Buy Your Child A Laptop, Give Another To A Poor Kid Free - InformationWeek

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Buy Your Child A Laptop, Give Another To A Poor Kid Free

The innovative laptop is currently being shipped in small numbers as the project prepares for mass production later in the fall.

Wedged between the relentlessly rising price of its laptops and the relentlessly dropping prices of full-featured PCs, the One Laptop Per Child project is offering a "Give 1 Get 1" program whereby North Americans can purchase a OLPC XO laptop and donate another to a child in a developing country.

Announced Monday, the $399 purchase price buys two laptops. The program will begin Nov. 12 and run for two weeks.

"For $399, you will be purchasing two XO laptops -- one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to your child at home," wrote Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of OLPC, on the project's Web site.

The innovative laptop is currently being shipped in small numbers as the project prepares for mass production later in the fall. The cost of the machine -- initially targeted at $100 -- has gradually increased to $188, the latest figure given out by the OLPC. Independent observers have said the XO is selling for a few dollars more in some countries.

Price conscious consumers may be lured to ever-dropping price tags of full-featured PCs. Best Buy this week, for instance, is offering a full-featured Toshiba laptop for $349; Wal-Mart has been selling a $298 Everex laptop in recent weeks.

While the XO laptop lacks some common laptop features, it is innovative in many ways and breaks design ground. Its rugged form factor can withstand poundings from rambunctious children, its solar panel and pull cord make it environmentally sound, its display can be comfortably viewed in bright sunlight, and its user-friendly interface makes it easy to operate.

Negroponte, the founding director of MIT's Media Lab, believes that once mass production of the XO gets under way, consumer prices will drop.

There are indications that the very existence of the project may have prompted some manufacturers to lower prices. Processor manufacturers AMD and Intel are partnering with the project. Microsoft has been a holdout, but the software company has offered an inexpensive version of its operating system in developing countries. The XO uses a Linux operating system.

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