The XO Laptop

The XO Laptop, also known as the OLPC, is a product that aims to make computing affordable to kids everywhere. It has extremely low power requirements. The transformer it ships with produces 12V at 1.4A or about 17 Watts. This should be well within the capabilities of a medium sized solar panel or even an inefficient pedal powered generator.

OLPC_XOCRW_8451Opening the XO

With a couple exceptions, everyone I asked to open the case had difficulty. The case lacks any good indicator aside from the antennas as to which side opens. Everyone looked at the battery compartment and most of them tried the latches. Most people assume the hinge is on the end away from the handle. I'll spoil it and say that to get it open you flip up the antennas and pry the thin crack that opens up on the near edge. There are no obvious indentations for fingers and the whole process feels awkward.

OLPC_XOCRW_8453The Case

The case is a lot more solid than it appears. While plastic, it is thick and textured. It should resist scratches, take a few drops, spills without breaking. The colors are distinctive and should appeal to children. My kids thought it looked cool. The guys at the office had other words for it.

The Screen

The LCD is protected by a thicker than average glare screen and is easy to read indoors, even with the backlight turned off. It appears to be full color but the colors are subdued and not as bright as I would expect. Resolution is low, but it rendered this blog without any problems.  It does appear to scale the pages a little.  Some graphics with text in them were somewhat hard to read.


I'm mildly unimpressed with the interface. The selection of software that ships with it is cool, but it is not intuitive what each of the icons do, or where files are stored. I did manage to log into flickr and upload a photo. The file selection dialog looked a lot like the "Journal" which shows recent actions (regardless of if they produced a file or not).

Processing Power

The beast is slow.  It takes quite a while to boot, and once booted finding a network takes longer than launching the slow browser.  And while we are talking browsers, it does support Flash animation, but don't expect to play Youtube.


I think it could be a good choice for a third world country, but it really lacks the features and power than kids in America will expect. My suggestion would be to pick up an Asus EEE PC or Everex sub $400 laptop if you want something that the kids can use for a few years.

3 thoughts on “The XO Laptop

  1. It’s a great concept though (OLPC – One Laptop Per Child). You can’t expect high performance for a relatively lost cost computer. I think for a child to just to have one – especially ones in lesser-developed nations – they’d be ecstatic. Slow, sure. I wouldn’t be surprised that they wouldn’t mind, and may have more patience than us in fast-paced, now-now, instant-gratification, type society. Plus, learning patience isn’t a half-bad trait. LOL. I read the how-to turn off the computer instruction. You have to hold the power button for 10 seconds! 😀

  2. I don’t expect high performance and I didn’t really want to come across negative though after I read it again, maybe I did. OLPC sacrificed a lot to keep the price and power requirements down so we shouldn’t expect much for performance.

    It is durable and it works. It takes a wide range of input voltage and would be well suited for solar or wind generators. While I think there are better choices for the money in the developed countries it is likely the only choice for many people and certainly a lot better than nothing.

  3. Pingback: Nice I Pad Review photos | iPad News Blog

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