Exclusive hands-on with OLPC's XO-1.5 HS


Ever since I first heard about OLPC working on a version of the XO that would use a normal keyboard, later dubbed the XO-1.5 HS (HS for high-school), I've been dying to get my hands on one of them. I was hoping to get a chance to use one while I was in Uruguay, but to my disappointment the Plan Ceibal folks only had a very early hand-made (and hand-painted) prototype in their office.

XO-1.5 HS and a very happy geek

So it shouldn't be hard to imagine my delight (in case of doubt just take a look at the photo on your right) when I stumbled across a real-life XO-1.5 HS in ParaguayEduca's office here in Asución. Needless to say I spent the next 15 minutes playing around with the machine, taking photos from all possible angles (including a close-up of the layout) and shooting the video embedded below.

Of course I was very keen on doing some typing on the new keyboard and I was very pleasently suprised by the experience. The only two minor issues I had was that the key to access the Journal was moved a couple of keys to the right from its XO-1 / XO-1.5 location and that the arrow-keys are aligned in a row as opposed to the traditional layout. With the Journal key it will probably only take a day or two to get used to the change however the new arrow-key layout is definitely more of a hassle, especially when playing games.

The second change of the XO-1.5 HS compared to the other models is that the keyboard is easily replaceable. While it previously took a 7 step guide with 50 photos and nerves of steel to replace a keyboard this can now be done by accessing two screws located in the XO's battery-latches. According to this entry on the OLPC blog this results in keyboard replacements being possible in just 2 minutes.

Overall I have to say that I was really impressed by the quality of the keyboard. In the past three years I've become quite used to the membrane keyboards on my XO-1 and XO-1.5 and can type reasonably fast on them. However the XO-1.5 HS keyboard is a whole other world and while it may not be quite up there with the best netbook keyboards available today it's definitely very useable.

Related Entries

3 TrackBacks

After extending its "Una laptop por nino" program to reach all primary schools in the next few months - though partially in a seven ch... [more]

In late March Uruguay's Plan Ceibal held a press conference where the initiative's major plans for 2011 were unveiled. To say that I'm excited about the [more]



I'm sorry, but, change the keyboard of the old OLPC with a better one, is not enough to make it a good computer

in my opinion, the OLPC/XO-x need a COMPLETE and DEEP redesign



Did you see the spec's of the XO-1.5 vs the original XO?

The insides have already been changed!

Greg, not quite sure what you mean... :-?

The first post suggests the XO needs to be totally changed.

I was saying that the NEW XO-1.5 is just about a new laptop. It has more memory, replaceable micro SD card storage, faster processor, besides the keyboard has changed as highlighted here.

That is a complete and deep change to me!

Ah, okay, you're talking about the first comment... Well, looking at the blog linked from the username I can't help but not take his comment quite seriously! ;-)

I write all my comments always very seriously

no, I look for a TOTAL redesign... like the XO-3 but not so expensive (evaluating it on REAL iPad-like costs)

It would be great if you could share how you're trying to achieve that, what you would do differently from OLPC, etc. Your blog isn't particularly enlightening when it comes to these details.

"Your blog isn't particularly enlightening when it comes to these details."

I've several basic ideas but I can't develop them due to a lack of funds, also, I can't reveal now some innovative ideas and concepts, before patent them, because, they could be applied also to commercial computers (and I don't want to make a "gift" to Apple, HP, etc.)
however, what will different in my concepts are, also, the basic philosophy of my project, like (e.g.) use (as much as possible) ONLY common industrial parts already manufactured in million units

We just received 94 XO 1.5 laptops for our pilots in several countries. A much improved product:
as fast as good netbooks
good flash player (watching movies on youtube nice but not possible to get HD quality
good touch pad
bigger memory
swithcing between Sugar and Gnome very fast
Gnome works nice for 12+ people
sharp video record
In short, also for primary education in the Netherlands very useful and nr. 3 as cheapest laptop
Great to see the HS version is nice to work with!

Yeah, I totally agree with you, the XO-1.5 is a big step up from the XO-1 and in combination with the keyboard this really makes for an awesome machine for traveling, and yeah, schools maybe;-)

With the XO-1.5 around, does it cost the same $200 as the XO-1?

I know it uses more electricity, but I would say it is well worth it. HD video is not important, but seeing videos is important!

My son, who is just 29 months old, recently had to endure no PC while its hard drive was being repaired. The 1st thing he did after it was corrected was to jump online to see his favorite videos. Today, he is looking at PBS Kids, but that is OK using my XO-1. Not all websites use Flash 6, though!

Greg: yes, the XO-1.5 costs roughly as much to produce as the XO-1 did when it came out.

Its peak draw pulls more power, but it draws less power while charging, charges faster, and both idles (at under 3W) and suspends smoothly (any time you close the lid), which give me roughly 50% more effective battery life.