OLPC is the Star at Consumer Electronic Show


This week's guest post comes from Christoph, a self confessed movie addict with an insatiable appetite for all things OLPC. Sayeth Christoph:

While we await the first video of kids using the X0 machines, we'll have to make do with watching adults behave like children whist they demonstrate them.
Luckily, last week's CES 2007 show in Las Vegas provided just such an opportunity as video blogger "charbax" took the opportunity to record his ramblings on - and a good number of demonstrations of - One Laptop per Child's amazing XO Childrens' Machine laptop.

Without further ado, here are Christoph's mini-reviews of charbax's "OLPC Videos from CES 2007".

Title: "OLPC" - Length: 19m40s - Size: 515MB

That was the first video that I watched from this series and while it's very informative it still made me kick and scream... The reason: the guy filming the video! It's not enough that he spends one-and-a-half minutes cluelessly poking around on an OLPC XO machine (I'd recommend you to jump right from 4min50sec to 6min30seand spare yourself the pain). No, he has to go on to ask useless questions and make weird comparisons (my favourite: trying to make a comparison between one of the wireless chips' features and Skype phones). It's impressive how calm Michalis Bletsas (Chief Connectivity Officer at OLPC) stays, I certainly would have lost my temper. Other than that the video again shows how well the XO's display works in direct sunlight compared to a regular laptop. Bletsas also does an excellent job of giving a short introduction to the wireless chips' impressive feature set. All in all, certainly worth watching!

Title: "OLPC Csound" - Length: 7m11s - Size: 186MB

The demo of two OLPC XO machines running a real-time music synthesizer is quite nice and Michalis Bletsas also seems to be enjoying it. The presentation again demonstrates the X0's versability, in this case as a potent tool for composing music. I loved Bletsas' comment that 'normal MIDI is like a calculator, the OX synthesizer is like Mathematica'. Note: If you like the sequencer/synthesizer action in this video you should definitely watch both TamTam videos from earlier this week!

Title: "OLPC Marvell" - Length: 9m41s - Size: 251MB

Unless you've got way too much time on your hands I wouldn't watch this video. It basically reiterates details of Marvell's Libertas wireless chips. There's some discussion of other wireless standards such as 802.11n and WiMax and why they're not suited for the OLPC XO (chips are too expensive and consume too much power). But all in all, you should seize the chance and spare yourself 9m41s of painful listening to the interviewer's babbling.

Title: "OLPC Pepper" - Length: 14m46s - Size: 385MB


You'll have to go to the ces2007.video-blog.eu site to view this video (click the "play" link under the DivX logo), or click here to download it. Beware, it's a big file for narrow-band OLPC News readers.

As Wayan reported previously, Pepper Computer showcased a demo of their Fedora Core based Linux distribution running on XO machines. The video shows the XO machine running a picture viewer, an ebook reader, playback of a DivX encoded movie trailer, surfing the internet with Firefox and even watching Google Video content. This presentation really shows the XO machine's impressive versatility as a general hardware device for "regular users", without all the educational purpose and whatnot.

This video really made me want to have an XO. Now!

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This may be a silly question, but the units do support regular 802.11 b/g networks for access as well, right?


Thanks a lot for posting my videos here! And thanks for commenting on my stupid skype phone questions.. Michail Bletsas was very nice to speak so extensively about the Laptop in between his presentations to BBC (reported story about commercial OLPC), LinuxToday (reported story that got slashdotted) and other top-quality reporters who really know what they are talking about, and probably (I am just guessing) some meetings with top executives from most top-level PC manufacturers and PC distributors, who probably all want to know if there will be commercial opportunities for this system, how soon and for how much. I would for example expect, that if the successfull OLPC can be built and sold by millions to governments for 130$ within 6 months, then probably that Dell or Walmart can produce a few million also and sell them for twice the price, maybe also with an iVDR slot for removable hard disk drive usage, a larger screen and larger keyboard.. Basically everyone wanted to know (I think) how soon this platform can revolutionize the whole PC business in a way that cheaper and faster is much more important than higher processor speeds and 3D multi-windowed OS requiring lots of expensive RAM to run useless bloatware.

Hi, just to tell you that the Pepper video is now also on Google Video, which you may embedd in your blog also if you want! And it's submitted as a story to Digg also if you want to digg it by searching for Pepper.

It appears that Charbax has inadvertantly stumbled across an interesting point in his commentary.
How long would it take for a commercial manufacturer to duplicate the OLPC laptop concept and produce a competitive device for the low end market?
We've already seen cutthroat marketing between the big computer giants that has led to super cheap deals. Will we be seeing a Dell kids laptop for $99 next Christmas?
Would Microsoft want to keep market dominance by making sure kids laptops run Windows XO?
How cool could a manufacturer make a kids laptop? Maybe even better than the OLPC product?

Would we all buy one for our kids...or ourselves?

I can anyways confirm, that the screen quality is amazing. And if they can truly manufacture it at the price point they are talking about (is it 15-35$ per screen?), if the always-on Wi-Fi Mesh turns out that it's working awesomely to effectively extend Wi-Fi hotspots coverage with usable bandwidth for all users, and with impressive wake-up feature for incomming VOIP calls, IM messages, eMail, RSS feed or other such feature.. This is going to be just amazing.

The screen engineer guy told me the screen can definately also be made at larger Laptop screen sizes, the black and white 0.2 watts ebook mode is absolutely Very readable outdoors.

And the responsiveness I have experienced manipulating Fedora Core implementation from Pepper, proved to me the Browser can be extremely good, with such an amazingly high resolution screen. It seems to be very responsive even browsing with multiple tabs using this light version of Firefox. Google Video and Youtube flash video seems not to playback smoothly, that might be because flash video might not be optimized yet, but I thought it was awesome to see 480x360 resolution Mpeg4 .avi container video playback absolutely smoothly on the basic OLPC hardware. Now if 720x576 resolution at 25fps can be optimized to work also, this will be just perfect I think. Video quality just looks great and the sound comes out great, everything seems to be perfectly synched. This just means kids can have thousands of videos on the 200$ School server's hard disk drive, and get a 20$ USB DVD drive and get 6-7 DivX films with subtitles on each 5 cent DVD to enjoy with the family and friends.. Even more like 10-15 films per DVD if compressed to 480x272 resolutions at 800kbit/s or less.. Now they can just take turns pulling 10 minutes on the yoyo before each film can play in medium backlight birghtness mode with medium audio speaker volume. Now there's an awesome application in my opinion. And watching films with subtitles can be very educative for the whole family and friends I think. All depending on the culture, infrastructure of course.

Regarding choppy playback of Flash video from YouTube and Google Video it is indeed a Flash optimization issue, not a horsepower issue. Both the Pepper Pad 3 and the OLPC running the Pepper 3.1 software have the horsepower to playback, for example, a Quicktime MP4 720x304 video with a 1 Mbps bitrate with little or no chop.

The screen is the only OLPC component that isn't already available to anyone interested in making their version of the machine. A "clone" like the Intel Classmate might also have other missing pieces like the power management, but that just means they didn't bother to work on it yet.

The software is available to all.

hi , i read in your paper that WiMax are not suitable for OLPC laptops, i am going to use OLPC laptops in WiMAx connection?

So can you give me resaons why should not i do it?