OLPC to Launch Touchscreen XO-2 Laptop in Q1 2010

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The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) association plans to launch the upcoming second generation of its low-cost XO laptop in the first quarter of 2010, according to an official from the group.

The XO-2, an update to the original XO laptop that's designed for low-cost computing for kids in developing nations, will carry two 16-inch by 9-inch touchscreens and eschew a keyboard. It opens like a book and can either be held vertically for reading, or horizontal for laptop computing. When used horizontally, the bottom touchscreen displays a keyboard for typing.

The new design is based on the fact e-books are a necessity for schools and should make reading easier.

"The e-book reader is the most popular function of the laptop," said Matt Keller, director of Europe, Middle East and Africa at OLPC, in an interview Wednesday.

The XO-2 was announced in May, but with scant details beyond a general 2010 time frame for its roll out. The new device will improve upon the XO, which has captured the world's imagination as a way to lower the cost of putting computers in the hands of kids throughout the world, thereby narrowing the gap between modern and developing nations in terms of computing expertise.

The XO currently costs around US$203 or $204 to make, said Keller, while the XO-2 will likely cost around $80.

OLPC's Web site says the goal of the project is to reach a price of $75 per laptop for educational buyers.

The key technology behind the new laptop is the touch screen, which is being developed by Mary Lou Jepsen at Pixel Qi. The company says it already has several screen manufacturers interested in building its screens.

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