We are now the proud, if temporary, possessors of no fewer than four OLPC XO laptops. The XO is Nicholas Negroponte's brainchild: a machine that, he and his team hopes, will change the way education is delivered in developing countries.
Apart from our general interest in all forms of mobile technology, we are examining the XO as part of a wider project in collaboration with Computer Aid, a charity that collects unwanted PCs from UK businesses, refurbishes them, and then ships them for reuse in education, health and not-for-profit organisations in developing countries.
We're in the process of testing a number of low-power computers, ranging from mini-desktops to thin-client solutions to notebooks such as the OLPC XO. Power supply, of course, is a key constraint in developing countries, and the aim is to test a number of representative systems under realistic workloads and then select a shortlist of three solutions that will go on for further field testing in Africa.
We're in the midst of the testing at the moment, but the product arrival that has caused the most stir in the office so far is definitely the OLPC XO. Initial comments included "That looks a bit Fisher-Price" and "How do you open it?" An hour or so in, we've begun to examine the mesh networking and other useful features. Stay tuned for more coverage on the XO and the low-power computing project generally.