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My XO is here! December 26, 2007

Posted by globalizer in global access, Social software, Unicode.


XO laptop closedXO keyboardXO in ebook mode

A couple of days before Christmas I received the two systems I ordered via the Give 1, Get 1 program, and I have spent the holidays exploring.

As you can see from the pictures above, with the 1-dollar bill for comparison, it is small, really small. The LCD screen is surprisingly good, though, and it will be interesting to try it out in the sun, to see if it actually is readable.

With no rotating media (storage is exclusively flash memory), it should be able to handle quite a bit of rough handling. The system is also pleasantly quiet and cool – no fan!

The hardware in general seems really sturdy (as it is supposed to be), and the sealed rubber-membrane keyboard would seem to offer good protection against dirt and dust. It is also the one part of the system where size does matter; it is very, very difficult to use for adults, and I would think that even many kids in the target audience might have difficulties – if we assume that children up to around 13 will be among the recipients.

The wireless networking support works great – all I had to do was power the system up. On the first boot, with absolutely no configuration needed, the system found the 8 wireless access points in my neighborhood, indicating via the icons whether they have encryption enabled. And once I entered the WEP key for my own access point, the system connected without a glitch. I haven’t tried the “wireless mesh” networking yet, but the concept is great, with kids being able to connect without a wireless router.

Similar experience with the USB connectors and SD card slot: any media I have thrown at it has been immediately recognized.

I have not spent a lot of time with the built-in camera and video recorder, but they do work, and produce usable images/video.

The only hardware-related complaint I have is the trackpad: I don’t like trackpads in general (I prefer the Thinkpad trackpoint), but the XO trackpad acts really erratically out of the box. Changing the sensitivity using this command

xset m 22/10

helps a good deal, however.

OK, that’s it for some quick impressions, mostly hardware-related. Definitely a thumbs up. Next up, some observations about the software.


I forgot one thing about the hardware/design: who on earth decided to make most of the outside surface off white (I think that’s what it is)? That has to one of the worst colors for something that will be exposed to a lot of dirt, humidity etc.? And won’t it turn yellowish really quickly, like most white plastic does when exposed to sunlight? I just can’t help wondering how many women were involved in the design 🙂


1. Musings on software globalization - December 30, 2007

Indulging in some Sugar over the holidays

No, not that kind – the kind of Sugar that comes with the OLPC laptop:

The Sugar user interface does take some getting used to, at least for anybody who has ever used a computer before.
Everything is centered around activities, and you need to get us…

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