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OLPC XO Scales Up for High Schoolers

The One Laptop Per Child project, which promised $100 laptop computers for education in the developing world, is giving its original XO notebook a bit of an upgrade: a larger keyboard to accommodate the larger hands of secondary school students, along with an expanded software package the dual boots the OLPC’s own Sugar interface as well as Linux with a Gnome desktop environment. The new laptops—dubbed the XO-HS—have been ordered by Uruguay’s Plan Ciebal, which wants 90,000 of the XO-HS units to complement the 380,000 OLPC laptops the country is already integrating into its educational system.

Plan Ceibal has also ordered 10,000 Classmate PCs from Intel.

“Until now, the 1.2 million students worldwide using XO laptops had no comparable computer to ‘grow up’ to,” said OLPC Association CEO Rodrigo Arboleda, in a statement. “The XO high school edition laptop demonstrates how the XO and its software can easily adapt to the needs of its users.”

The XO-HS will feature the same basic industrial design as the existing XO laptops, although they’ll be based on a VIA processor and offer about twice the performance and four times the RAM and storage of the original XO—that should equate to 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage. The XO-HS will also sport a dual-boot Linux operating system, offering both the education-focused Sugar interface developed by the OLPC, as well as the the Gnome Desktop environment that can let students have a shot at mainstream productivity applications. The XO-HS laptops will also be bundled with age-appropriate learning software, and OLPC plans to offer case color variations on the high school model.

The OLPX XO-HS laptops should start reaching Uruguay in September. Although the XO notebooks have been made available to U.S. consumers through giving programs, there’s no word yet on whether the spiffed-up and larger-keyed XO-HS will be generally available.

Last month, OLPC announced a partnership with Marvell to create a series of low-power, education-focused tablet-based computers.

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