One Tablet Per Child?

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rugged than the XO-1—and will certainly be far more power-efficient, running on about 1 watt of power compared to the XO-1’s 5 watts, according to Marvell.

In essence, OLPC is piggybacking on Marvell’s project as a convenient way to transition into the tablet era, while it continues to work behind the scenes on the XO-3, a far more ambitious tablet design intended to take the XO-1’s place by 2012. Conceived by San Francisco-based industrial designer Yves Behar, who also designed the XO-1 and the now-abandoned dual-screen XO-2, the XO-3 would be an 8.5-by-11-inch tablet with a Pixel Qi touchscreen, a ring-shaped grip in one corner, and what Engadget has rightly called an “absurdly thin” profile—the device would be about half the thickness of an iPhone.

XO-3 Concept DesignIn a blog post, OLPC’s Samuel Klein emphasized that the foundation’s version of the Moby tablet, which it expects to show off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2011, is “not the XO-3,” which “is still planned for 2012.”

I e-mailed Negroponte today to ask him how OLPC’s move from a laptop form factor to a tablet serves the organization’s learning agenda. “Today we are a laptop with a tablet option,” he replied. “Tomorrow we are a tablet with a laptop option. The key is: can a tablet be a veritable constructionist medium. We think it can.”

In a statement released by Marvell, Negroponte also implied that OLPC sees its version of the Moby tablet as an antidote to the iPad, which has been widely cast as a device for consuming rather than creating media.

“While devices like eReaders and current tablets are terrific literary, media and entertainment platforms, they don’t meet the needs of an educational model based on making things, versus just consuming them,” Negroponte said. “Today’s learning environments require robust platforms for computation, content creation and experimentation—and all that at a very low cost. Through our partnership with Marvell, OLPC will continue our focus on designing computers that enable children in the developing world to learn through collaboration, as well as providing connectivity to the world’s body of knowledge.”

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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4 responses to “One Tablet Per Child?”

  1. Looks promising, but always remember that training and management cost are 3-4 times the hardware cost. Plus, these devices will need some cutting edge software to make them sing.

    Since the tablet will be given away to students. Maybe there are some promising high school students that want to code. A One Laptop per Hacker (“OLPH” or ‘olf’) would pair a dev environment with a mentor and support group.

    How do we kick that off?