Sol Computer to sell a Pixel Qi-enabled netbook and tablet for $1K

Sol Computer, a California-based distributor that focuses on sunlight-readable technology, has a high-end line of rugged netbook laptops, is planning to sell a similar tablet for $950 later this year. It looks a lot like they are targeting an OLPC use case in the developed world — sunlight-readable, child- and abuse-friendly devices. Nice to know there is a market for that, and that it has discovered Pixel Qi.

Pixel Qi ships its 3 millionth display

Pixel Qi has shipped over 3 million displays in over fifteen laptop and tablet models; and XOs are becoming a minority of the worldwide usage of the robust low-power designs.

Their new displays continue to drop their power requirements; we would be able to save over half of the power our current displays draw by upgrading to the newest Qi design.  I have always loved this best of all of the tech innovations in the XO, and am delighted to see it take off as its own force for constructive change.

 

 

OLPC and Marvell announce the XO-3 tablet

Also: The first Marvell ARMADA-powered XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping in March to school children in Uruguay and Nicaragua

SANTA CLARA, Calif. / LAS VEGAS (Jan. 9, 2012) – Marvell Semiconductor (Nasdaq: MRVL), a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, and One Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping every child in the world gain access to a modern education, demonstrated a version of the much-anticipated XO 3.0 – a low-cost, low-power, rugged tablet computer designed for classrooms around the globe – at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.

“We’re proud to introduce the XO 3.0 tablet, showcasing the design, durability and performance features that make it a natural successor for our current laptops, which have been distributed to more than 2.4 million children in 42 countries and in 25 languages,” said Ed McNierney, Chief Technology Officer of One Laptop per Child. “The XO 3.0 builds on many of the technology breakthroughs we made with the XO 1.75, including the use of the Marvell® ARMADA® PXA618 processor, resulting in a significant decrease in power consumption-a critical issue for students in the developing world.”

“Marvell is committed to improving education–and the human condition-around the world through innovative technology for Smartphones, tablets and a myriad of new cloud-delivered services. Partnering with One Laptop Per Child is one way we can deliver a revolution where it matters most-to benefit children in some of the poorest places on the planet,” said Tom Hayes, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marvell, and a member of the OLPC advisory board. “Marvell has been with One Laptop per Child from the start, and we’re doing whatever it takes to help the organization realize its mission of providing meaningful educational opportunities to the 500 million school-aged children around the world.”

Marvell and One Laptop per Child also announced today that the XO -1.75 laptop will begin shipping to customers in March 2012. Over 75,000 units of the XO 1.75 have already been ordered by OLPC projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua. Both models use the Marvell ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor, which doubles the performance of the earlier XO 1 while using only half the power. The XO 1.75 features a sunlight-readable screen, and all other features and design characteristics of the two previous versions of the XO laptop.

The XO 3.0 tablet will also feature the Avastar Wi-Fi system-on-chip.
It is also the only tablet that can be charged directly by solar panels, hand cranks and other alternative power sources

Other features include:

• Updated Pixel Qi sunlight-readable display
• Choice of Android or Linux operating systems
• Unique charging circuitry to support alternate power sources
• Choice of laptop covers, including one with built-in solar panel

Pixel Qi forges ahead with partnerships, new tablets

Since Pixel Qi, our display manufacturer, announced the recent investment in their work by 3M, that connection has made a few headlines. 3M has noted that “the vision of ubiquitous displays comes much closer to realization.

Since then Pixel Qi have partnered with All American, a global distributor, and with ShiZhu Technology, who are designing a family of four tablets around Qi screens.

I hope this means new lineups and screen sizes will come more easily. I am looking forward to seeing this display tech become standard in handhelds and laptops of all sizes. And I’m also looking forward to the latest screen designs in the new XOs — it seems the already low power draw has dropped by half again.

OLPC XO-3 design update

The XO-3 design work is coming along, still scheduled for the end of next year.  The screen will be one of the latest Pixel Qi models.  They will run Linux, though what flavor is still under investigation; followers of C. Scott’s blog can read the full details there.  And like the XO-1.75, they will use an ARM chip.

