OLPC XO Tablet to Become Available in US Stores in March

   
   
   
   
   

Resumen en español al final del artículo

Contrary to what I had expected OLPC is using the ongoing CES 2013 trade show in Las Vegas not just to present its XO-4 and XO-4 Touch models but also to introduce a new product. According to this article by Engadget the "XO Tablet" is a 7" Android-based tablet with custom interface (so no Sugar!!) and its own app store which will be available in US Stores in March. The price has not been announced yet but is said to be "competitive".

I've embedded Enadget's brief hands-on video for your viewing pleasure below but I'd also really recommend you to read the full article which contains some additional information and take a look at their XO Tablet gallery.


My first reaction to this announcement is quite simply that I'm not sure what to make of it. Hardware-wise the device itself simply seems to be just another generic 7" Android tablet. (Though the green rubber cover and especially the ring in the corner visible in the video still above and this photo are definitely a tip of the hat to the early XO-3 tablet design studies.)

On the software-side of things the custom interface and curated app store look nice but I'm not sure just how much value they can add compared to the full Google Play app store. Especially since I frankly speaking doubt that OLPC has the know-how or necessary resources to build up and maintain a second educational software and developer ecosystem besides Sugar. Yes, the content partners which OLPC announced on its blog over the past few months will likely provide some help here but I don't see that being enough to really make it fly.

Last but not least I'm very surprised to see this apparent move into the consumer market. Traditionally OLPC has always focused on large orders by governments and NGOs as the organization is simply not set up to deal with individual users and many people who participated in the 2007 Give 1, Get 1 program can attest to that. Again, maybe OLPC Association has some partnerships up its sleeve because I can't seem them executing this well on their own.

Overall I can only repeat what I said earlier: I'm not sure what to make of this announcement. But maybe I'm simply missing something which is why I hope to learn more about OLPC Association's vision and plans for the XO Tablet during Engadget's on-stage interview with Bob Hacker (OLPC Association's CFO) and Giulia D'Amico (OLPC Association's VP of Business Development) on January 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM EST.


Resumen en español: En el CES 2013 en Las Vegas OLPC mostró un nuevo producto: El XO Tablet, una tablet de 7" con Android y un interfaz nuevo diseñado por niños.

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Resumen en español al final del artículo


Soon ... [more]


Much more more than just a crack in the facade.

Like any project, One Laptop per Child has had its ups ... [more]

18 Comments

Hi Christopher, thanks for the article. I feel just like you... Is there any official link from OLPC?

No, I haven't seen any press releases, blog announcements or other communication from OLPC about the XO Tablet yet...

ditto to your confusion as to what to make of this.

Putting a green cover with a ring to a tablet don't transform it into a XO-3...
Putting a XO icon on Android don't transform it into Sugar...

What we are seeing here is the Marvell influence on a new OLPC strategy to 1) reach parents & kids more directly i.e. not necessarily through school deployments, and 2) open deployments in developed countries, where small tablets are appealing alternatives to netbooks running proprietary kids interfaces over Windows (or Windows CE on ARM), Apple's pricey iOS devices, garden-variety Android offerings, or Sugar's (unfortunate) irrelevance, unfamiliarity and tech-support complexity. The OLPC tablet probably doesn't offer collaboration, view source, or an open software ecosystem like Sugar. However, as Giulia mentioned more than once in the video, it addresses a key concern of parents and teachers: promising a safely filtered learning environment which parents can quickly check to see how time is spent. OLPC may be walking a tightrope between satisfying their partners and not alienating the Sugar ecosystem. They _could_ promote Sugar, but they don't, except on sales calls where Sugar always wins against Windows XP on XOs, and often wins against Intel Classmates (which offer teacher tools, absent in Sugar). If OLPC mentions software at all during tech shows, it's Fedora, which only techies understand, except they don't, since they don't realize there's a children's interface over that. I have no insider information :-) but I would not be surprised if part of OLPC's imminent announcement concerns a first large order for the tablets, perhaps for consumers through Amazon, perhaps with an education department or ministry. It's certainly disappointing to see Sugar sidelined from the new tablets. As tablets are arguably a better solution for smaller kids (touch far easier than keyboard/mouse, more rugged form factor), the real question is: could Sugar do a better job on a tablet than proprietary learning apps in a simplified interface over Android? OLPC's response is clearly No.

according to this slashdot article, it is going to be sold at walmart

http://mobile.slashdot.org/story/13/01/09/011229/olpc-to-sell-7-inch-xo-tablet-in-wal-mart

I have a hard time seeing what is all the fuzz about OLPC Android and Sugar
Sugar is not ready for tablets and was never designed for it. It almost finished its transition to Gtk3 that should allow better tablet customization, but still has way to go.
Sugar, despite the highly tooted python portability, does not run on Android either and Fedora-ARM, although well advanced is far from prime-time. So Sugar-on-Tablets is in alpha stage at best.
In the mean time OLPC-related work is ongoing with android tablets (The "helicopter" project), so some of the expertise is already there.

So, should OLPC pass the opportunity to get into the "developed world" schools? Should OLPC cede "early computer education" to commercial entities only? Should OLPC pass the opportunity of improved its financing? (I hope)
I think not. If anything a healthy/strong OLPC, can only help OSS/Sugar.
Besides XO-4 was just released running Fedora/Sugar.

"fuss" not "fuzz" ( :oops: )

Hey great, you could also have the XO tablet in Pink with Hello Kitty on the cover: http://www.sakar.com/new-tablets-from-sakar !

I'm pretty disappointed that I, as a non-philanthropic American will not now, or maybe ever be able to buy the recently announced and still amazing looking XO-4 computer, yet this thing which looks incredibly boring and brings nothing new to the table is going to be on sale at Walmart.

It is being manufactured and presumably distributed by Vivitar.

I think this is getting closer to being usable. How hard will it be for the nerds to write open source software for it?

After reviewing the video and the full article that you have included in your post, I can also say that I am not so sure myself whether this is going to be a hit among the masses. As you have mentioned, they were primarily for government use and NGO's but maybe, in their perspective, it's about time that they introduce this to the general market.

I would like to know what retail store
will carry the OLPC XO-1 COMUPTERS
PLEASE E-MAIL ME. THANK YOU, I HAVE GRAND
THAT COULD REALLY USED THEM.

OLPC has never sold XOs at retail stores and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

How else is the product going to "Become Available in US Stores" per your own title?

Nevermind, - I see the poster asked about the XO-1 not the XO-4. My bad.

Which brings a question to mind, it is now March, is there any update?

Kathy, I have kept an eye on http://xo-learning.org/xo-blog/ and https://twitter.com/xolearning but haven't seen any announcements regarding the availability of the XO Tablet...

XO Tablets for Sale

Buy Your XO Tablet on Amazon.com
OLPC is selling the new XO Tablets on Amazon.com for just $149. Buy yours today!

xo-tablet-amazon.jpg

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