opposed to the original design connected directly to the laptop), but they don't appear to have made a decision. The picture in the FA shows

        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          The picture in the FA shows a hand crank

          The picture credit is "Getty Images/AFP", the text is from AP. Some editor dug up a file photo to illustrate the story. The crank is not part of the current design. Besides, just about every village in Thailand is electrified, they'll use mains power directly or to charge the battery.

        • Who's providing the free textbooks?

          Wikibooks [wikibooks.org], among other things [laptop.org]

          But surely you wouldn't have called someone ignorant without doing a little research

          The "STFU" was in response to the DRM bit as well. Or, in fact, it was almost entirely in response to the DRM bit, because the only way someone could possibly think this project would even consider using DRM is if they were entirely ignorant about it. FYI, the people designing the thing are huge advocates of Free Software, Creative Commons, etc. There's no w

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I suspect this whole deployment is more about saving government money (tens of thousands of textbooks cost a LOT more than $5000) than actually helping any kids. The kids will be stuck reading plain text books on an 8 inch screen and the prime minister will get a new palace.

      -Eric

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by dan828 (753380)
      Nothing wrong with a crank for power-- there are probably quite a few Dell laptop owners wishing that they had such sophisticated and reliable technology.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275)
      I don't think, or at least I've never heard, that any of the software on the system would support DRM.

      Nobody that I know of has ever proposed a good open-source DRM system, to the point where I'm beginning to think that it's impossible. DRM is security through obscurity; obscurity is anathema to open-source software; therefore it's very hard to try to implement DRM on an OSS platform, unless you use binary blobs or something.

      The use of systems like this, combined with strong licensing (if you could make the
    • by nacs (658138)

      And all you have to do is turn the crank madly to see anything. These poor kids are gonna end up with right arms like Hell Boy.

      Actually, the real models (ie: non-3d illustration) dont have cranks [com.com]:

      As initially envisioned, the laptops sported a hand crank on the side to generate power, but Negroponte has scrapped that idea because the twisting forces that would be bad for the machine. Instead, some form of power generation device, likely a pedal, will be attached to the AC power adapter, he said.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:33PM (#15928546)
    each child to receive a laptop instead of books as the books will be provided electronically.
    While good to get some tech in these kids hands, I can't help wondering about permanence. Without the printed page, past facts are easily changed to suit current attitudes. I know this isn't quite the case yet. But as we go farther down the road with ebooks, it will be a concern.

    Who are we at war with today?
    • by Penguin Programmer (241752) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:48PM (#15928710) Homepage
      Do you remember elementary school? The books you had access to at school were the ones that the school decided you should have access to. It's no harder for the school to say "only books that say ________ is evil are allowed" as it is to change e-books to say "_________ is evil."

      I think this is a non-issue here.
      • Paper books still have a permanence which

        I still have a geography book from the 1970s which describes Russia or the USSR as a godless dictatorship and Iran as a friendly tourist destination and ally of the US. I've held 60-year-old children's textbooks from Nazi Germany describing Hitler as a brave Nordic warrior fighting against the "Dirty Jews", complete with cartoon drawings showing the 'evil' Jewish bankers (complete with stereotypically large noses and evil squity eyes) and landlords evicting the 'poor
        • On the downside, I can't find that cartoon picture anywhere on the web. You'll just have to trust me. Believe it or not, one person has accused me as being a pawn in the Jewish world conspiracy because I could not produce that picture.
        • These objects are more permanent then an electronic copy. If a powerful group wanted to 'rewrite history', they could never destroy all of the old copies of these text. There are hundreds or thousands of copies of these same texts laying around in attics, closets and museums throughout the the US and Europe.

          Tell that to the early Christian church. Sure it may be possible to find old books but then the authorities can do what the Vatican did when some old books of the early church were found at Nag Hamma [gnosis.org]

      • by Clod9 (665325)
        The great thing about electronic books is that you can gather them up and keep them, on cheap and convenient storage devices.
        If even a few people splurge on a $29.95 USB device and keep copies of every electronic text they're given, then changes in such things as the "official version of history" and the "current stance of the scientific establishment" can be tracked and compared with similar collections from around the world. It's a lot better than paper, which requires keeping 30-year-old copies of the En
        • If even a few people splurge on a $29.95 USB device and keep copies of every electronic text they're given, then changes in such things as the "official version of history" and the "current stance of the scientific establishment" can be tracked and compared with similar collections from around the world.

