Nicholas Negroponte yesterday released some information on the next generation of OLPC hardware.
According to LaptopMag,
Negroponte didn’t share many details about the XO-2’s hardware, but the new system has two touch-sensitive displays. As you can see from the video and the pictures, the XO-2 will be much smaller than the original machine (half the size, according to the press release) and will have a foldable e-book form factor. “The next generation laptop should be a book,” Negroponte said.
The XO-2 will employ the dual indoor-and-sunlight displays, which was pioneered by former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen. The design will provide a right and left page in vertical format, a hinged laptop in horizontal format, and a flat, two-screen continuous surface for use in tablet mode. “Younger children will be able to use simple keyboards to get going, and older children will be able to switch between keyboards customized for applications as well as for multiple languages,” the press release reads. The XO-2 will also reduce power consumption to 1 watt.
According to Negroponte, the XO-2 is scheduled to be released in 2010.
David Talbot adds this in Tech Review:
The redesign is OLPC’s latest effort to revitalize global adoption of its machines. Last week, OLPC announced that the current version will soon have the option of running on Microsoft Windows; previously, the machines only ran on the GNU/Linux operating system, plus a custom interface called Sugar that emphasizes collaboration among children. With the addition of Windows, OLPC hopes to boost sales to countries, such as Egypt, that already use Windows software in schools.
Pixel Qi, the display-technology startup founded by former OLPC chief technology officer Mary Lou Jepsen, will collaborate in the development of the new computer. Its smaller size will make the laptops easier for children to carry than the previous, larger version, Negroponte said yesterday. And despite the smaller size, the display will be larger–when both screens are used–than the one on the current version. Because the machine will have no keypad, there will be fewer mechanical parts to break. And whereas the current XO consumes only two to four watts–one-tenth of the amount consumed by a conventional laptop–the next-generation version will use as little as one watt.
But until the new machine comes online, the existing XO will continue to be sold. Only about 600,000 hard orders have come in–a far cry from the 100 million that, two years ago, Negroponte said he was hoping to obtain by 2008. And last week’s announcement that the XO will have the option of using Windows or the existing Linux-based operating system has led to some debate among education officials. Yesterday, Oscar Becerra, a Peruvian education ministry official who directs the OLPC deployment under way there, says that he sees little value in adding Windows for computers in primary schools.
The extra cost of $10 for the Windows version is not trivial, he says: “If I have 10 dollars, I will decide what to do with it.” Right now, Becerra is scrambling to find funds to buy thousands of small solar-powered rechargers–at $20 each–for machines that he is deploying to villages that lack electricity.