OLPC's sub-$100 XO-3 tablet may have solar panel, satellite Internet

By on July 20, 2011, 9:04 PM

Not to be outdone by India's $35 tablet, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization has shared new details about its upcoming slate. Originally announced in 2009, the XO-3 is supposedly on track for release sometime early next year and will serve as budget computing solution for lesser-privileged children. When OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte initially shared the concept, it was expected to cost less than $100. Although the organization hasn't settled on an exact figure yet, it still believes the sub-$100 bracket is feasible.

Based on the latest information shared with PCWorld, the XO-3 will feature a protective rubber cover that could house an integrated solar panel, satellite Internet connectivity or an external hardware keyboard. The top of the slate's bezel will don a webcam, the bottom will carry a microphone and USB 2.0 ports, while a headphone jack will be on the side. Unsurprisingly, the device is expected to be powered by an ARM-based processor, though a specific chip isn't mentioned, and it will run Google's Android or Chrome OS.

The interview revealed an interesting exchange between OLPC and Microsoft. In March 2009, the organization urged Microsoft to add support for ARM's microarchitecture to Windows. Redmond refused at the time, but during CES this year, the software giant announced that its next desktop OS, Windows 8, would be fully compatible with ARM processors. "Microsoft had to make that move. I told Craig Mundie he would have to do it in two years," Negroponte said. "He said 'absolutely no, never.' It was two years to the week." Apparently, the decision came too late as OLPC isn't interested in offering the XO-3 with Windows.

The slate's development process is reportedly in limbo as the organization settles on a display technology. The organization wants to use a transflective screen (suitable for use in sunlight and other bright environments), except with richer visuals in e-ink and transmissive modes. A spin-off of Pixel Qi's hybrid screen is a likely candidate because it can operate in an both e-ink and normal LCD modes. The former would use ambient light to illuminate the display, thereby reducing the device's power consumption. Meanwhile, the latter mode would be less power-conscious, but ideal for watching full-motion video and other media formats.

User Comments: 7

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Ok where did that picture come from? I'm struggling though to see how it is related to this article...

matrix86 matrix86 said:


Ok where did that picture come from? I'm struggling though to see how it is related to this article...

Techspot always has a picture in their articles. This article is about a tablet that hasn't been produced yet, so they just found some random futuristic looking tablet picture and used it. The tablet is decribed to have satellite Internet connectivity, and it looks like the tablet in the picture is using a satellite or something. Not sure what the complaint is about, though. The picture is irrelevant. The article is the important thing.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

For sub $100 a computer solution solar powered would be amazing! Cant wait for it to come and all the hacks to become.

Guest said:

Do others agree with me that OLPC actually created the Netbook?

It seems like Netbooks came out after OLPC XO.

The big boys were worried this would hurt them.

Remember the "classmate" right after the XO?

I have an XO (buy one give one).

Still a slick innovative gadget.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

No, we don't agree that OLPC created the first netbook. The Apple Newton eMate was actually the first small form factor (sometime in the late 90's). XO didn't show up till 2005 as a prototype, and was officially released in either 06 or 07 (can't remember which one, but I think it was 07).

Guest said:

matrix86--I forgot about the Newton.

I guess I would rephrase to say OLPC XO was one that forced vendors to consider building netbooks.

The Newton was just to early to catch on.

Guest said:

Guest and matrix86 - the OLPC triggered a good amount of public interest about low cost portable computers (I remember people saying "I'd buy a 100 bucks machine like that!"), and the industry just followed the trend.

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