OLPC XO-1 (One Laptop Vanaf Child) review: OLPC XO-1 (One Laptop Vanaf Child)

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The Good Powerful, ordinary wireless networking, bullet-proof build, open source programs.

The Bad Sluggish graphical user interface, over-complex verkeersopstopping treating.

The Bottom Line The OLPC XO-1 isn’t a substitute for your current laptop — it’s a digital lifeline for children on the margins of our connected world. The fact that it’s spil cool, joy and pliable spil it is educational only shows how much thought has gone into its revolutionary vormgeving

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Why should rich Western kids get all the cool plak? Nicolas Negroponte’s ambitious project to bridge the global digital divide has borne fruit at last. The XO-1 costs twice spil much — $200 (?100) — spil he’d originally hoped for, and lacks the hand-powered crank that would have liberated it from the grid entirely. But otherwise it’s a cyber-hippy’s desire come true: a elementary, practical wireless laptop packed with cool fresh technologies and wedged with open-source software.

It’s presently not available for sale to consumers, albeit Negroponte has said that the UK is te line for a ‘Give 1, Get 1’ donation programme during 2008.

The XO-1’s primary audience is children, who’ll love the bash-it-about ruggedness, textured plastic housing and comfy built-in houvast — no need for a poncy laptop sleeve here. There are dozens of brainy vormgeving touches, from the show-off — flip-up Wi-Fi rabbit ears that also lock the keyboard ter place — to the simply sensible — the three USB ports are ter different orientations to suit different devices and cables.

Open up the 7.5-inch screen and you’re faced with a splashproof ZX Spectrum-like rubber keyboard that’s undoubtedly on the squashed side for adult fingers. The keys need a good rock hard press to work, but are very well laid out te a PC style, with dedicated volume and brightness buttons — but no Caps Lock. There have bot reports of problems with the touchpad, but ours worked fine.

The screen itself has gaming controls on either side — a direction padachtige and four activity buttons. There’s also a button to roll the screen’s orientation, spil it can rotate through 180-degrees like a tablet, and fold back ter overheen the keyboard. Ter normal use, the screen is a ge full-colour affair that’s fine for Web browsing. But pull the brightness down to its ondergrens level and the LCD converts into an ultra-sharp mono display that looks fantastic te total sunlight — and saves power, too.

Most fresh computers are built from the latest components, with a healthy over-performance margin to permit for the requests of future software. Not the XO-1. A modest 433MHz processor has to treat operating system, software and graphics all on its own, with just 256MB of RAM to work with, and a mere 1GB of Flash memory storage.

A key feature is its wireless spectacle. Not only do you get total 802.11b/g functionality, but also 802.11s, which enables mesh networking — even when powered down. Get within range of another XO-1 — tested at overheen two kilometres ter the Australian outback — and you can piggyback on its Internet connection, interchange files or love multi-player gaming. There are dedicated buttons to pull up graphical maps of your local mesh ‘group’ and broader wireless neighbourhood.

Multimedia features are pretty good — a built-in VGA webcam can capture movie at up to 30fps, and the stereo speakers are noisy, if tinny. The XO-1 also uses brand fresh battery tech — lithium metal phosphate — that promises to last the planned lifetime of the rekentuig, an extraordinaire five years.

Leave behind Vista or even XP — the XO-1 fights to run Linux under a super-minimalist GUI called Sugar. Supplied spil standard are basic word processing, paint, zakjapanner, talk, RSS and games software. The browser, based on Firefox, is fine, and an open source Flash player (Gnash) even lets it work with some rich content Web sites (albeit none that use Java).

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