One Laptop Per Child Review

Aaron Landry got his hands on an XO Laptop while visiting a friend in Washington, DC last week.

Once he figured out how to open it, he seemed to be impressed with the functionality of the product.

Here’s a photo Aaron took of his blog being served up on the laptop’s RSS reader:

My First Experience With an XO Laptop

It boots fairly quickly with 256mb of RAM and opens to a screen where I have what feels like an OS X Dock at the bottom to choose applications. After about 10 minutes I felt really comfortable getting around it and everything worked in a rather simple manner.

Browsing was about as fast as the iPhone on WiFi and there were a few music creation applications that I didn’t spend the time to figure out. I tested out the RSS reader on it as well and it was pretty swift.

Before trying it, Aaron decided to buy one through the One Laptop Per Child’s buy-2 get-1 donation program where $400 buys you a laptop and one for a child in a developing country. I’ve purchased one too and am looking forward to getting my hands on it.

Food vs $100 Laptops: Which to Choose?

University of Minnesota PhD candidate, Krista Kennedy, recalls a conversation that took place in a class she taught following a student’s presentation about the $100 laptop project.

An Ethiopian student shared his perspective on the value of this soon to launch technology:

against the $100 laptop

He was a remarkably reserved man, but when he spoke this time, his voice shook with anger. “People who are starving do not need laptops,” he said in his softly accented English. “When you have not eaten for so long that your brain cannot work, that you have dementia, a laptop will not help you. Sending us machines does no good! You need to send food to Africa. You need to send doctors and medicine. Not computers!” He stopped then, not wanting to insult the speaker. She looked at me, along with the American students. Clearly, there was no rebuttal for his argument, and no opposition to his ethos.

He raises a fair point, but the same point could be applied to any form of aid that doesn’t specifically address immediate needs. For example, investments made in irrigation won’t help someone who could die of starvation this week, but could save the lives of thousands for years and years once implemented.

In the case of the $100 laptops, the knowledge gained through access to the world’s information has the potential to generate wealth in a community that could translate into local independence. Some of the kids receiving laptops will end up contributing to the world’s economy, bringing wealth to parts of the world that have gone without for too long.

Additionally, laptops that are connected to the world could be used to provide first-hand accounts of issues including starvation, drought, and genocide.

Would the time and expertise of the people behind the $100 laptop project be better spend providing food to a single generation of children, or working to create change the economies for the better in impoverished countries? The choice is obvious.

via Chuck Olsen’s Twitter.

PC Pitstop on Bloatware

PC Pitstop put together an excellent video analyzing the amount of pre-installed software that ships on consumer laptops today.

While pre-installed software isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s easier to activate than download/install/activate – the biggest problems come in the form of persistent solicitations and near-impossible uninstall processes.

Troubleshooting an overly zealous McAfee install has turned me off to both Dell and McAfee in the past. Which software / hardware combinations have irritated you the most?

Palm Foleo Use Cases that Make Sense

Palm announced the future launch of a new computer earlier this week called the
Mobile Companion
that’s designed to pair with Treo phones for cellular
Internet access while providing a large screen and keyboard for a laptop style
on the road when you’re away from your laptop.

Huh? That was the first impression Ben and I had when watching the announcement.
When would someone be away from their laptop, yet carrying something like this

Here’s the pitch: it turns on and off in an instant, like a Palm device, so you
don’t waste time waiting for it to boot or come out of hibernate mode. That
might be an interesting pitch to Windows uses, but Mac users are already
accustomed to opening the lid of their laptops for an instant-on experience.

As I thought about this more, I had a harder and harder time understanding when
this product would be useful for business people who are already armed with a
laptop and smartphone.

However, I did manage to think of plenty of other applications for this. And
they all revolve around using this product as a stand-alone device rather than a
companion to a Treo:

1. Courtesy Computers: Stick a few of these in your waiting area or
boardroom for guests to check their email and surf the web on. They’re
considerably cheaper than a laptop, less virus prone, and surely use less energy
than a full computer. What would be cooler in a doctor’s office: a month old
issue of InTouch or a computer you can use to surf to

2. RV Travelers: Older couples who’ve sold their home and hit the road
aren’t using their computers to run spreadsheets and create PowerPoints. It’s
all about surfing the web for destination information and keeping in touch with
people via email. This does both. Perhaps they’d pair it with a Treo for surfing
while cruising the Interstate highway system, but even without that they could
hop on
WiFi connections at coffee shops and
Bread restaurants. It includes USB and SD card ports, so uploading photos to
Flickr should be relatively easy.

3. Minivans: Hook up the kids with something to do while you’re shuttling
them between soccer, lacrosse, rowing, choir practice, and whatever else kids do
these days. This would require someone in the car to have a web-connected
cellular device. Apparently, the first launch of the Foleo won’t support YouTube
videos, which could be viewed as a feature by parents driving web surfing kids

4. Limos: I have friends who’s laptops are so slow to boot, they’d never
consider bothering using it during a limo ride. More limos are
in-vehicle WiFi networks routing cellular Internet connections, making a
Foleo a perfect choice for people interested in killing some time by checking
headlines on the web.

Amazingly, the product has only been announced for two days, doesn’t ship until
later this summer, yet
already has four accessories for sale for the Foleo

Would you buy one? If yes, how do you expect to use it?