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£50 laptop shipment date slips

OLPC notebooks delayed until Q3

The £50 XO notebook PC being manufactured for the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project will be delayed until the third quarter of 2007, the manufacturer said today.

Quanta Computer, the world's largest contract laptop PC manufacturer, had previously said shipments could start as early as July. Software adjustments by the OLPC group have pushed the schedule back to the third quarter.

"The hardware is pretty much in place," a company representative said.

The company has already said it has confirmed orders for 1 million of the laptops. Several nations have already signed up for the project, including Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uruguay.

The OLPC project is aimed at ensuring children around the world don't miss out on learning how to use computers. The group has worked on building a laptop PC, the XO, that costs just £50, including hardware and software. It comes with a battery recharger and wireless network interface. In many countries where OLPC hopes to distribute the XO, electricity and internet access are bigger problems than the lack of PCs.

More - Building the £50 laptop

The laptop is built to last under rough conditions. It's resistant to water, and there are as few moving parts as possible. Instead of a hard disc drive, for example, which has moving parts, the XO uses flash memory. It's also designed with a tougher outer shell than most laptop PCs, and drop tests have been performed to ensure the device can survive a few falls. A full list of the hardware specifications shows it also has a Secure Digital memory card slot, three USB ports, and an onboard camera.

There are critics of the program. Fair International, a Norwegian nonprofit organisation also working to provide PCs to schools in developing countries, complains that the OLPC model of ensuring every schoolchild receives their own laptop is simply too costly. In addition, some companies argue that the PC should be equipped with the most widely used software, because that way, kids in developing countries would learn a job-related skill through the machines. Instead, the XO is equipped with a newly developed user interface running on a stripped-down version of Red Hat Inc's Fedora Core Linux OS.

Still, the OLPC project has found a large number of supporters from different walks of life. Many top members of the group are from academia and work at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The project is led by Nicholas Negroponte, a co-founder of MIT's Media Laboratory. And from industry, Advanced Micro Devices, Red Hat and Google are just a few of the companies that have joined the initiative.


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