OLPC tablet hits stores for $150
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 17 Jul 2013 at 10:40
One Laptop Per Child has released its first consumer device, the XO Tablet - selling exclusively through Wal-Mart stores in the US for $150 (£99).
OLPC started in 2005, with the goal of creating a $100 PC and getting them into the hands of children who otherwise wouldn't have access to such technology.
That goal was quickly overtaken by netbooks, which offered more computing capability for a better price than OLPC had yet managed. While countries such as Uruguay and Peru have signed up to use the devices in schools, OLPC now has another target: Wal-Mart shoppers.
Pitched as a "family-friendly" device, the XO Tablet runs Android 4.2, not OLPC's in-house OS, Sugar. However, it does have a specially designed "Dream" UI that groups content based on what children want to be when they grow up.
Manufactured by Vivitar, the XO tablet features a 7in, 1,024 x 600 display, 8GB of storage, runs a 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, and promises eight hours of battery life.
Such specs aren't going to top rival tablets already on the market for a similar price, such as the Nook HD for £99, but the XO tablet is designed specifically for children and education. It features a colourful, rugged body and carrying loop, and comes preloaded with 100 educational apps, games and ebooks.
It can also download apps from the Google Play store, but access to the app store and the internet can be limited via built-in parental controls, while parents are also given a dashboard to track their children's learning progress and what they get up to on the tablet.
The device works in both English and Spanish, while French and Italian versions will be released in Europe later this year.
The commercial device is a different direction for OLPC. It previously offered its XO laptops for sale online, but only as part of a buy-one-give-one scheme, which saw a laptop donated to a child in the developing world for each purchase. Otherwise, its laptops and tablets tend to be bought by governments and educational organisations to roll out in schools.
Earlier this month, the organisation was forced to defend its work following a series of job cuts. "With the continued development of new products and content, OLPC maintains its commitment to providing children with an innovative educational experience," it said. "OLPC is at its core a social equality movement and a transformer of the existing educational systems."
Alongside the XO Tablet, OLPC earlier this year released the XO-4 Touch laptop, which is designed for educational use in emerging markets.
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