I had my first real-life encounter with the OLPC XO at the CommandN 100th episode party last Thursday. Mike Fletcher, whom I consider to be Toronto’s Python go-to guy, is contributing to the OLPC effort and brought the his to the party.
Its look is reminiscent of my beloved first Apple laptop, the original “clamshell” iBook, or perhaps of Fisher-Price toys designed in the age of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Its appearance seems to announce that it’s both durable and fun:
It’s designed for kids from the get-go. The integral handle is best suited to a child’s hands, and beside the handle are a couple of holes so that kids can loop a shoulder strap, belt, sash or rope for over-the-shoulder carrying. The keyboard is the sealed, rubberized type, which should make it spill- and dust-resistant.
The keys are clearly designed for kids’ hands. I wonder if Mike plugs in a USB keyboard to code on it:
I saw some of the applications in its built-in suite, including the browser, word processor, drawing app and a music making app. I’m told that there’s a programming environment for kids to make their own application, although I didn’t get a look at that.
The screen can also be rotated 180 degrees and then pressed shut so that the OLPC becomes a handy ebook reader. It’s a helluva lot nicer (and cheaper) than many other ebook readers I’ve seen:
Over at Ed Felten’s Freedom to Tinker blog, there’s a review of the XO written by a very articulate 12-year old named “SG”. Although SG isn’t quite in the OLPC’s target demographic, s/he’s in the right age group.