I was very excited today to finally receive my XO laptop which I ordered through the Give 1 Get 1 program by the One Laptop Per Child project. For $400, not only did get a laptop, but I was able to donate one to a needy child somewhere. And on top of that, I get a free year of T-mobile hotspot usage. A killer deal.
But you probably know all of that already, what you want are the juicy details on what I actually found when I opened the box, so after the jump is my quick review of the XO.
Since the whole concept here is that I gave an identical laptop to a child somewhere in the world, I decided to approach this from that child's viewpoint as best I could. I resolved not to do any outside research, but operate simply with what I got in the box. I was a little daunted when I opened the box and found a 2 page glossy as the only documentation. There was a reassuring note from Nicholas Negroponte telling me I could find all the documentation online, but given my self-imposed rules, that meant I was on my own to get connected to the internet.
Fortunately, the setup was a cakewalk. Getting the thing open took me a few seconds, but fortunately that step was carefully detailed with pictures in the glossy manual. Once it was turned on, I had to enter my name and pick a color scheme, and I was done.
I then proceeded to push lots of buttons, and discovered there is on that rotates the screen so you can fold it into a tablet mode. In this mode, it looks a lot like the Amazon Kindle, and seems like it could make a good ebook reader. I then went through the various applications. It looks like there is some really neat stuff in there. Some of the highlights are a music editing program called Tam Tam Jam that I didn't have time to figure out, but looks very cool, eToys - which is full of fun games, Pippy - which seems like a version of a BASIC programming environment, an RSS reader, and an "Acoustic Tape Measure", which apparently lets two XOs determine how far apart they are (why did I only get one?!?!). I think by far the thing that excited me the most was Pippy. To me it is really amazing to think that some child out there could be learning to program, with all the opportunities that provides, thanks to the OLPC project and my $400.
My initial reaction is that this is a very neat toy, but for practical purposes for me, that's mostly what it is. I'll continue to explore, but typing in the browser is slow compared to my normal laptop, and while the word processing app is faster, I can't send my boss things that aren't word docs. Also, the thing is tiny! The keys are clearly designed for a child's fingers, which is a very brilliant move given the target audience, but it means my typing is slowed down considerably. Lest my review sound negative, let me say that the simplicity out of the box and ease of use is amazing! Commercial products could learn a lot from the XO. A review of my twitter history shows it was about 30 minutes from opening the box to being online, and a lot of that was spent taking pictures!
I plan to work through the details of these programs over the next several days, so I'll be sure to give a more detailed review I've had more time with it!