$10 laptop not an XO equivalent but can prove equally good

The $10 laptop that was to be unveiled on 3 February doesn't match up to the XO laptop of One Laptop Per Child project. It is not even a laptop that one would like to use under normal circumstance because, unlike the XO candy, it's just a "computing device".

Indian newspaper The Times of India has reported that the $10 laptop can just be used as a storage device. Though the news article doesn't provide much detail, it does say that the device cannot be used to connect to the Internet and can display only contents that have been stored on it.

Even if the so-called $10 laptop (which at the time of demonstration cost $30 each) cannot connect to the Internet, this may still be useful if it is capable of basic computing -- word processing, creating spreadsheets, presentations and also reading various e-books and journals. Think of it as a version of Amazon's Kindle book reader.

Also, there have been experiments of transferring data physically to areas without Internet connectivity. A device installed on buses and trains had been used to transfer new information and news to its client devices in remote villages, which could then be accessed by users. It's like delivering an e-paper and files to its users in villages that had so far been away from the cyber world. The devices installed on buses used to synchronize with its client devices that were installed on various bus stops on the bus route. That way a bus departing from a state capital would act as a messenger/paper boy/courier to several village kiosks on its way to some other part of the state.

The innovators never said it was a computer. But this was an ingenious way of reaching out to villagers and providing them the latest information.

Even if the $10 laptop serves a similar purpose, this could be far more successful than the previous experiment. Schoolchildren would carry their laptops to school, where a server could act as a docking device that provides it with necessary updates, e-books, documents, assignments, latest news and information. This would make this thing equally good equipment.

Even when I know that the $10 laptop isn't a laptop, I am no less hopeful. If it can handle basic computing, allow users to read e-books and other stored contents, it will have the potential of making a huge change to the lives of million schoolchildren in India and developing world.

Update:

Shakshat, $10 laptop
Image/The Hindu

This is an image of the "$10 laptop" prototype available on The Hindu website. Can you find any screen? This means it cannot be used stand alone for basic computing or even reading e-books. So, its just a storage device. What's the capacity? Is 2GB RAM or its storage capacity? The Indian government made a serious mockery of itself. Now, will anyone explain the logic behind this box drive-cum-modem? After creating a ruckus in the world of technology and turning down hopes of the developing world, now some one really needs to explain what it is, the technology used and how it's going to help people.

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Author: Nyutech

Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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