A Look At The XO Laptop

The XO laptop,
designed by the OLPC group, the XO laptop should be considered as a powerful learning tool. And it is not just that, it is somewhat a multipurpose system, designed with children and a cheap price point in mind.
Nicholas Negroponte. had a vision to provide a $100 laptop to kids around the world. He, along with many others, did not quite hit the small price point. Instead he hit around $170. Now the things I will describe to you may not seem like much in todays high standards.

The device, green and white, I like the colors, has somewhat a suitcase feel to it. The handle on top is there for easy carrying. I like it, it makes me feel safe that I wont drop it. Even though, it is designed so it can endure the drops and spills that a normal kid often makes. The internal storage is 1 Gigabyte. Yeah, it is somewhat small, but so what? You can still use it for normal day to day tasks such as word processing. You can also plug in USB devices such as a thumbdrive.

I also found several hidden features. The buttons on the left or right of the screen can be used for such things as scrolling around pages in tools such as word processors. There was one, very surprising features which I will discuss later.

I have the thought that the motherboard is underneath the bright and clear LCD screen. The bottom layer of the PC is very thin, and I suspect that all the bottom really houses is the keyboard, the mouse, and the battery. The small and cheap laptop features some really surprising things. Under the external antennas there are 3 Universal Serial Ports (USB) I was able to plug in my thumbdrive, and I also tried out an external Logitech Classic 200 to type this post. It also has a headphone jack, and a microphone jack.
Once the laptop is open, you see the green keyboard, and the mouse touchpad. I found the keyboard a little small and very squishy. It wasn't a typical feel, it wasn't something that felt cheap, it was just that it didn't feel right. That lead me to plug in an external keyboard.
Around the screen, there are a number of buttons, and other things. The power button is here, there is a button to change the screen angle in 90 degree increments. There are other bidirectional buttons, and suprisingly, a webcam. I don't understand why they put that in, it could probably be $15 cheaper if it didn't have it.
Under the screen, there was something that looked like an SD card slot. I found an SD card so I could see if it truly was one, are sure indeed it was. Another one of these surprises. Hmmm... Why did they hide it though?
The screen also swivels on a nice hinge, it also can take shape as a tablet PC. The LCD is very bright and in places where it might be dark alot, that is good.

Programs on the XO are instead called activities. The base system is called Fedora Core 6, but it is so heavily customized, so it hardly looks like any kind of Linux. You can only distinguish that it is Linux through the kernel messages you can sometimes see on shutdown, and the Terminal Activity. You can get new activities, but only through the XO website. There are some strange activities, that I don't understand, but the very basic ones such as Browse Activity and Write Activity, are easily understandable.

The battery life is OK, the battery somewhat discharges fast, but it also charges back up pretty fast. The XO is sort of slow to start and shut down, but it wasn't designed to be the best blazing fast laptop in the day. This is a very respectable piece of technology. The more you look at it, the more you respect it. I began thinking it was ehh... but now I think I could use it every day.

The more and more I look at it, the more I become attached to it. I really don't want to give it back to my Tech teacher.

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