I do sincerely believe that Laptops will take off in much the same way as mobiles did, moving into the mainstream with prices dropping. One particular application I think is very applicable is schoolchildren and college students using them in place of paper and pens - but only when we can have cheap and durable laptops.

It's interesting then to read about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology coming up with a design for a $100 laptop computer that is intended to be used by children and to be durable, flexible and self-reliant. There's a very interesting design here, with an AC adapter that would double as a carrying strap, and a hand crank would power the laptop when there's no electricity. The device's display is designed to shift from full colour to glare-resistant black and white for outdoor reading, and the laptops would have a rubber casing that closes tightly, making them indestructible. Now this is what we need.

Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT Media Lab leader, hatched the $100 laptop idea after seeing children in a Cambodian village benefit from having notebook computers at school that they could also tote home to use on their own.

Those computers had been donated by a foundation run by Negroponte and his wife. He decided that for kids everywhere to benefit from the educational and communications powers of the Internet, someone would have to make laptops inexpensive enough for officials in developing countries to purchase en masse. At least that's Negroponte's plan.