XO B4 Computer: New Arrival Brings Joy to OLPC Peru

   
   
   
   
   

Like proud parents bringing home their new baby, team members at the Peruvian OLPC project filmed the arrival of their new BTest-4 XO computer and posted it on YouTube for our viewing pleasure. On a second video, the proud parents did a side-by-side comparison of their new B4 with their old B2. I'm Alec McLure and I have a synopsis and some thoughts on both videos.

In the first video, very reminiscent of Christmas morning home movies, a beaming Alfonso de la Guarda unpacks the obviously solidly packed laptop 2-pack.

An interesting point, he mentions that this time around the customs charges were "only" $66 (apparently when they brought in the previous machine duties were over $150!). South American bureaucracy being what it is, they lucked out this time around. Personally, I'm impressed they were able to get it through customs without multiple visits. I'd also be curious as to what cost basis customs is using to calculate duties.

First out of the box are the chargers and batteries in their own little tray. Although he compares the charger to the previous version, he doesn't remark on any very obvious changes at this point.

He digs in, and there are the carefully packed B4s. First impressions are everything when unpacking toys – and, he loves the colors. Finally getting them out of the Styrofoam, what stands out first is the XO logo - in black and yellow.

Personally I think it's huge! It feels outsize to me given the computer's otherwise sleek look and feel. The OLPC logo makes it a bit too Fisher-Price-ish, and having it just a bit smaller would've looked better – but chacun a son gout. The color combination is also not to my taste, but I'm biased by my obsession with glowing pure white Apple logos.

After remarking on the colors, Alfonso's first touch and feel impression is that the chassis feels "better" in some indefinable way and, in particular, the whole tablet/screen pivot mechanism feels sturdier.

It's time for a test-drive and we move on to the second video, where the B4 and the B2 are set side by side (B4 is on the left, B2 on the right).

Speed: As an informal test, opening an application (in this case 'Write') shows a considerable speed improvement. Clicking on the app at the same time on machines, the load is about 2.5 seconds on the B4 and about 12.5 seconds on the B2 – a remarkable improvement. Note that I just used the YouTube timer for the 12.5 figure – had no advanced timing technology immediately available – not even a watch.

Input - Keyboard: Eduardo finds the keyboard on the B2 to be very uncomfortable and considers it to be quite improved on the B4. Personally, I'd love to see a kid comparing them, though – both an experienced typist and a beginner.

Input – Touchpad: Eduardo found the B2 touchpad to be erratic, in particular when doing continuous movement. This has improved on the B4, which he states is more intuitive in its movements.

General Design, Look, and Feel: He feels that it has improved considerably. He likes the grid under the screen, the softer antennae, and the general "more final" look of the computer, with its colorful logo, which I still think is too big.

Opening, closing, and turning the screen is more intuitive, with design parameters that encourage you to do this the right way. On the B2, this mechanism has a flimsier feel to it - the 'joint' is wobblier, there are more ways to do the process wrong, and there is less built-in 'feel and feedback' as to how to get it right.

Anyone who's used a tablet knows that the screen 'twist and fold' is one of the hardest things to get a feel for. Anything that helps take you down the right path and keeps you from unintentionally decapitating your system with a misplaced twist is a Very Good Thing. Yes, I've come close once or twice on my tablet – but it's survived with only minor surgery.

All in all the feel is of a machine that has taken another step, with faster processing and a generally sturdier and more intuitive feel in the body, and improved input mechanisms. A distinct step towards a final product.

Al OLPC Perú: ¡Buenísimo el Video y gracias por subirlo!

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8 Comments

The OLPC XO B4 is bringing joy to more than just Peru. OLPC just announced they authorized mass production of the XO laptop, based on the Beta-4 (B4) model: http://tinyurl.com/2nteg6

While OLPC says this triggers the supply chains of 800 parts that come together and rollout off the assembly line in October, I think the supply chain was already moving. On July 9th, Digitimes reported that Quanta was putting in orders with upstream suppliers, though in less volume than anticipated: http://www.digitimes.com/systems/a20070709PB207.html

Wayan, do you happen to know how many machines are being produced? I have to say that I'm a bit surprised that Quanta is starting up the production even though officially no country has committed to purchasing the X0-1...

With regards to Peruvian customs charges: While I lived over there between 2000 and 2001 I received several large parcels from my family (mainly filled with Austria chocolate and German gaming magazines;-) and I remember paying a very dogdy ~$45 fee the first time 'round (when my Spanish was still quite bad). Afterwards I never had to pay anything even though every time I went to the correos to pick up something I was greeted by the same guy.

Slashdot post on the production release:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/hardware/07/07/23/1744245.shtml

ChristophD,

I do not know Quanta's OLPC production goals, only that Negroponte was predicting 1 million units in 2007, Quanta claimed it had a firm order for 1 million units, and yet Digitimes says that "less than expected" will be produced, giving the impression of less than 1 million.

I imagine many have already noticed this, but Negroponte is quoted in the Fortune article saying that first money transfer is due this week, from either Peru or Panama.
http://money.cnn.com/2007/07/27/technology/fastforward_negroponte.fortune/

we are an EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATION THAT WORKS MAINLY IN IMPOVERISHED COMMUNITIES OF PERU AT THE COAST SIERRA MOUNTAINS AND JUNGLE SEEM TO US THAT THIS PROJECT WAS DESIGNED FOR THOSE IMPOVERISHED AREAS THORUGH THE WORLD.
QUESTION HOW WE CAN BE INCLUDDED AS PART OF THIS PROGRAMA THAT SO FAR IS BEING DONE MAINLY AT LIMA METROPOLITAN AREA?
IS ANY WAY THAT WE AS AN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO PROMOTE EDUCATION AND INFORMATION AMONG THE THE DISADVANTAGED PEOPLE.
WE APPRECIATE YOUR INTEREST

Percy, hay activistas informáticos que tienen XO-1 para hacer pruebas, pero las computadoras para uso en el terreno serán adquiridas, de serlo, por el Ministerio de Educación. Si logras hablar con ellos, cuéntame.

eduardo villanueva

(sorry for the Spanish post but I felt it was better to do it this way).

EDUARDO podrias darnos una agencia direccion o persona para contactarla en el PERU
TENEMOS ENTENDENDIDO QUE EL PROYECTO ACTUAL ESTA SIENDO PROMOCIONADO POR UNA ONG CUYA PROMOTORA ES LA ESPOSA DEL PRESIDENTE ALAN GARCIA PEREZ,TU SACA TUS PROPIAS CONCLUSIONES.
Nosotros el MOANP como organizacion civil INFORMATIVA EDUCATIVA deseamos particiapr y contamos con nuestro recursos asi mismo hay miembro integrantes que desean aportar su conocimiento en lenguas aborigenes de la SELVA PERUANA tales como los BORA, JIVARO,ASHANINKAS,SHIPIBOS CONIBO, AGAURUNAS.
CORDIALMENTE
PERCY NARANJO
MOANPE

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