I was in Birmingham today for my nephew's first birthday, just after lunch I nipped out to visit the Education Show which was running on the other side of town in the National Exhibition Centre.
The purpose of my visit was to see the Elonex One which was launched on Wednesday. I had emailed in advance to check they were OK with me bringing along an XO and an Asus EeePC.
Not only were they OK with it, they were delighted to see the other Linux based laptops I had brought and took loads of photos of the three little friends. Apparently Walter Bender had flown over to visit them the day before, but curiously my XO was the first that they had seen, I guess Walter didn't bring one with him.
On the stand they had the One in pink, white, grey and black, I had a play with the pink One.
The One is a little thicker than the XO and EeePC, but weighs about the same. The computer is behind the screen, just like the XO, rather than under the keyboard like the EeePC. It is a really interesting form factor, the keyboard and hinge is detachable and plugs into a little USB socket on the base of the main unit, so it isn't a wireless keyboard, but they are considering a bluetooth keyboard for the future.
Initially I thought there was no hinge, but there is one, it is part of the keyboard unit. The hinge looks fine, but on all clamshell laptops the hinge is the weakest part. If this one breaks you would simply get a new keyboard unit for just a few quid. The screen is a nice bright 800x480 LCD under the smooth glass(or it could be plastic I guess) front.
The weight of the XO screen leans on the battery and handle, on the One there is nothing behind it to lean on, so they have added a little stand, kind of like a picture frame stand. They were quite interested in the dual mode screen of the XO, maybe Pixel Qi could help them out here . . .
The keyboard is a rubber membrane affair, like the XO, but the rubber feels a little thicker and chunkier, there is a plastic overlay with holes in for the keys to poke through, it is more like the keyboard on the old Spectrum 48k. The mouse is a joystick rather than a touchpad, I think this might be better for grubby fingers.
A really nice touch is the second mouse on the back of the screen unit. This means you can navigate about in tablet mode, it actually felt really natural to hold it in two hands and use the mouse.
On the side are the usual complement of headphone, microphone, USB ports, the little black wheel is a tilt wheel thingie, they described it as like a Blackberry wheel so you can scroll up and down and click it to select things. I guess it acts as a mouse wheel and middle mouse button.
Inside it has an AMD processor running at 300Mhz, so it is a bit slower than the XO, however the screen resolution is lower so it might have a bit less work to do. There is 1gig of storage and 256mb of ram.
As well as the internal storage they are providing rubber USB wrist bands to provide more storage and a handy transfer device I think they may have to make them a bit smaller for the kids, but it fits me just fine. The software is based on Debian Linux and they have a graphical front end somewhat similar to the EeePC with tabs grouping sets of big chunky icons.
I wish them all the best with their new product, it is innovative and well designed, it deserves to do well. All these little Linux based laptops should not be seen as competitors with each other. They are a whole new class of device and they are all delivering on the vision of a single laptop per student.
I got back to the birthday party just in time for the cake. Happy first birthday Rhys and happy zeroth birthday Elonex One!
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