The Goals of OLPC Have Not Been Met Even With XO Tablets


XO Tablet

My take on the XO Tablet is simple. If you were to mash it together with the original XO-1 laptop you'd have the perfect device--assuming you could get the price down to $100 or less.

I think that has been the great, unfulfilled promise of the OLPC universe--the promise of an inexpensive laptop that could be used by children around the world to learn. The promise is right there in the name: One Laptop Per Child.

And while OLPC has been pretty successful in putting XO Laptops into the hands of Third World kids around the world, comparing the specifics to the original plan shows that things didn't quite work out the way they were supposed to.

A rugged casing, a direct-sunlight-visible display, mesh networking technology and more, the XO laptop came with incredibly innovative hardware that made sense for the OLPC mission. Precisely none of these innovations are included with the XO Tablet.

However, where the XO Laptop lacked software that would ready kids for other, more advanced machines, the XO Tablet runs a full version of the Android mobile OS with an interface specifically designed for kids to use for education. On top of that, the tablet comes with 100 educational apps pre-installed. This will allow children to graduate to other tablets and OS with ease.


Of course, you can't deploy an XO Tablet to a rough environment.

It can't be repaired easily, and just looking at it suggests it's simply not as tough as the original XO laptop. Basically, it's your run-of-the-mill tablet with decent specs and an OK price with software that will rock your kids' (First) world. And there's your problem.

What the XO Tablet doesn't do is further the immediate goal of OLPC. In some ways, it's hard to imagine why OLPC licensed the "OLPC" and "XO" brand out to Vivitar, a company that itself is a licensed brand.

The goal of OLPC is to put inexpensive educational devices in the hands of children who otherwise wouldn't have access to said devices. A Android tablet that sells on Amazon for $150 hardly fits the bill that OLPC promised eight years ago when they announced "the $100 laptop."

And that's the real shame of it.

Sure, the XO laptop has changed the worlds of children around the globe, and the XO Tablet will likely help First World kids get prepared for the tablet-run world of tomorrow. But the actual goal of OLPC still has not been met. $100 educational devices that are so cheap that every kid in the world can have one. When you're educating kids, you're educating the future.

thepete is a writer, artist and tech fanatic and writes about his Google Glass and other things at


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wow. haven't seen thepete in a few years. Nice to see the commentary. I wish there was FLOSS apps of the same caliber for the XO laptops.

You need to consider inflation.

$100 of 8 years ago are more than $150 today after real inflation comes into.

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