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By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-04-04 Print this article Print

Choosing the display and stripping away sales and marketing took work, but a major part of the effort has gone into design. Powering the machine, for one thing, was a major concern as well. "Were going to be below 2 watts [of total power consumption]. Thats very important because 35 percent of world doesnt have electricity," Negroponte said. "Power is such a big deal that youre going to hear every company boasting about power" in the near future. "That is the currency of tomorrow."
Thus OLPC chose low-power components, including display and processor, and made the machine capable of being self-powered.
The company dropped the hand crank mechanism that was present in some of its prototypes, including a bright-green machine it showed on Nov. 28, 2005, at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society. The crank could stress the notebooks chassis, Negroponte said. So OLPC added it to the power supply, instead. The power supply could use a crank or a mechanism such as a foot pedal, he said. The dual-mode screen will be able to be read easily in bright sunlight and work indoors just as easily, he said, offering a 1,110-by-830-pixel resolution in black and white in outdoor mode and 640 by 480 pixels in color indoors. Meanwhile, using a relatively lightweight version of Linux—Negroponte did not specify what type, but the project is being supported by Red Hat Software—will allow for instant-on. "We are also talking to Microsoft. Theyre going to make a Windows CE version" for the machine, Negroponte said. "Were going to help them make a Win CE version, so geez, why criticize me?" While AMD will supply the processor, Marvell will likely provide wireless chips to the laptops. Quanta Computer, one of the worlds top computer manufacturers, will build the machine. Click here to read more about Quantas role with the $100 laptop. Negroponte showed pictures of two concept machines, both of which are so-called convertibles. Thus, the machines can open like clamshells, but their screens can rotate 180 degrees and fold down to create a writing surfaces. A yellow-colored one, dubbed "Seed A," includes a handle for carrying it. A more traditional-looking concept, which is blue, is simply called "book." The first $100 laptops will look different, however, Negroponte said, adding no other details. They will roll out in seven countries—Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt and the Middle East, India, Nigeria, and Thailand—in addition to Massachusetts, Negroponte joked, where its received an endorsement from Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The $100 laptops initial price will actually start at $135 in 2007. The price will move downward over time, however, reaching $100 in 2008, and it will hit $50 by 2010, Negroponte said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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