Negroponte discusses $100 laptop plans

— 7:30 PM on April 4, 2006

Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit association, has shed some light on the latest plans for the $100 laptop. While Linux will be used on the machine, Negroponte complained that developers weren't thinking about small, fast, and thin systems. "Suddenly it's like a very fat person (who) uses most of the energy to move the fat," he said. "Linux has gotten fat too." A special version of Windows CE is also planned, despite Bill Gates' earlier attempt to discredit the laptop. Gates scoffed at its small screen, hand crank, and lack of a hard drive. Negroponte was unimpressed, saying the association was in constant talks with Microsoft, and that development boards would even be sent to the company. "So jeez—why criticize me in public," he added. The fabled hand crank is being ditched, however, as the twisting force would be bad for the machine in a real-world setting. Instead, the replacement backup power source may be a pedal attached to the AC power adapter.

Despite the changes, the association still expects to sell the system for $135 in 2007, with the price going down to $100 in 2008, and $50 in 2010. The specifications aren't changing, either: the machine will still feature a 500MHz AMD processor, 128MB of RAM, 512MB of flash memory, as well as a display capable of a resolution of 1180x830 in black and white and 640x480 in color. The laptop will also consume only 2W of power when running, with 1W going to the display. Regarding Internet connectivity, Negroponte says that between WiFi, WiMax, and 3G, the network is likely to develop on its own. Nonetheless, the eventual vision is a mesh network with data cached locally on $100 servers in schools.

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