The $100 laptop is dead.
Long live the Children’s Machine 1 (CM1)!
While it’s not much of a surprise, MIT has announced that their low-cost educational computing device, which begins rolling out to students in Thailand this fall, will cost slightly more than $100 to produce.
Still the new price is only $140 for a machine that has some pretty interesting specifications.
Although MIT failed to reach the $100 price point, the Linux-based laptop is a remarkable achievement. Manufactured by Chinese hardware company Quanta, the rugged, portable computer features a 400mhz AMD Geode processor (the original prototypes had a 366mhz processor), 128MB of DRAM, built-in wireless support, and 512MB of flash memory for internal storage.
This version also comes with a microphone and digital camera that can capture both still and video images, something I don’t think was part of the original design.
YouTube better start adding additional server space.
However, the really remarkable part of this unit sounds like it will be the screen.
Technical details regarding the 8″ LCD screen have also been released, and despite the initial skepticism of the naysayers, the folks at MIT have hit a home run. The display will feature 1200×900 resolution. In a statement on the OLPC web site, project chairman Nicholas Negroponte reveals that the CM1 display “has higher resolution than 95 percent of the laptop displays on the market today, approximately one-seventh of the power consumption, one-third of the price, sunlight readability, and room-light readability with the backlight off.”
If nothing else, this project is going give affordable portable technology a big shove forward.
I have heard Nicholas Negroponte speak about the OLPC initiative twice in the past three months. Both times he mentioned that the initial cost would be about $135-140 per unit, but that they expect to see increased demand and increased production and greater economies of scale which will bring the price down to or below the $100 per unit within two years of the first units being shipped. This is still a monstrous undertaking which none of the suppliers are used to dealing with. He tells a funny story about negotiations with the maker of the screens. They said that they weren’t interested in his project at all until he told them how many millions of units they would be needing. All of the sudden they decided that they were interested. I wish them luck with their ambitious plans…this is a project that is truly trying to change the world, not just talk about doing so. Take care, Barry
While the technology is amazing, I can’t wait to have a screen like they describe, the implementation process scares me. $140 million buy-in without even a spare parts istrobution plan? Crazy to me.
Does there need to be a spare parts depot for this project? At $140 each (the price will drop when manufacturing ramps up), this is a unit to be replaced rather than fixed.
However, once the beta problems are worked out of the first machines off the assembly line, the vast majority of problems will be software, not hardware.