          In theory, that's nice idea an that how stuff should be done.
          The problem, is that, in practice this is going to be much more complicated. DRM (or Digital Restriction Management, as RMS calls it) is a nice e

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kesch (943326)

      While good to get some tech in these kids hands, I can't help wondering about permanence. Without the printed page, past facts are easily changed to suit current attitudes. I know this isn't quite the case yet. But as we go farther down the road with ebooks, it will be a concern.

      You my friend are suffering from a mild case of Tinfoil Hat Syndrome. Electronically stored text is easily as permanent as a dead tree version. (Digital storage medium lifetimes aside). A pdf on my computer will not change its facts

    • Without the printed page, past facts are easily changed to suit current attitudes. I know this isn't quite the case yet. But as we go farther down the road with ebooks, it will be a concern.

      That's right, ebooks are easier to edit and via satellite are easy to update. If a printed book is found to have errs it has to be reprinted whereas ebooks are easy to edit then transit to update the book on a harddrive.

      Falcon
    • While good to get some tech in these kids hands, I can't help wondering about permanence. Without the printed page, past facts are easily changed to suit current attitudes. I know this isn't quite the case yet. But as we go farther down the road with ebooks, it will be a concern.

      I agree with you that we do need to be concerned about facts changing with time and how do we record the past (in fact I think this happens all of the time, and it appears to me it happens mostly due to negligence and not due to

  • in the west (Score:1, Insightful)

    by steincastle (995168)
    we still prohibit children to use computers at schools, well mostly
  • Come'on kids, it's fun.
  • Now when John Mark Karr kills children in his new country, he can get free laptops!
  • by Coopjust (872796) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:43PM (#15928665)
    Looks like Ballmer got to them first...
  • Preemptive (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Tweekster (949766)
    Not everyone that is poor in the world is starving to death and barely able to make any sort of living. Some people are just poor, their basic needs are met though, now they need education, that is what this laptop is for. Not the people that are literally starving to death or still have to worry about the plague.

    If your response was gonna be "why dont they worry about feeding them instead" you are an idiot, and should frankly just shut up.
  • by HoboMaster (639861) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:47PM (#15928703)
    Public school children are mostly prohibited from having laptops in class, many private schools only allow laptops with special permission, and the private schools that use laptops still force their students to deal with paper textbooks. What I want to know is, when do we get "a computer for every child" in the US?
    • by hey! (33014)
      Public school children are mostly prohibited from having laptops in class, many private schools only allow laptops with special permission, and the private schools that use laptops still force their students to deal with paper textbooks. What I want to know is, when do we get "a computer for every child" in the US?

      If there were ever a case of apples to oranges, this is it.

      In the first place, for all we know the kids will be expected to put their computers away and work with the teacher much of the day -- ju
    • Maine?

      Big state, northeast corner of the nation, not exactly a hippy-dippy/anything-goes/lets-try-new-things-for- the-heck-of-it/cost-means-nothing kinda place.

      They've been putting laptops in the hands of their students for a few years [google.com] now.

      They're not alone, other school systems have done the same. Colleges too, many now require incoming students to have a laptop.

      As to "force their students to deal with paper textbooks", that's mostly an artifact of the textbook publishers. Indeed many parents, educator

    • by crhylove (205956)
      I can tell you exactly when:

      When we have real elections and the good of the people is actually being looked after again by the government. To OLPC the US would only take the price of 20 days of the war in Iraq, but none of the members of congress stand to make much money off of that, so fat chance.

      rhY
  • by Harry Balls (799916) * on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:50PM (#15928728)
    I understand these 500 notebook computers are merely a trial run, the actual quantity needed is probably around 5 million.

    I see some problems, however.
    The minimum wage in Thailand is just below $100 per month. That's right, $100.

