Friday, December 21, 2007

One Laptop per Child

OLPC Laptop

I'm writing this post from an XO laptop. One of our friends here in town got one through the give-one-get-one promotion (Only open through Dec 31!). My review of this way cool dude follows.

Hardly Limited

The whole thing is solid state, and encased in what looks like a pretty child/element proof case. It's a little hard to use as the keyboard is small, but that might get better with use. It worked right out of the box with my wireless usb wheel mouse which is pimp. It's got a webcam, microphone, sd card slot, and three usb slots. The usb slots can be used for hardware, or upgrading or repairing software with a usb flash drive. It really is pretty zippy for the limited hardware.

Sweet as Sugar

The window manager (sugar) is completely new and different from mac or windows. There are hard keys on the laptop for going back to the home screen (seen above) and it's really easy to see what you have running (the icons surrounding the XO guy in the middle. All of the available apps are the icons across the bottom. The networking is pretty easy too, however one limitation is that it really only connects to ssid broadcast access points with the gui. I had to drop down to the terminal to sign on to our home network. Another cool feature is that you really don't have to explicitly save. Whenever you close an application the current state is saved to your journal. You can return there at any time and go right back to where you were.

Activities Galore
Some of the activities are really cool including a kind of graphical logo called Turtle Art:

There is another activity that is really cool called Pippy, which is an interactive inroduction to the python programming language.

There are at least 3 different tools to create music including an application that allows you to graphically mess with fm synths, reverb, and other cool toys. There's even an oscilloscope that uses the built-in mic for input!

Using the browser, you can download other software too including an old version of SimCity and dedicated gmail and google maps clients.

There are a couple of other cool apps. Tons of the coolest features don't become evident until you have a bunch of these little guys around.

Final Impressions

First off, the open platform is simply amazing. There is a button on the keyboard that will show you the source for most of the applications! Since it's built with Linux, they have really been able to leverage some cool projects. Currently, it's definitley an early adopter type product with a few bugs (we crashed the music app pretty easily). The ones that we get here in the states don't come with the solar panel or hand crank chargers *bummer*. Overall, I can definitley see where this little guy could change the world, like cellphones have.

1 comment:

Isaac Epp and Kerry Laws said...

Cool! Thanks for the review, I have been really curious and don't know anyone who's picked one up as of yet :)