Last week, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas announced an expansion of its (lowercase) olpc program to cover all high school students. The program is sponsored by Taiwan, and focuses on knowledge-sharing, creativity, and empowerment of students.
Glenn Phillip, Minister of Youth Empowerment, told the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly:
“In his foresight the Prime Minister did not just require that each student is provided with a laptop, but rather that each student receives a tool that could help shape them into productive citizens, innovative thinkers, problem solvers, a new breed of citizen, equipped to form part of a Knowledge Society.”
That’s the sort of international partnership the world could use more of.
Part 2 of a review of the XO-1.5
Over 90,000 Uruguayan high school students will receive a new XO-1.5 HS (High School edition) laptop. So how is it different from the XO-1 that their younger classmates have?
From the outside, the XO-1.5 HS has the same feel — it’s the same size, and the same antenna ears… though they feel different somehow in dark blue. The color variation on the backplate is more limited — there may be just one set of colors to match the dark blue casing.
To make it easier to use for high school students, the keyboard features larger keys for larger fingers — and it’s now a standard responsive, ‘clicky’ keyboard rather than a waterresistant membrane. Its light/dark blue color scheme represents Uruguay’s national colors, more subtler than the bright green of the other XOs.
Since we redesigned the keyboard, we took the opportunity to make a few other handy changes. The new keyboard screws in and pops out without dismantling the bottom of the XO — taking 2 minutes rather than 15 to swap one out.
I tried it myself during my first XO teardown – the keyboard was probably the easiest thing for me to get out. We did a half tear down and photographed it, so we can also add guidelines for upgrading your disk on the 1.5’s motherboard. And now people seem to be making hybrids of XO-1.5s with the new keyboard (see our Flickr stream for more). I’ll post again when the new repair guide section is ready.
We have been working on a new XO laptop for high school students — one with a larger and more responsive keyboard better suited to the hands of older students. And Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal, expanding into high schools across the country, will be the first recipient — they’ve ordered 90,000 of the first production run.
These XO-1.5 HS machines are largely the same as a regular XO-1.5: they are VIA machines with Sugar and Gnome desktops, running both Sugar activities and Gnome apps. Only the bottom half is different: they have ‘clicky’ rather than membrane keyboards by default, and the base has been redesigned so that keyboards are much easier to swap out or clean — there are two screws you can access from the battery compartment that release the keyboard, then you can pop it out. No more 10-minute teardowns!
The new machines will be shades of dark and light blue; the factory is still working on getting the plastics and dye selection just right. I saw an early stab at this design, and it was very sexy — but I haven’t seen the final keyboard model they are using yet. As a keyboard fanatic (I can get 70wpm on my XO-1), I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the first one back in the office and will post a review for you.
Now that we have a half-dozen designs or models, we’ll need to come up with a better naming scheme… I’m taking suggestions for names and themes.