Negroponte Unveils 2nd Generation OLPC Laptop: It’s an E-Book

I’m “live blogging” from the One Laptop Per Child Foundation’s day-long media event at the MIT Media Lab. The big news is that OLPC founder Nicholas Negrponte has just unveiled the design for the foundation’s second-generation laptop, which isn’t really a laptop at all but a double-screened, fold-up electronic book.

Below are five shots of Negroponte’s presentation taken with my iPhone. [Update 4:15 pm 5/20/08: And below those are three high-resolution images that OLPC sent out to the media after the presentation.]

Negroponte says the cost of this 2nd-generation device, which uses dual-touch screens with 16:9 aspect ratios, will be kept to $75. (Compare that to the $188 cost of the foundation’s current first-generation XO laptop.) Costs will be kept down in part by using screens built for portable DVD players, which are rapidly coming down in price, Negroponte says. “The reason you can have the audacity to do this is that the 16:9 displays on DVD players are so inexpensive that to anticipate them costing $20 each is not out of the question,” he says.

The book-like design of the device “comes from something we’ve learned over the past couple of years—that the book experience is key,” Negroponte said during his presentation this morning. “Some people have asked me why not just give kids cell phones? And in fact there will be 1.2 billion cell phones manufactured this year, and cell phones are of huge consequence in the developing world—but the cell phone is not a learning device. The next generation laptop should be a book.”

Negroponte said the foundation plans to bring out the second-generation device by 2010. By that time, he added, the cost of the original XO Laptop will also have been brought below $100.

Click on the images below to see larger versions.

2nd Generation XO Laptop from One Laptop Per Child Foundation - Photo 1
2nd Generation XO Laptop from One Laptop Per Child Foundation - Photo 2
2nd Generation XO Laptop from One Laptop Per Child Foundation - Photo 3
2nd Generation XO Laptop from One Laptop Per Child Foundation - Photo 4
2nd Generation XO Laptop from One Laptop Per Child Foundation - Photo 5

UPDATE 4:15 pm 05/20/08

Okay, we’ve got the official high-res versions of three of the XO 2.0 images now. As before, click on the thumbnails below for larger versions.

XO 2.0 Laptop Concept, showing touch-screen keyboard
XO 2.0 Laptop Concept, e-book mode
XO 2.0 Laptop Concept, pong mode

Addendum 4:30 pm 5/20/08

I’m back at the office, and wanted to add a few more details.

In a press release issued shortly after Negroponte’s presentation, OLPC said that key goals for the so-called XO-2 computer include the aforementioned $75 price tag; power consumption of 1 watt, reducing the amount of time required for children in unelectrified areas to generate power manually; a smaller footprint (the XO-2 is about half the size of the XO) so that the device is easier to carry to and from school; and an “enhanced book experience” that resembles the right and left pages of a book in vertical format, a laptop in hinged horizontal format, and a flat continuous tablet in flat two-screen format.

The dual touchscreen display is being designed by Pixel Qi, the hardware design firm founded by former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen.

OLPC also said that a new version of the original XO laptop, called XO-1.5, will be released in the spring of 2009 “with the same design as the first generation but with fewer physical parts and at a lower cost than XO-1.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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