[LINK] One laptop per child goes for the tablet

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon May 31 08:44:40 AEST 2010

Jan Whitaker wrote:
> One Laptop Per Child jumps on tablet bandwagon May 28, 2010 - 4:50AM 
> ... Laptop Per Child's next computer will be based on chipmaker 
> Marvell Technology Group's Moby tablet design. ...

I was not all that impressed with the OLPC XO-1 (One Laptop per Child 
Children's Machine or $100 computer), but it does have the advantage of 
a real (if rubbery) keyboard, combined with the ability to
fold the screen back over the keyboard to make it into an e-book reader
type device: 

> The new tablets will have at least one, and maybe two, video cameras
> ... Wi-Fi ... multi-touch screens  ... high-definition and 3D
> video... screens 8.5 x 11 inches (21.6 x 28 centimeters) ... work
> with plug-in peripherals such as mice. ...

High definition video sounds an extravagance and 3D a gimmick. I would 
like a real keyboard instead. Given that a tablet computer will need 
some sort of cover to protect the screen, that cover might as well be a 
keyboard, even if a rubber (membrane) one. For example, I would be 
surprised if we do not see a large range of carry cases for the Apple 
iPad, with a keyboard built into the cover.

A screen the size of a printed page is larger than really needed 
(printed pages have an unused margin around them which the case provides 
for an e-book). The screen is a significant part of the cost of the 
computer and influences battery use, they larger the screen the larger 
the cost and lower the battery life. The 10 inch screen of the typical 
netbook is adequate (I use one very day).

But the major problem I had with the OLPC project was the emphasis on
hardware and software, not educational content.

ps: The key to making low cost computers is to build them more like 
pocket calculators than laptops. Laptops have an internal chassis to 
which the components are screwed and then a case added. Calculators have 
the components mounted to the case directly, mostly just wedged in with 
no screws. Apple use some of this technique for the iPad, but with an 
expensive aluminium case. A low cost computer would use a plastic and 
rubber case: <http://blog.tomw.net.au/2006/12/50-pc-project.html>.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/user/3890

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