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What $10 PC? India Goes OLPC

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 22 comments

India has ditched its $10 PC in favor of the OLPC Foundation's 'hundred dollar' laptop.

Shortly after CES 2009, news did the rounds about India’s supposed $10 dollar laptop. The laptop reportedly cost $20 to manufacture, but according to India’s Secretary for Higher Education, large-scale production would see the price in half by the time it hit consumers.

Within a couple of days, India showed off this much talked about machine and people were disappointed to see that it wasn’t exactly a laptop. The Sakshat was a 10-inch by 5-inch plastic box which, despite its fancy unveiling at India's Sri Venkateswara University, looked more like a storage device than anything else. As for the $10 price, the expected price is closer to thirty bucks.

We gave up on the idea, right then and there, and apparently, so did India. Reports today say the country has just purchased thousands of OLPC laptops for its schools. According to Giz, the Indian government has signed an agreement with the One Laptop Per Child Foundation that will see 250,000 XO laptops distributed to students throughout the country.

The original plan was to develop a hundred dollar laptop, however the price as it stands is just under twice that. OLPC said it hoped to have the price down to $100 in 2008 but that, realistically; it would probably be more like $140. It’s not clear whether or not India will be using the XP version of the XO machine that comes bundled with Windows XP and Microsoft’s Student Innovation Suite, which includes Microsoft Office 2003 as well as Learning Essentials 1.0 for Microsoft Office. The addition of Windows XP to the XO laptop adds an extra $3 dollars to the price or $7 for a dual-boot version running both Windows and Linux.

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  • 4 Hide
    jsloan , April 28, 2009 3:41 PM
    they should have gotten netbooks, surely someone could have built them a linux one for around $150.
  • 0 Hide
    pug_s , April 28, 2009 4:21 PM
    $10 pc is probably the recycled 4-5 year old with Pentium IV processors.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2009 4:23 PM
    India is not poor as perceived by other countries, they have the best in R&D and very low priced products which are more competitive than the ones made in countries like China and Taiwan. I don't understand why India needs an OLPC or Net-book, they already have so many old PCs which can be donated for poor needy children. But as far as I know, those cannot afford a PC cannot afford Electricity line in India, so what the point?
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , April 28, 2009 4:45 PM
    Dr Raj GuptaIndia is not poor as perceived by other countries, they have the best in R&D and very low priced products which are more competitive than the ones made in countries like China and Taiwan. I don't understand why India needs an OLPC or Net-book, they already have so many old PCs which can be donated for poor needy children. But as far as I know, those cannot afford a PC cannot afford Electricity line in India, so what the point?

    I believe the OLPC has a hand-crank generator. A few minutes of cranking allows the device to be used for half an hour if I recall.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 28, 2009 5:18 PM
    Why is this news not on OLPC's website ?
    Why has there been no comment by Indian politician or any decision making authority out there ?
    When was the last time that India as a country promised a vendor for thousands of devices - the decisions are usually taken at state level by very smart execs who are proud of their work.
    Is it just fluff we are talking about ? What are the details of this deal ? Who was involved ? What criteria was chosen ? Where are the tender details ? Questions...
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , April 28, 2009 5:23 PM
    Dr Raj GuptaIndia is not poor as perceived by other countries, they have the best in R&D and very low priced products which are more competitive than the ones made in countries like China and Taiwan. I don't understand why India needs an OLPC or Net-book, they already have so many old PCs which can be donated for poor needy children. But as far as I know, those cannot afford a PC cannot afford Electricity line in India, so what the point?

    Yes, that's why India is known as the factory of the world and perceived as possible cyberspace competitor to the PUS alongside Russia.

    Gladly accept the US designed, Taiwan contracted and China made OLPC and educate your children.
  • 2 Hide
    thub , April 28, 2009 5:24 PM
    hellwigI believe the OLPC has a hand-crank generator. A few minutes of cranking allows the device to be used for half an hour if I recall.

    The hand crank was scrapped as a standard feature due to (I believe) the fragile nature of handcranks manufactured in plastic. The laptops come with a regular, region-specific, wall adapter but the last I heard from people at OLPC, a third party was developing a human powered charger that looks like a yo-yo and cost around $10 that was being considered as the standard charging device. It turns out that an energetic kid can generate a lot of power with a device like that.
    In any actual deployments I've read about, they've used the wall adapters and set up some kind of system for gang-charging.

    Also, why is it so hard to convince the media that OLPC laptops don't have a Windows version? They come from the factory with a Fedora-based Linux installation, but the client is free to put whatever they want on it, including Microsoft's XO bundle which is offered seperately.
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , April 28, 2009 5:25 PM
    ^ sorry, I meant to type US.
  • 2 Hide
    zerapio , April 28, 2009 5:34 PM
    Dr Raj GuptaIndia is not poor as perceived by other countries, they have the best in R&D and very low priced products which are more competitive than the ones made in countries like China and Taiwan. I don't understand why India needs an OLPC or Net-book, they already have so many old PCs which can be donated for poor needy children. But as far as I know, those cannot afford a PC cannot afford Electricity line in India, so what the point?

