MIT’s OLPC Gets Name, Field Testing

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MIT’s One Laptop Per Child portable Linux-based system aimed at the developing world will be apparently be named the Children’s Machine 1, or CM1. The OLPC project has also confirmed to that 500 unit will enter field tests in September 2006, with full production scheduled to begin in November. The systems will be manufactured by Chinese computer maker Quanta; the four countries leading interest in the CM1 systems are Nigeria, Thailand, Brazil, and Argentina, although none have formally signed purchase agreements for the machines. Originally aiming for a $100 price point, it’s now looking like the CM1’s will land at about $140 apiece.

The CM1 has features not found in the initial OLPC prototypes, including a 400MHz AMD Geode processor, an SD card slot, microphone and speaker jacks, and a video-capable digital camera. The CM1’s 7.5-inch LCD display will boast a mammoth 1200 by 900 reoslution, which—at 200 dpi—sports a higher reoslution than that vast majority of screens available on notebook systems today. The screen will offer a full-color more and a reflective, high-resolution mode that’s readable in direct sunlight. Both modes consume very little electricity—just one seventh the average power consumption for an LCD screen in a laptop for the transmissive color mode, and the reflective mode using a scant 0.2 watts. The entire system has a nominal operating power consumption of less than two watts. Also on board: 128 MB of DRAM, built-in Wi-Fi, and 512 MB of flash-based storage. The CM1 will run a portable version of Linux, using a developing interface called Sugar.

The OLPC project still faces challenges to find buyers for its system, and some high-profile naysayers have gone on record saying the world doesn’t want a $100 laptop. Nonetheless, the CM1 may turn out to be a remarkable achievement in pursuit of very ambitious goals.

*Edit 8/25/2006 – The CM1 will feature a 7.5-inch screen instead of the 8-inch screen reported.