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Digital guru floats sub-$100 PC

 
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tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44531
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 11:56 am    Post subject: Digital guru floats sub-$100 PC  Reply with quote    

Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and founder of MIT's Media Labs, says he is developing a laptop PC that will go on sale for less than $100 (53).

He told the BBC World Service programme Go Digital he hoped it would become an education tool in developing countries.

He said one laptop per child could be " very important to the development of not just that child but now the whole family, village and neighbourhood".

He said the child could use the laptop like a text book.

He described the device as a stripped down laptop, which would run a Linux-based operating system,

"We have to get the display down to below $20, to do this we need to rear project the image rather than using an ordinary flat panel.

'Skinny it down'

"The second trick is to get rid of the fat , if you can skinny it down you can gain speed and the ability to use smaller processors and slower memory."

The device will probably be exported as a kit of parts to be assembled locally to keep costs down.

Mr Negroponte said this was a not for profit venture, though he recognised that the manufacturers of the components would be making money.

In 1995 Mr Negroponte published the bestselling Being Digital, now widely seen as predicting the digital age.

The concept is based on experiments in the US state of Maine, where children were given laptop computers to take home and do their work on.

Broken laptops

While the idea was popular amongst the children, it initially received some resistance from the teachers and there were problems with laptops getting broken.

However, Mr Negroponte has adapted the idea to his own work in Cambodia where he set up two schools together with his wife and gave the children laptops.

"We put in 25 laptops three years ago , only one has been broken, the kids cherish these things, it's also a TV a telephone and a games machine, not just a textbook."

Mr Negroponte wants the laptops to become more common than mobile phones but conceded this was ambitious.

"Nokia make 200 million cell phones a year, so for us to claim we're going to make 200 million laptops is a big number, but we're not talking about doing it in three or five years, we're talking about months."

He plans to be distributing them by the end of 2006 and is already in discussion with the Chinese education ministry who are expected to make a large order.

"In China they spend $17 per child per year on textbooks. That's for five or six years, so if we can distribute and sell laptops in quantities of one million or more to ministries of education that's cheaper and the marketing overheads go away."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/technology/4243733.stm

Published: 2005/02/07 14:18:24 GMT

jema
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26815
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

A device like that would get overwhelming sales in the West let alone anywhere else.

In one sense it is long overdue. Remember the orginal home PCs, especially the spectrum. Allowing for inflation, and deflation in chip prices, the only real difficulty is the hard drive and display, and it does trike me that a micro rear projection system is viable.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44531
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Heard it all before, what happened to all the Java based net appliances?

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26815
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

tahir wrote:
Heard it all before, what happened to all the Java based net appliances?


Well that was very different. But a "spectrum" type cheap integrated PC, with Linux is very concievable.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44531
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

It'll be interesting to see what happens

moogie



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 525
Location: Near Bridgend
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Probably a little controversial, but I have to say I find this a bit disturbing. I may be being hypocritical sat here at my pc typing this, but is this what all kids want and need? Whilst some pc interaction and learning is surely beneficial, by making laptops that cheap and widely available, isn't it asking to turn all the world's kids into a generation of computerfied zombies?! In particular the idea of it being a tv and a games machine as well as a work tool and learning facility alarms me.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44531
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'd agree to an extent moogie, but unfortunately most kids are already glued to the telly and game console anyway so in that sense it's not much of a change.

jema
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 26815
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

moogie wrote:
Probably a little controversial, but I have to say I find this a bit disturbing. I may be being hypocritical sat here at my pc typing this, but is this what all kids want and need? Whilst some pc interaction and learning is surely beneficial, by making laptops that cheap and widely available, isn't it asking to turn all the world's kids into a generation of computerfied zombies?! In particular the idea of it being a tv and a games machine as well as a work tool and learning facility alarms me.


I remember being glued to games on digital watches, in the 70's kids now are constantly on mobiles.

We cannot stop the tech, but maybe it can be used constructivly.

When I think about it though as a solution to 3rd world schooling it does seem quite absurd.

moogie



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 525
Location: Near Bridgend
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Yes in the western world that may be true, but surely not in countries such a cambodia and china?! Not that I wish in any way to deprive those children of the delights of tv and computer games, but at least are relatively unspoilt by the side-effects of these two great technological developments - they still have imagination and more in their lives than staring at a screen all day. If every child has one, then the traditional games and skills learnt in childhood will be usurped by this as has happened here.

moogie



Joined: 02 Feb 2005
Posts: 525
Location: Near Bridgend
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

jema wrote:
We cannot stop the tech, but maybe it can be used constructivly.

When I think about it though as a solution to 3rd world schooling it does seem quite absurd.


Quite simply, the skills needed and learnt in the third world are so different to those required in the western world that to use technology as an all seeing all dancing solution to education and westernisation can only end in failure. It is more suitable to teach kids, say, agriculture or animal husbandry, maths, their own history etc than how to play Quake or watch Friends. Of course a pc can play a role in that, but not in the kind of way this pc guru guy is thinking. I would imagine that even word processing or connecting to the net is of limited use in small villages or rural areas. Only in the big cities would it have real relevance at the moment.

dougal



Joined: 15 Jan 2005
Posts: 7184
Location: South Kent
PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 05 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I note that Negroponte is said to be "developing" his concept...

However
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050203.html
other folk are actually producing (didn't say shipping!) an alternative concept which:
1/ doesn't seem to be quite pie-in-the-sky
2/ is aimed at a more realistic market, and likely more worthwhile use than games-playing
3/ but doesn't look as though its going to go on sale - just to be for use on contract

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