Laptop Mag: OLPC XO Price Increase - Now $175?!


Reading the "Intel vs. OLPC: A Battle of Good Wills" article today on Laptop Magazine, I noticed this paragraph about the Children's Machine XO price:

OLPC's XO laptop offers a new Linux-based software platform called Sugar, as well as special features like a built-in video camera, high-resolution dual-mode screen, longer battery life, and innovative charging options for about $175.
Does that mean that the "$100 laptop" is now officially $150 $175? Could that be due to the BTest-3 hardware upgrade? And isn't that $175 price about $5 more than predicted by OLPC News?

OLPC vs classmate pc

Or could Laptop Magazine be a little loose with its fact-checking. Looking at the side by side comparison between the Classmate PC and the OLPC XO, I noticed there is a slight exaggeration in the "Alternate Power Input" category.

Rather than noting that the Children's Machine X0 could be recharged by DC power, Laptop Magazine listed a whole gamut of ways, some real, some expected, and a few outright fanciful. Here, for your edification, is the list, reality-checked.

Car battery
Solar recharge
While the OLPC power supply doesn't currently recharge via DC power, it could be easily modified to do so with these very common DC power charging methods.
Hand-crank recharge
This was a marketing gimmick from the start, discarded by Fuseproject as unrealistic after much criticism.
Pull-string recharge
Foot-pedal recharge
Both of these methods rely on Potenco's pull string generator. This yo-yo charger is still in development but could be used for any battery-operated device
Gang charging
Now what exactly is "gang charging" and why would we want children doing "gang" anything for power?
And what might the powers that be think of a jump in an initial investment requirement to $175 million dollars, just for hardware? Could there be a gang charged up over the very price and feature creep that Nicholas Negroponte rails against in his speeches?

Or do we next see a $200 OLPC XO and Classmate PC, both running Linux, and refocus the debate from laptops to education?

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In a companion article it explains why it now costs $175.

...The XO laptop, also known as the Children's Machine and the $100 Laptop ($100 is OLPC’s ultimate target price at the end of three year’s), will be distributed to children in developing nations...

Thanks Susan, but that article, which I reference in another post, does not explain why the OLPC is now $175, up from $150 a month ago.

Whatever the reason, the X0 price is no where near $100 - almost double that now. Any future price goal is just that, a future goal, not what OLPC is asking governments to spend today on million unit orders.

Why the hell do people continue to quote 'per unit price' when they can't be bought individually?

The ONLY figure that matters is how much a government pays to Quanta and how many laptops they get. If, like Libya agreed in the MOU, they pay $208 Million (US?) dollars to buy one million laptops plus support/training then they must be the $208 (US) dollar laptop? Will countries that signed an MOU for a pre-agreed amount now have to pay more?

Maybe the OLPC will let goverments buy half a million laptops and support/training for $104 million dollars.

Reuters has now (27-April) the story that the OLPC XO will cost $176. Also, something interesting is in the news today:

"U.S. schools may join inexpensive laptop project"

We've tested pedal-power and gotten it to work.

A local company here in Nepal has developed a modified bike that connects to a regular car battery.

We have only tested charging one XO from it, which it did w/out a problem. We haven't done an exhaustive set of tests.

Bryan, Great to hear about power generation and charging innovations in Nepal.

For many years here in outback Australia bore water has been pumped to the surface for cattle to drink using wind powered pumps. Many old ones can be seen dotted around the landscape.

Perhaps the same idea can be adapted to remote areas in Nepal and using automotive alternators to charge batteries. Solar charging involves costly panels and pedal power needs a team of people to pedal the modified bicycle. Vehicle electrical components are readily available in most areas and you just need an available wind source.

Robert Arrowsmith wrote:

"Why the hell do people continue to quote 'per unit price' when they can't be bought individually?"

Because that's the way Negroponte chose to market his project.

Does the phrase "$100 laptop" ring a bell, Robert?


"Already, educators are tapping into the popular YouTube Internet video service.

"Teachers in Nigeria can look at what teachers in Brazil are doing,"

Is that misleading or what?

Little funny point: NOW teachers are an integral part of the process - only because it is convenient for THIS press release/interview.


"Children in the developing world, Bender added, will receive accounts with Google Inc.'s) free e-mail service to store journals, videos, photos, composed music and other school projects."

Even if the above is true (can you use Google's email as your personal internet-based hard drive?), does anyone worry about the possibility that Google, a FOR PROFIT company (like much-hated Microsoft) MIGHT one day decide they want to start charging for the "storage service"?


"Walter Bender, the group's president of software and content, said tests mostly begun in February in Brazil, Nigeria, Argentina, Uruguay, Pakistan, Thailand, Libya and other countries were largely successful."

BIG lie.

There's not a SINGLE shred of evidence that these "tests" have even taken place - unless you define these "tests" as: "give a bunch of kids a handful of laptops to play with while we take a few pictures for publicity".

When it comes to OLPC, the word "SUCCESS" can only be used in conjunction with VERIFIABLE data showing POSTIVE IMPACT on participating kid's EDUCATION. Anything else is, at best, pure "spin", and should be taken as such.


Bottom line: more of the same B***S*** from Negroponte's quarters.

"Negroponte now puts their price tag at $176 apiece.

They would go at a higher price to U.S. schools, he said, because more resources are invested in American education than in developing nations, even in the poorest U.S. regions."

So is the article saying the price is $176 for all schools, or just for U.S. schools? The article doesn't offer any other possible explanation for the higher price.

You've made some very good points here, and I share your concern about the price rise. However the OLPC machine is a great one - it raises the bar and will usher in a new era for laptop technology. I was lucky enough to be able to use one a couple of days ago and I was very impressed with how light and fast it was.

Right now is an exciting time for technology, particularly mobile technology covering laptops, mobile phones and PDAs. Also the web and they way they all work with the web.

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