XO-3 Announcement?

Christoph Derndorfer christoph.derndorfer at gmail.com
Mon Jan 9 19:29:38 EST 2012

On Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM, John Watlington <wad at laptop.org> wrote:

> On Jan 7, 2012, at 8:49 PM, Chris Leonard wrote:
> > On Sat, Jan 7, 2012 at 6:40 PM, Alan Eliasen <eliasen at mindspring.com>
> wrote:
> >>  Does anyone have any comments about the XO-3 announcement here?
> >>
> >>   http://tinyurl.com/74vd7ec
> >>
> >>   I'd think that the smart people who are actually doing all the work
> >> here might have talked about it more!
> Fortunately, I still am an OLPC employee!
> XO-3 has been condensing for the last year, mostly as an industrial
> design effort while XO-1.75 (which has been discussed on this list,
> and distributed to a number of developers) provided the platform for
> hardware and software development.
> >>   I'm also curious about the power claims.  What is its power
> >> consumption and charging requirements?  Has it actually been
> >> demonstrated to be chargeable by "solar panels, hand cranks and other
> >> alternative power sources?"  Especially ones not requiring systems which
> >> cost many times more than the price of the laptop, nor require someone
> >> with the green skin color of the XO to crank.
> > ...
> > If you've been following XO-1.75 development on this list, it might be
> > helpful to think of the XO-1.75 as an evolutionary step towards the
> > XO-3.0...
> Right!  At this stage in development, the XO-1.75 actually consumes
> one to two watts less than the XO-3, due to the low power PixelQi
> screen and the DCON architecture used throughout the XO-1 laptops.
> We intend on providing those in a later B-stage XO-3 tablet, but need
> to get a PixelQi display of appropriate size and a new DCON developed.
> Theoretically, the power consumption of the laptop and the tablet should
> be equal (given the same screen size).
> We not only support input from solar panels (accepting input voltages
> from 11 to 24V on the DC input) we also support maximum power point
> tracking on the input if it is sensed to have a "high" input impedance
> (such
> as a solar cell).   Solar power is used to charge laptops in both XO-1
> and XO-1.5 deployments.  XO-1.75 has the same DC input/battery, and
> operates using less power --- it finally reaches the power goals that OLPC
> set six years ago.
> With a 2 to 3W power consumption, a laptop/tablet becomes feasible
> to use with power coming from a hand crank providing 10W --- crank
> for five minutes to get twenty minutes of use.   We support charging
> at up to 25W, close to the limit of human powered charging, for more
> ambitious quick charging schemes (such as treadmills or stationary
> bikes).    If this is used as a backup for solar charging, it becomes
> even more acceptable.
> > ...I'm really excited by the possibilities that a virtual
> > keyboard on the tablet XO-3.0 will represent for ease of localization,
> > no more messy, physical,  custom silk-screening of rubber membranes as
> > a limitation on the potentially available keyboard options, just
> > invoke different file(s) for a new keyboard layout.
> It is the elimination of the keyboard that excites me most about a tablet.
> It is difficult to prevent keyboard breakage, and the keyboard
> customization
> that we recommend so kids can work in their own alphabet impacts
> delivery times and production volumes.
> > My current understanding is that the firmware will be the latest and
> > greatest in Open Firmware, with OLPC's specific needs being addressed
> > by contributions from OLPC coders.  If you've been watching the devel
> > list, you've probably seen a fair amount of traffic about Fedora on
> > ARM.  Just like Sugar on earlier XO models, the Sugar UI on the
> > XO-1.75 (and XO-3) sits on top of what is basically a Fedora Linux OS
> > spin,.  Obviously the packages are a little different (they are ported
> > to ARM) but they still come from Fedora repos.
> With an ARM SoC, we are finally being forced to consider specialised
> builds of Fedora as hard floating point support is required for the best
> performance.  But we haven't gone there yet.
> > Being an ARM processor, it is not a huge mental leap to imagine that
> > Android code can be used. although I'm not sure why you would do that in
> > an educational setting, but "open" means "open", so sure, why not let
> > people know about that possibility and bask in the Android spotlight
> > at CES.
> With the laptops, support for Windows was a requirement for some
> customers even though they didn't actually purchases
>                                                 any laptops w. Windows
> installed.   Android is the equivalent for
> tablets --- if you don't support it, you are viewed as deficient.

(TL;DR - I don't think Android is as big a - real or perceived -
requirement as Windows was. Plus large 1-to-1 projects seem to be moving
towards heterogeneous technology solutions so we'll have to figure out
better ways of cross-platform support in educational technologies either

I'm wondering whether that equivalence will really hold true in the future.

It's my understanding and underlying assumption that there's not just the
"the kids gotta learn to use Windows because that's what the workplace
expects them to know" argument. One other reason why some
countries/projects were and/or are keen on having Windows compatibility is
so teachers can continue using existing software solutions for
administrative purposes or what not.

Now first of all it seems like at least some projects are moving towards
giving pupils and teachers different devices with different operating
systems (in many cases dual-boot for teachers). Uruguay's Plan Ceibal is
certainly experimenting with this approach as is Costa Rica in its project
with Fundación Quirós Tanzi. Plus if I'm not mistaken other RFPs will soon
be out there which also call for different machines for pupils and teachers
with the potential of running a dual-boot setup.

Secondly, and probably more importantly, neither of the aforementioned
assumptions are really true with Android. I've yet to hear the argument
that pupils absolutely need to use Android (or iOS for that matter) based
devices today because that's what they gotta know tomorrow. Plus there
frankly speaking aren't too many apps focused on education (regardless of
for learning or administration) available for Android today (
https://market.android.com/apps/EDUCATION?feature=category-nav). I had a
tough time finding German ones when I recently tested the Samsung Galaxy
Tab 10.1 and the number of Spanish ones seems relatively small as well (and
don't even get me started on Quechua, Aymara, Dari or Amharic). In
combination with the absence of many years of Microsoft lobbying this gives
Android vs. Sugar a much smaller pull factor than in the previous Windows
vs. Sugar situation.

I therefore believe that OLPC should have an easier time doing the
necessary groundwork when it comes to what Sameer in a related
context called "managing perceptions" and the associated expectations by
key stakeholders. This should hopefully also translate into more friendly

Last but not least I strongly believe that all players in this area have to
move towards more educational technology compatibility across hardware and
software platforms (and a number of other areas such as monitoring,
assessment, TOC calculations, etc. but that's for another time;-). While
a homogeneous technology solution would maybe make some lives easier I
think that especially in (very) large scale 1-to-1 projects we'll
increasingly see a mix'n'match of heterogeneous solutions. IIRC Plan Ceibal
today uses at least 3 different hardware platforms (XO-1, XO-1.5/1.5HS,
JumPC/Olidata - soon to be joined by XO-1.75s) and a variety of different
versions of Sugar, SoaS, and Ubuntu. As such we'll all have to find better
ways of co-existance which don't put unnecessary burdens on pupils,
teachers, administrators, and parents.


> > None of this information has been hidden from public view.  In fact
> > there is a lot more in terms of details on the wiki, but being a wiki,
> > the details are subject to change. :-)
> Or more likely, obscured by all the old, out of date or speculative, info.
> See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XO_3_A1 for the latest prototype info.
> > I anxiously await the results of the helicopter drop test :-)
> I thought tablets could fly...
> Cheers,
> wad
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Christoph Derndorfer

volunteer, OLPC (Austria) [www.olpc.at]
editor, OLPC News [www.olpcnews.com]
contributor, TechnikBasteln [www.technikbasteln.net]

e-mail: christoph at derndorfer.eu
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