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Laptops for Kids, Not for Biz

Would you be interested in a rugged laptop that comes with a camera, built-in wireless, flash memory, an open source operating system from Red Hat, a web browser, a word processor, and more, all for about $200?
Would you be interested in a rugged laptop that comes with a camera, built-in wireless, flash memory, an open source operating system from Red Hat, a web browser, a word processor, and more, all for about $200?Nicolas Negroponte, head of MIT's One laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative announced today that the XO, or so-called $100 laptop, (it's closer to $188, but let's not quibble) will be available to buyers in the U.S. and Canada for a two-week period, from November 12 to November 26.

Under the program, called "Give 1 Get 1," buyers can purchase two laptops for $399. One would be shipped to a child in a developing nation, and the other to the buyer.

Here's the showstopper for small and midsize businesses: The machines may be terrific for kids in the third world, but they are not ideal for business use. The 433Mhz energy-efficient AMD processor is slow. It doesn't have an Ethernet port. The keyboard is designed for child-sized hands, not adult meat hooks. Neat as they are, these babies just won't cut it in the office, or on the road.

But if you've got a few extra bucks in your IT budget next quarter, why not buy an XO (or a few) and have them shipped to kids who need them?