UK's Elonex releases £99 OLPC rival

UK's Elonex releases £99 OLPC rival

Summary: The PC maker claims its Linux-based notebook will help close the digital divide while fighting Microsoft's operating system 'monopoly'

TOPICS: Hardware

PC maker and services company Elonex is to launch a £99 laptop aimed at students, at an upcoming educational conference.

The British manufacturer will unveil the "One" laptop at The Education Show, which is to be held in Birmingham from 28 February to 1 March. According to Elonex, the Linux-based laptop will boast a three-hour battery life, Wi-Fi, a flash-based hard drive, a "hard-wearing case" and a "wireless music server", and will weigh less than one kilogram. However, the company has refused to release any hard specifications for the device ahead of the show.

"The One removes the cost barrier that has prevented the one-laptop-per-person, large-scale uptake of computers in the education system that has for so long been just a pipe dream," said Sam Goult, Elonex's marketing manager, in a statement last week. "Investment in digital technology is paramount to help the next generation achieve their full potential."

Speaking to on Monday, an Elonex spokesperson justified the company's reluctance to reveal hard specifications by claiming that "the main thrust of the whole One project is not really about the specs — the most important thing about it is it [costs] £100".

Referring to the device's use of Linux, the spokesperson said that — aside from the fact that avoiding Windows brings down the cost of the laptop — the decision was influenced by government guidelines that encourage a "move away from the monopoly Microsoft has".

According to Elonex, the One laptop "fits in line with the goal of the [Department for Children, Schools and Families] to close the gap between those from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers". To this end, for every 100 laptops sold, the company will donate one of the devices to underprivileged children.

The One laptop is not the first low-cost laptop to be aimed at the educational market — the One Laptop per Child project's XO device, Asus's Eee PC and Intel's Classmate PC all fit the same bill. But, so far, the Elonex machine looks to be the cheapest option for UK customers, due in part to the lack of local pricing from the other vendors.

Elonex claims its £99, Linux-based laptop removes the cost barrier to large-scale uptake of computers in the education system

Topic: Hardware

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Are the schools ready for tis though?

    I bought the similar Linux powered eee pc for my daughter, to be told that the school would only accept homework in Word and Publisher (not openoffice). Some education needed there perhaps.
  • Linux not too cool for school

    Open Office can save in Word format; I've been palming people off with OO-generated Word documents for years, and nobody's ever spotted my cunning deception. So your kid can do her stuff on her Linux computer and the teachers won't know any different.

    It's not unreasonable for teachers to insist on a single format, and since the schools in the UK are so badly advised on IT by their suppliers (for reasons I wish were only incompetence, but fear otherwise), that single format will be Microsoft. It is unreasonable that Microsoft doesn't support OO formats, of course, but that's not something St Trinian's can do much about.

    So do what I do, when dealing with organisations that are too retrogressive to cope with open formats: give 'em what they want, but on your terms.

    (MS Publisher format appears to be thoroughly closed, so the school is forcing you to buy Microsoft software. You may have a case to complain about that. )
  • School will only accept word etc.

    You can export Open Office documents to pdf format. That's what I do for all my reports at work.

    Word is the worst word processor on the market!
  • Not just schools.

    I am currently job hunting and have lost count of the number of times my CV has been rejected or ignored by the agencies as it is in PDF format. Without exception they have all demanded Word format.
    Not .DOC but specific WORD.
    Who is to say that the teacher in question actually understands the concepts involved, after all courses are no longer on word processing, desktop publishing, spreadsheets etc but are on WORD, PUBLISHER, EXCEL as the schools have got that software and it is unlikely that the teachers have actually seen or used anything else.