Las Vegas (NV) - The One Laptop Per Child project is inching towards final production: Prototypes are currently on display at the Consumer Electronics Show and we have used the opportunity to play around with the devices shown by Marvell, which provides the wireless chips for the device. Get a close-up look at the $100 laptop in our slideshow.
While the laptop's screen won't compete with the vibrant panels on many consumer laptops, it was more readable than we expected. Webpages were easily viewed and we even were able to play around with a rudimentary paint program.
Two green antennas swivel up and allow the laptop to communicate with other OLPC laptops and wireless access points. The OLPC is basically a router with a screen, as its main purpose is to act as a mesh node, constantly talking to other wireless devices. Marvell officials told us that the wireless routing works even when the laptop is turned off.
Wireless range should be around 200 to 300 feet indoors, under ideal circumstances. Outdoor range will be much better, with Marvell representatives predicting up to 2000 feet of wireless connectivity.
Meanwhile reports are surfacing, that the OLPC could become available not only to governments who are buying thousands of units at once, but also to the public in a more or less traditional retail sales fashion. According to BBC News, several ideas for making this possible are currently floating around. One model suggests that consumers would have to buy two OLPCs, with one of the two computers being shipped to the developing world.
The OLPC project aims to deliver about five million $100 laptops to the developing world in summer of 2007.