Amazon to sell OLPC's XO laptop starting Nov. 17

One Laptop Per Child confirmed it will start selling the XO laptop through on Monday.

The XO laptop will be sold through Amazon in the same way as the G1G1 program, where a consumer donates US$400 for two laptops, with one of them delivered to a child in a developing nation.

Only Linux-based XO laptops will be available through Amazon, said Jim Gettys, vice president of software engineering at OLPC. A Windows version will not be sold.

For now, Amazon's U.S. storefront will sell the XO. OLPC is reviewing the possibility of selling the laptop through Amazon in other countries.

Designed for use by children in developing countries, the laptop has been praised for its innovative hardware features and environmentally friendly design. It comes with 1G byte of internal flash storage, 256M bytes of RAM, a 7.5-inch liquid-crystal display screen and wireless networking.

Depending on usage, the XO includes a specially designed lithium-ferro phosphate battery, which OLPC claims is more power efficient than commercial laptops. The laptop can also be run on solar power, foot pedal or pull-string, making it useful for situations where power is unreliable or unavailable.

OLPC, which is a nonprofit organization, competes in the global education market with Intel's Classmate PC. OLPC has lost orders to Intel as it recovers from restructuring and increases in the laptop's price and manufacturing costs.

An incremental update to the XO laptop is being prepared by OLPC that will allow the laptop to be faster and store more data. Code-named XO-1 Gen 1.5, the laptop may include a faster processor, increased flash storage, a new wireless chip and rubber bumpers for improved screen protection. The target ship date for the updated laptop is the first quarter of 2009, the organization has said.

OLPC has already announced XO-2, the next-generation laptop that will include a software-based, touch-sensitive keyboard and two touchscreen displays. That laptop is expected to ship in 2010.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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