Second-gen XO: Even tinier, with ‘foldable e-book form factor’—plus a new chance to buy-and-give XO-1

image "The next generation laptop should be a book,” Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop Per Child, is quoted in Laptop Magazine’s blog, which notes that the second-gen machine will offer a hinges and a "foldable e-book form factor." Check out the accompanying video.

Excerpt from LM: "The system will employ the dual indoor-and-sunlight displays, which was pioneered by former OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen. The design will provide a right and left page in vertical format, a hinged laptop in horizontal format, and a flat, two-screen continuous surface for use in tablet mode. ‘Younger children will be able to use simple keyboards to get imagegoing, and older children will be able to switch between keyboards customized for applications as well as for multiple languages,’ the press release reads. The device will also reduce power consumption to 1 watt."

Commercial competition with similar form factor?

The inevitable questions? Will Asus and others try to beat OLPC to the punch with models with the same form factor? And will it be possible for them to use the OLPC screen technology?

I’d also love to know if OLPC will pay more attention to e-book software than it has so far. And how about something that can read the ePub format?

Other news: G1G1 starts again—and OLPC News editor steps down

image In other news, OLPC says the Give One Get One program will start up in August or September.

Also—in a very separate development—Wayan Volta is stepping down as editor of the independent OLPC News while staying on as publisher. Replacing him will be  Bryan Berry of OLE Nepal and Christoph Derndorfer of OLPC Austria. Good luck to all.

15 Comments on Second-gen XO: Even tinier, with ‘foldable e-book form factor’—plus a new chance to buy-and-give XO-1

  1. Well, this will be nice if all the other technical issues get worked out. This is my first Teleread post from my G1G1 OLPC, by the way. Now that Sugar has been forked, perhaps Negroponte can work on delegating more things like distribution and tech support to competent volunteers. I know I would spend a year in Peru for food and a plane ticket if someone could train me to maintain these boxen well enough.

    How about you guys? Up for the challenge?

  2. Believe it or not, someone already did this idea:
    http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/petitinvention-your-source-for-next-gen-macs/

    Still, I guess you must be excited, David. This is certainly better than dual e-Ink screens!

  3. Congrats on your G1G1, LuYu! Meanwhile let’s hope OLPC listens to your suggestions. Thanks. David

  4. This is very exciting news.

    I hope they can deliver as promised, and/or other companies beat them to the punch on the size, screen and ball park price. (Okay, $75 per unit may be WAY, WAY, WAY optimistic but Eee PC prices? That would be nice.)

  5. Blaine Higgy // May 20, 2008 at 5:41 pm //

    Well believe it or not Mike, since the Dynabook concept in 1968 there have been many conceptual hardware iterations similar to this.

    The petitinvention riff ain’t nothing new. Anybody can fold a black piece of foamboard in half and paste some graphics on it. I guess, however, that when you slap an Apple logo on it it becomes something new and special. :)

    Let’s hope that the second gen XO moves closer to realizing Alan Kay’s vision of the Dynabook (of which the hardware is just one piece).

  6. David, This is the machine (XO-2) on which to display my ReadAllOver pages (“ReadAllOver and the ‘look and feel’ debate,” Teleread, May 3, 2008). At the very least, it provides a new context for that argument.

  7. Hi, Robert. Appreciated your very relevant thoughts re the twin display. I’m still of the opinion we need the reflowable approach and files suitable for many machines, but you’re entitled. Thanks. David

  8. Garson O'Toole // May 21, 2008 at 12:30 am //

    Thanks for Mike Cane for the link to the petitinvention website. Also extending kudos to Alan Kay for his Dynabook vision does make sense as Blaine Higgy notes. An earlier TeleRead post shows two facing screens in a mockup by Robert Maxwell Case.

    However, the new OLPC design is clearly a case of skullduggery and devious corporate espionage. The OLPC team has outrageously stolen the plans of the next generation dual-screen Gameboy from Nintendo! (Warning: Jokes are always misunderstood by some readers on the net. This is an attempted joke not a legal opinion.) Actually here is Gizmodo’s concept of a future Nintendo DS from December 2007.

  9. I remember when Gizmodo ran that shot, it was nice.

    However, I still like the new OLPC prototype version better.