    It's not that India is a poor country but you certainly can't deny that there's a lot of poverty. Wealth distribution is really bad.
  • -2 Hide
    outacontrolpimp , April 28, 2009 9:50 PM
    average users dont want linux, stop suggesting it.
    of course people that know how to use computers say linux is great. but for normal users, they want nothing to do with it. unless it gets some popularity, (commercials ect) people wont like the idea of a ox they havent heard about.
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , April 29, 2009 1:11 AM
    outacontrolpimpaverage users dont want linux, stop suggesting it. of course people that know how to use computers say linux is great. but for normal users, they want nothing to do with it. unless it gets some popularity, (commercials ect) people wont like the idea of a ox they havent heard about.

    Guess what some (if not most) those kids will be doing in 10-15 years? Yup. DBA or network admin or code grunt. And guess what? Linux is used for most of these type of work. Linux is a great place to start learning coding,etc.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2009 1:47 AM
    WinXP needs about 256MB more ram than Linux, and needs a swap file of at least that. So xp will need to bump the SSD and ram a bit.
  • 2 Hide
    tbq , April 29, 2009 6:48 AM
    outacontrolpimpaverage users dont want linux, stop suggesting it. of course people that know how to use computers say linux is great. but for normal users, they want nothing to do with it. unless it gets some popularity, (commercials ect) people wont like the idea of a ox they havent heard about.

    If the user has no previous experience with a computer, I don't think they care too much what OS they have. They'd probably go for whichever is cheaper.
  • 2 Hide
    emjayy , April 29, 2009 12:07 PM
    I know some here have an aversion to Linux, but the reality is that, on these PCs, it makes far more sense to use it than XP for a host of reasons. One of the biggest benefits is that the laptops can be maintained without the need for anti-virus or anti-spyware software. The last thing India would need is having millions of OLPCs eventually becoming infested with spyware and viruses. The other issue to consider is the fact that XP's registry degrades over time, causing the machine to slow down and reducing the operating stability of installed programs. Linux, on the other hand, maintains performance over time.
  • 1 Hide
    ceteras , April 29, 2009 1:53 PM
    outacontrolpimpaverage users dont want linux, stop suggesting it. of course people that know how to use computers say linux is great. but for normal users, they want nothing to do with it. unless it gets some popularity, (commercials ect) people wont like the idea of a ox they havent heard about.


    I will never stop suggesting people to use Ubuntu linux. I don't care if the avearege user knows what that means or not, and I'm not a computer guru. But for the average user, Ubuntu really is great.
    And if we rule games out, as we are talking about education and not entertainment, linux is the best choice.

    To me, it even sounds pathetic for Micro$oft to sell XP to the kids in 3'rd world countries.
  • 1 Hide
    antemon , April 29, 2009 4:21 PM
    Here's a question. Why does 90% of the the Indian Nationals I see that post all over the net always include their title?
    Dr. something
    Engr. whatchamcallit
    etc etc etc...

    on topic, isn't the OLPC solar powered? or would that be OLPC2?
  • 0 Hide
    thub , April 29, 2009 5:45 PM
    antemonIsn't the OLPC solar powered? or would that be OLPC2?

    I think solar panels on each laptop was ruled out right away, probably because it would be the first thing to break on an otherwise very rugged design as well as being a significant additional manufacturing cost. However, solar power charging stations may make more sense and may be useful for other purposes. I think one of the earlier deployments were considering this approach, but I don't know if it worked out.
  • 1 Hide
    twburger , April 29, 2009 6:06 PM
    When I first heard about the $10 laptop my first conclusion was that this was some type of government boondoggle - a method of wasting taxpayers money while attempting to look important and spreading largess. Any intelligent and educated person knew a complete computer for $10 was and still is impossible. Someone should go to prison or at least get fired.

    The best price yet is (or will be) a $100 laptop from China available possibly as soon as this year or early 2010. HiVision is using a cheaper MIPS based processor (Longsoon or Ingenic), WiFi, 1GB flash storage, Linux OS, 3 USB ports, and Ethernet.

    India has made a good choice with the OLPC but I am disappointed that Microsoft's influence has caused the XP OS to be used. It's slower, buggier, more susceptible to viruses, and costs more than the Linux option that was specifically customized for the OLPC and allowed unlimited development of new software for free.

    Microsoft and the Indian government should be ashamed. The extra costs mean less for the Indian people and more for Microsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    thub , April 29, 2009 6:24 PM
    twburgerIndia has made a good choice with the OLPC but I am disappointed that Microsoft's influence has caused the XP OS to be used.
    ...
    Microsoft and the Indian government should be ashamed. The extra costs mean less for the Indian people and more for Microsoft.

    I can't find any indication that this new deployment will be using Windows XP on the XO laptops. I don't think India even qualifies for Microsoft's $3 software bundle and considering their $10 PC project, I would highly doubt they would go through the extra work and cost of deploying with Windows XP. I mean, they clearly weren't planning on putting Windows on the $10 PCs!
  • 0 Hide
    twburger , April 29, 2009 6:40 PM
    You are right, there is no indication here that XP will be used, just that it might be. I'm basing my concern on this: http://www.olpcnews.com/software/operating_system/who_actually_needs_windows_xo.html

    It looks like the guy in charge is pushing XP.
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