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XO Laptop Review

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OLPC

It seems like a pretty rare occurrence lately, but every now and then, people think of someone other than themselves for a change. MIT professor and Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte is one of those people. In 2005, he along with several other Media Lab faculty members created One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a non-profit organization dedicated to developing affordable educational laptops for children in third-world nations. The result is the XO laptop, a low cost, durable computer with a lot of cool applications and features you can't find even on more expensive models.

The XO is about the size of a standard textbook and weighs a little over three pounds. It runs at 433 Mhz with 256 MB of RAM, 1 GB of flash storage and, not surprisingly, a free Linux-based operating system. It has three USB ports, microphone and headphone jacks, built-in microphone and 0.3-megapixel camera, and SD memory card slot. It's Wi-Fi compatible thanks to its powerful antennae which double as covers for the ports when they're folded. It's drop-proof, spill-proof, rain-proof, dust-proof and sand-proof-important features when considering some of the locations it'll be shipped to.

Critics have enthusiastically pointed out the foundation's failure to meet what were, in retrospect, some overly ambitious goals. Its $200 price tag exceeds the $100 it was purported to cost. The two-week span from November to December of last year when OLPC decided to make the XO available for sale for $400 under a "Give One, Get One" scheme left many customers irate when they were still laptop-less months after they were supposed to receive them.

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