Do you remember Nicholas Negroponte's arrogant resistance to low-cost laptop competition in the WSJ OLPC smackdown?
At a meeting this month in Cambridge, Mass., with representatives of Macedonia's government, Mr. Negroponte balked at authorizing a pilot project there after learning that officials also were considering testing the Classmate. He told them he didn't want to participate in a "bake-off."averse to pilot testing. The kids over at Laptop Mag took matters into their own hands with a OLPC XO vs. Asus Eee PC 701 bake off of their very own. Here's the crib sheet results:
- Design: The XO's durability more than makes up for its extra weight. Its swivel screen, antennas, and keyboard also make it one of the more visually appealing notebook designs since Apple's PowerBook line.
- User Interface: While not earth-shattering, the Eee PC's simple and well-organized UI beats out the higher-concept, but less practical, XO interface.
- Learning Curve: Maybe it was because of our familiarity with traditional PCs that we found the Eee PC easier to use, but even in the hands of children, the XO was still tricky.
- Applications: The XO has some great games and learning tools for kids, while the Eee PC's apps are more compatible with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite. Ultimately, the Eee PC's browser is faster than the pokey one on the XO, which is why Asus gets the nod in this round.
- Connectivity: The XO's mesh networking capability is one of the coolest things around. It's one of the best social-networking and productivity tools we've ever seen implemented.
- Specs & Performance: Although both machines have modest specs, the Eee PC offers performance more on a par with a traditional laptop.
- Pricing: It's not just the social-entrepreneur factor of the XO's Give 1, Get 1 program; it's also one of the more intriguing approaches to using technology to educate children in developing nations that makes it the winner in this category. Plus, for the next year, you can surf the net in Starbucks to your heart's content.
- The Winner:This contest was fairly close, but we feel that even though its goals are much more limited in scope, the Eee PC 701 accomplishes them more fully than the XO, as its interface and applications are much more intuitive. Of course, the Eee PC 701 also costs about $200 more, but it's well worth the premium.
"All children who get an [XO] WILL NEED TRAINING!!!!!" Even kids--and adults--who have used laptops before will have to poke their way around the XO to figure it out.And that to me, is what cost OLPC this contest, and maybe a few more in national capitols too.