    I sure hope someone else picks up and runs with this idea long before 2010.

  10. Garson O'Toole // May 21, 2008 at 12:50 am //

    The “keyboard” screen might be an obstacle to acceptance for some. What kind of feedback will it provide to the typist? Visual feedback? Auditory feedback? Some kind of tactile overlay? Will it be enough?

    Aaron J. Walker said “I still like the new OLPC prototype version better.” I also think the OLPC prototype is more elegant and attractive.

  11. I do like the screen-keyboard idea. The XO has been criticized for not offering keys in many languages, but doing so would increase the complexity of manufacture. The screen-keyboard makes the keyboard as adaptable as the software. Just install a native-language build.

    One of the advantages of open-source, of course, is the ease with which local groups can create native-language builds. Using MS-WindowsXP won’t allow that.

    We must balance the use of the screen, not so good to type on, with this ease of localization.

    But, does it strike anybody else that this is a ‘Cry for Help!’ from Mr Negroponte? Desperate to undo the critical damage to the project, he touts impossible goals which he admits are just wishes, with no engineering to support.

    Hey, Mr Negroponte, why don’t you announce your new project next week: Jetpacks for Every Child! (Cost of Jetpack: 5 rupees!!!)

    I had such high hopes for this project, once upon a time, before I learned who and what Mr Negroponte is. Now I know better.

    Let me see the hands-on, in-depth reviews of the shipping products. Until then, OLPC: RIP.

  12. I think this project could have been so much better if they had not been so stingy with offering a commercial version. Why limit the window on Give One Get One? Why not have it in retail stores in North America, at a higher price, the difference going to fund donations for children in developing countries? I think the EEE pc has shown that there is a huge demand for low cost ultra-light laptops in all countries. But now, OLPC has missed the boat. The sole reason I got an EEE pc instead was availability. I truly never understood why OLPC was so reluctant to get their product out there.

  13. Ficbot asks:

    I think this project could have been so much better if they had not been so stingy with offering a commercial version. Why limit the window on Give One Get One? Why not have it in retail stores in North America, at a higher price, the difference going to fund donations for children in developing countries?

    One simple reason: OLPC’s infrastructure is a disaster. By all accounts they have serious production and distribution problems. For example, they haven’t yet shipped all of the machines purchased through the Give One Get One program. According to several members of the project team who have jumped ship, OLPC even lacks the resources to do a decent job of rolling out their product in the countries participating in the project.

    Commercial sales would require a distribution channel (including the ability to handle returns), product support (to distributors, retailers, and end users for both hardware and software), order processing (the auto-responder they use now certainly wouldn’t cut it), etc. If they can’t manage their stated objectives, can you imagine what a nightmare commercial distribution would be? Let’s face it: OLPC is a bunch of highly-skilled and well-intentioned amateurs and academics who have bitten off more than they can chew.

    Mary Lou Jepsen, the former CTO of the project and the inventor of the XO’s innovative display technology (and one of the first of many team members to defect), has formed her own company to commercialize this technology. I expect traditional manufacturers will license this technology and bring products to market long before the XO2 ships. Whaddaya suppose the odds are that Ms. Jepsen’s company is already in negotiations with ASUS?

    [ Footnote: see “radian.org/notebook/sic-transit-gloria-laptopi” for former team member Ivan Krstić’s comments on the state of disarray at OLPC. ]

  14. “Whaddaya suppose the odds are that Ms. Jepsen’s company is already in negotiations with ASUS?”

    I won’t take those odds, I know a sucker bet when I see one 😉

    She’d be a fool not to, and is on her way to being a very rich lady.

    Asus is already many steps ahead of OLPC in just about every way, including getting a very popular low cost PC to market cruising to the second generation that looks to be a hit as well.

    I’d be willing to wager she’s been contacted by more than just Asus.

    Any takers?

  15. Blaine Higgy // May 21, 2008 at 9:12 pm //

    I certainly hope the OLPC project is able to regroup and survive. The hardware design is brilliant and some of the features still need the software to catch up.

    The Asus Eee PC’s (and the others of this genre) are neat but they still cost twice as much as an XO and the hardware really does not advance anything new – it is just the status quo but smaller and cheaper than a normal sized laptop.

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