Amazon Unveils Give One, Get One Laptop Store

Michele Masterson
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Aimed at helping educate children in the poorest developing countries, OLPC's G1G1 (Give One Get One) promotion asks customers to buy either an XO laptop for $199, or buy one laptop to keep and one to give away for $399.

This year's effort hopes to best last year's campaign that ran from November 12 through December 31, 2007 in the U.S. and Canada, and raised $35 million. More than 100,000 XO laptops were distributed to children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Mongolia and Rwanda, OLPC said.

The new XO model is a 7.5-inch, convertible, rugged notebook with a 433 MHz processor, 256 MB DRAM, 1 GB flash memory, 802.11b/g/s, SD slot, and a built-in Web cam and microphone, and weighs in at 3.2 pounds. The operating system is the same as last year's GNU/Linux-based OS, called Sugar.

The OLPC said that most laptop components that are most likely to fail are the hard drive and internal connectors. Taking that into consideration, the XO has no hard drive to crash and only two internal cables.

Adding more robustness, the machine's plastic walls are 2mm thick, as opposed to the standard 1.3mm. Its mesh network antennas double as external covers for the USB ports, which are protected internally as well. The mesh network also allows laptops to communicate with each other with or without a network infrastructure.

The laptop comes with pre-installed software activities, including: music editing; drawing; writing; recoding (includes audio, images and video); basic computer programming; a simple Web browser and distance and sound wave measurement.

Two display modes are available: a transmissive, full-color mode, and a reflective, high-resolution black and white mode that is sunlight readable. Both consume very little power: the transmissive mode consumes one watt -- about one seventh of the average LCD power consumption in a laptop; the reflective mode consumes a just 0.2 watts.

In addition, the laptop selectively suspends operation of its CPU, providing more power savings. The laptop nominally consumes less than two watts -- less than one tenth of what a standard laptop consumes -- so little that XO can be recharged by human power. The OLPC calls this a critical feature for the half-billion children who have no access to electricity.

The XO is also fully compliant with the European Union's RoHS Directive. It contains no hazardous materials. Its LiFePO4 or NiMH batteries contain no toxic heavy metals, plus it features enhanced battery management for an extended recharge-cycle lifetime. It will also tolerate alternate power-charging sources, such as car batteries.

There is no limit to the number of XOs that can be donated. If Amazon customers give 100 or more laptops, they can designate where they would like them to go. The program runs until Dec. 26.

Why give a laptop to a child who has no running water?" the OLPC asked in a statement. "If you replace the word "laptop" with "education" the answer becomes clear. You don't wait to educate until all other challenges are resolved. You educate at the same time because it's such an important part of all other solutions."

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