    What if the notebook computer gets damaged through fault of the kid?
    What if the notebook computer gets damaged through no fault of the kid?
    What if the notebook computer gets stolen?
    What if the notebook computer gets sold by the kid / his [drug-addicted] [financially distressed] parent?

    A family with one minimum wage earner could be pushed into financial ruin by any of these events.
    • I would hope that if a child's laptop gets stolen/broke/whatever, that the would have alternatives so the child can learn without it (school desktop computers, textbooks, etc) until another laptop is donated. I really would hope schools wouldn't expect, or force, parents to replace it.
    • They're not meant to be bought by individuals or families, but rather by governments. The plan is to make them ubiquitous, so that they're a completely commodity - in other words, there's no point in stealing them, and there's no value in selling them.

      Yes, if they get busted, that's a problem - that's why they're as rugged as possible. Probably the kid just exchanges it for a working one. (If they break several, then you've got a problem kid, I guess...)
    • The minimum wage in Thailand is just below $100 per month. That's right, $100.

      And the minimum wage in the United States is just below $900 per month. How much does an entry-level Windows notebook computer cost? What if the notebook computer of a student in such a developed country gets stolen or damaged?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 17, 2006 @01:57PM (#15928794)
    Replacing books with e-books causes all sorts of problems. No notes on the side of the page, no highlighting, harder to share / look on with a friend, harder to work collaboratively, harder to read at length, harder to transport.

    Books are *great*. Reading off of a computer screen is *terrible*.
    • by VAXcat (674775)
      And these laptops are going to have far shorter useful lifetimes than a textbook...I have textbooks I bought for college in 1971 that are still useful (physics and math don't change that quickly, at least at the Newtonian level)...how useful will one of these laptios be 30 years from now?
  • 1) No one has seen the magical lowcost screen yet

    2) No one knows how the mesh network will work

    3) No one knows how hard the batteries will be to keep charged

    4) No one knows how usable the software apps will be

    5) Nobody gets a refund if any of these wishful thoughts fall through
    • by fullmetal55 (698310) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:11PM (#15928932)
      hence the 500 unit real-world test environment... if this was a 5 million unit deployment... I'd understand this post having validity... but this is a 500 unit deployment... a real-world test... I don't understand your getting irritated calling this "snake oil" because it hasn't been tested... well, this article is a bunch of propaganda about the product, based around the 500 unit test. don't call it snake-oil yet. let the real-world test go through its paces before you get defensive...
    • by mspohr (589790)
      What a troll...

      1) No one has seen the magical lowcost screen yet

      Just because you haven't seen it, it must not exist.

      2) No one knows how the mesh network will work

      Mesh networks are common technology.

      3) No one knows how hard the batteries will be to keep charged

      How hard is it to keep your batteries charged? Lots of people in the developing world have electricity, generators, solar power, and yes, hand cranks.

      4) No one knows how usable the software apps will be

      Because you haven't "approved" them,

  • Okay, assuming there's "book reader" software, I wonder if the book reader will enable "writing in the margins" or otherwise adding user notes. When translating from a paper book to electronic, that's one functionality that might disappear which is often rather useful at times.

    Is there a repository of software to be loaded on these things somewhere? It would be interesting to see what goes into these things.
    • by danimrich (584138)
      When kids use books that belong to the school they aren't allowed to write in the margins either.
  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:25PM (#15929060) Homepage
    "Hi honey. What a day. Do we have anything to eat?"
    "Um, no, but we do have this ghetto laptop."
    "Can you eat it?"
    "No."
    "That's great. Maybe we can look at pictures of food then."
  • I hate to use the term Total Cost of Ownership because certain companies have abused it so much, but have they considered how much the eBooks will cost? If they are doing this to save money the eBooks better be a lot cheaper than textbooks. In my experience DRM'd digital stuff can get very expensive, especially if you end up getting yourself locked into a single company's way of doing things and letting yourself get taken hostage by the upgrade cycle. Textbooks can last years but DRM can be disabled at any
  • The new design used an external foot pedal that just plugged in as power.

    The pictures are of the prototype. Isn't there a picture of a more recent model?
  • Printing?? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Six Feet Pete (996179) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @07:28PM (#15931465)
    How are these kids going to print stuff. The price of ink is higher than the laptop!!

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