Intel offering Brazil a $400 laptop

One Laptop Per Child welcomes the project as the kind of competition that will drive prices down and availability up.

There is a newcomer in the race to bridge the digital divide in Brazil. Intel is donating $400 laptops to Brazil's government, directly competing with the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC), reports the Associated Press.

Intel will donate 700 to 800 Classmate PCs for a government evaluation program. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had already received a prototype of the $150 laptop from the U.S. nonprofit group One Laptop Per Child.

Brazil has a huge underclass and millions don't have access to a computer or the Internet. Public schools offer little or no computer training, and some don't even have electricity.

Intel's laptop is about half the size of a traditional laptop, weighs 2.9 pounds and has a seven-inch color screen. It has wireless Internet capability and employs flash memory instead of a hard drive, but does not include a CD or DVD player.

Although Intel's laptop currently is more expensive the OLPC laptops, prices should come down with mass production.

"The goal clearly is to make millions and millions of these," said John Davies, an Intel vice president for sales and marketing.

Along with the two laptops, the Brazilian government is testing one other laptop by an Indian company. "We're going to put it in the classroom and see how it does,"

"The only way the price is going to continue to go down is competition in the marketplace," Walter Bender, OLPC president of content and software. "One of our goals was to get industry to wake up to that need."