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Innovation

OLPC spawns another non-OLPC

No matter how you feel about the One Laptop Per Child project, there is no doubt that it is influencing computing, especially mobile computing, in a number of important ways. Intel has already announced a competing product aimed at emerging markets (much to Nicholas Negroponte's chagrin) and today, ASUS announced a laptop to be sold worldwide for $189.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

No matter how you feel about the One Laptop Per Child project, there is no doubt that it is influencing computing, especially mobile computing, in a number of important ways. Intel has already announced a competing product aimed at emerging markets (much to Nicholas Negroponte's chagrin) and today, ASUS announced a laptop to be sold worldwide for $189. The chairman of ASUS announced the laptop during the Computex show in Taipei today and, although he gave few details about options, availability, etc., he made it clear that this laptop, unlike OLPC, will be aimed at more traditional markets.

A few in the blogosphere have noted that you get what you pay for and this is hardly a full-featured laptop. It actually falls into the category of a MID (Mobile Internet Device) since it is only about 4.7"x3.9". That's pretty little. However, it runs a custom Linux distribution, Firefox, and "an office suite that's compatible with MS Office", though [the ASUS chairman] refused to confirm or deny whether that meant OpenOffice," according to PCPro. What this does do, however, is bring us a little closer to the cheap UMPC that could actually be really useful in a classroom. Since it has a keyboard and a decent-sized screen, it will certainly be more effective than a PDA in class and can support research, on-demand testing, and simple word processing.

Of note is the 2GB flash-based hard drive. The small size would really necessitate network or additional USB storage (portable thin clients, anyone?), but is an early foray into solid state hard drive technology (also to be appearing in an upcoming Dell portable). It's not exactly the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and one-to-one computing, but it's certainly progress towards a platform that could literally put technology into the hands of a lot of kids, both here in the States and elsewhere.

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