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10/24/2007
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'One Laptop Per Child' Hit With Production Glitch, Shortages

The XO, originally planned for Nov. 12, will arrive too late to catch much of the holiday season when charity giving is at its height.

Manufacture of the budget laptop computers produced by the One Laptop per Child Foundation has run into a glitch with the production delay likely to impact the OLPC's "Give 1 Get 1 program," organizers said this week.

The program was to begin Nov. 12 and run for two weeks. But production in China won't get under way till later, meaning that XO computers will arrive too late to catch much of the holiday season when charity giving is at its height. The delay will also make it difficult to catch the summer season in Peru and Uruguay, where children would have been expected to use the machines in their summer vacation season.

"We had some last-minute bugs. ... We've resolved them," Mary Lou Jepsen, OLPC's chief technology officer said in an interview with Reuters. Jepsen added that an unspecified number of XO laptops will be shipped in time, however.

The program announced earlier this year lets North Americans purchase two OLPC XO laptops for $399 -- one of which will be donated to a child in a developing country.

The XO, originally planned to cost $100, has seen its cost rise to $188. The computer has been designed to withstand tough treatment by children and has several innovative features, including a pull-string power system and a keyboard that switches effortlessly among languages.

In addition to the string-pulley power source, the XO -- appropriately colored green -- uses just 2 watts of power. The display can be viewed in color indoors and in black and white in direct sunlight.

As prices for the XO have risen, prices for standard PCs have declined as they have become commodities. Best Buy, for instance, was recently selling a full-featured PC for $299, and Wal-Mart was selling a Linux-based Everex laptop for $298.

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