I’ve been looking at the XO Giving program of the One Laptop Per Child Project. For $400, you buy two of these fascinating little green laptops. One of them goes to a child in a developing country. The other one you keep.
There’s some controversy about the laptop and the program, but I think that it is a fascinating experiment that could have some far-reaching benefits, and I would like to support it.
The machine itself is neat: it is designed with a minimal number of moving parts (it uses flash memory instead of a hard drive, for example), the screen contorts for comfortable e-book viewing, it consumes very little power and can be recharged by a hand crank, it is durable – designed for use by children is suboptimal weather conditions. Specs are here.
If I got it, I’d probably use it as a word processor, web browser, e-book reader, a travel machine, and a tabletop rpg accessory.
The two drawbacks:
1. This thing is small. Is it too small for comfortable use? I don’t know… the keyboard would certainly be a step up from my cellphone, but a step down from my work laptop. The screen is only 7.5″ viewable (about 6″ on the horizontal).
2. It runs Linux. This is normally-speaking an advantage. I’d like to play with Linux on a machine… unfortunately, this might cut into its usefulness at the gaming table, as I wouldn’t be able to use it with the whole Wizard’s Digital Initiative thingamabob.