Skip to main content

Hands on with the XO Learning Tablet – Has OLPC sold out?

Last year the One Laptop Per Child project showed off a slate tablet dubbed the XO 3.0. Hailed as the next logical step in the OLPC mission to bring inexpensive, easy to maintain computers to children in developing countries, the XO 3.0 landed with a lot of fanfare but ultimately never came to fruition. The project went back to focusing on netbook-like tablet convertibles, but the OLPC slate idea didn’t die. This year, the XO tablet is back, though without the accompanying fanfare. Even more interesting, it’s being sold in retail stores and made by one of the biggest manufacturers of low-cost electronics for kids and teens: Vivitar.

In fact, the XO Learning Tablet looks almost identical to the company’s Camelio Android family tablets. OLPC’s tablet has better specs than the Camelio and will cost a bit more. And it looks almost nothing like the XO 3.0 from last year.

The 7-inch XO Learning Tablet has a 1.6GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, front and rear cameras, HDMI out, and runs on Android 4.0. In other words, a pretty standard low-cost Android slate. It comes with a sleeve that makes it look somewhat like the renders of the original XO 3.0 tablet, and that’s where the similarities end. This tablet isn’t rugged, powered by the sun, or even easily fixable like the XO Tablet PC. So, what’s the point?

Price, most likely. The XO will cost $150, according to Vivitar reps, fulfilling the goal of an inexpensive tablet.

Granted, the XO also features OLPC’s learning platform, another key part of the project’s mission. Kids can choose to explore apps via “I Want To Be…” themes or just switch over to regular Android. Some parental controls are available.

What we find interesting is that OLPC decided to team up with a company like Vivitar, a subsidiary of Sakar. This company is known for creating low-end electronics and coating them with licensed brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels, Hello Kitty, Nickeloedon, and more. Essentially, the XO tablet is just another branded product in Vivitar’s stable destined for retail stores. There are even branded accessories.

Is this an acknowledgment that a tablet like the XO 3.0 just isn’t possible? Or is it a smart way to build up the OLPC coffers so the project has more money to put into development of their more serious computer?

Editors' Recommendations

K. T. Bradford
Former Digital Trends Contributor
K. T Bradford is a lover of gadgets and all things geek. Prior to writing for Digital Trends she cut her teeth on tech…
RCA launches four tablets and six phones at CES 2017 — and the price is right

RCA, the classic audio company that turned its focus to consumer electronics, has announced a slew of new Android and Windows smartphones and tablets that promise to deliver pretty decent specs at a low price.

How low of a price? Well, the cheapest of the new smartphones, called the RCA RLTP169, can be had for a measly $40 -- although you won't get much for that price. The device, which only supports 2G connectivity, is built for older users who might not want a smartphone that can do all those fancy new tricks.

Read more
Is it the Honor Honor Pad 2, or just the Pad 2? Either way, Honor has a new tablet
Huawei Honor 5C

Honor, the smartphone brand which shares technology with Huawei, has announced several new devices at an event in China. The new Honor 6X smartphone took center stage, but it was joined by the Honor S1 smartwatch and a tablet called the Honor Pad 2. Does this, rather clumsily, make it the Honor Honor Pad 2? Or is it the Honor Pad 2? At the moment, it's one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time.

Huawei also recently revealed a new tablet, the MediaPad M3, which we really like; but sadly the Honor Pad 2 doesn’t quite meet the strong specifications offered by the Huawei machine. Instead, it’s closer to Huawei’s MediaPad M2 from 2015. There are two versions, one with Wi-Fi and the other with an LTE modem for on-the-move tablet fun. It has an 8-inch display on the front, and the resolution is 1920 x 1200 pixels, ideal for showing off Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Honor’s user interface over the top.

Read more
Amazon is now selling its Fire HD 8 tablet for $90, and it has Alexa
amazon fire hd 8 tablet alexa feature

Apple and Sony weren't the only ones with new hardware up their sleeve this week. On Thursday, Amazon announced a refreshed version of the Fire HD 8 it released in September of last year that's cheaper, significantly more powerful, and is the first of the retail giant's tablet devices to feature a digital voice assistant.

At $90, the Fire HD 8 starts at a little more than half the price of the old $150 model, but the hardware's been improved across the board. The refreshed model starts with a minimum of 16GB of storage -- more than double the 8GB packed in last year's model -- and lasts 12 hours on a charge, four more hours than last year's model. Rounding out those silicon enhancements is "50 percent more" RAM (1.5GB total), plus a Micro SD Card slot that can accommodate cards up to 200GB in size.

Read more