In an IDG interview, Nicholas notes that design discussions about how to implement solar and satellite connectivity continue.  Meanwhile, those interested in working on software for the XO-3 are invited to get involved in XO-1.75 hacking this summer.

Contributors program versions of the beta-test boards will be available soon.

 

Sunlight is the best light: new Qi screens at Computex

PixelQi showed off its new higher-res 10.1″ and 7″ screens at Computex this week.   By some accounts they are the fastest-growing new display technology in a long time; they are certainly essential for our students’ normal daily use in African schools.

And the Telegraph’s Rick Maybury lampoons the aesthetics of sun shields answers a reader asking why he can’t use his laptop outside.  Hopefully there will be more positive answers to such questions next year, as this sort of display solution becomes commonplace.

New 10″ pixel qi display prototype available

Pixel Qi has developed a 1280x800 10″ display that they are showing off at Computex this month.   As with the 7″ display, hopefully this will be available as a kit for those hoping to retrofit it into their current laptops!  I have yet to get over the simply delight of using a Qi screen, and can’t wait until all screens use something like this technology. (I’m holding out for a 20+” version so I can set up my desktop outside when it’s sunny.)

 

Pixel Qi: an e-ink alternative with none of the drawback?

Pixel Qi confirmed last week that they are working on a 9.7″ screen for larger tablets, and blogged about their experience at CES. Charbax as usual has some great videos of both them and our own Ed McNierney. [for once he couldn’t decide whether to post the latter interview on his ARM-Watch site or his OLPC TV site…]

And according to one observer, Pixel Qi’s demonstrations at CES were all sorts of impressive, effectively cementing its reputation as an E-Ink alternative with all of the advantages and none of the setbacks .

XO-1.75 this summer: lower power, hopefully lower cost

The XO-1.75 prototypes are currently under development, and the laptops will enter mass production this summer. Some touchscreen prototypes are being made as well, but the primary model will not have touch. Thanks to Armada 610 ARM processors and improved Pixel Qi screens, the 1.75 will draw roughly half the power of the 1.5, while keeping roughly the same form factor and most of the existing industrial design.

These will be our first models with ARM chips, which we plan to use in our tablet designs later this year. The 1.75 should be roughly $20 cheaper to manufacture, than the 1.5, but the real drop in cost will come for rural deployments, as a result of the lessened power requirements. Not quite in the human-powerable range yet, but getting there.

The XO-3 will have a larger 9.7″ screen when it comes out in 2012, and will shave off another significant fraction of power – up to another full Watt.

Books in Browsers @ the Internet Archive

I’m at the Open Content Alliance‘s annual meeting, this year about Books in Browsers, hosted at the Internet Archive in SF. It’s an encouraging gathering, with a lot of the technical and social implementations lining up as people give their short presentations.

I spoke yesterday about the olpc use case of rural and offline schools (you can find my slides online on the OLPC wiki), where bookreaders and the books they can find are often all that students have in the way of a regional library. Others in the audience added that there is also often no historical division between receiving stories and creating your own, or a tradition of ‘received knowledge’ that publishers have decided is worth distributing.

A few wonderful bits of news: the Internet Archive’s bookreader, which is one of the best browser-based readers around, now works with touchscreen input (NTS: get them a 1.75 model once they’re available!; some of their sliders are too small/close to the screen edges for the XO bezel). Mary Lou brought a new Pixel Qi screen with her from Taiwan (she and John will both be @ SFSU tomorrow). And a lot of people in attendance (including many people who are building the next gen of bookreader) are working on one of the core ideas of modern collaboration — that everyone is both reader and author at different times.

My favorite quote from the event so far: “Before the writer was ‘author’, before the invention of [literary] ‘genius’, artists simply transmitted culture that preexisted: spongs, dances, text, stories, poems that didn’t ‘belong’ to anyone. And their skill was the skill to transmit, not of invention, and attributable to a [muse], not to personal genius.

I hope to see some of you tonight at 5pm at the opening party for the community summit!

Pixel Qi hack kit on display at MakerSHED

Make and Pixel Qi are (finally) offering a 10.1′ Pixel Qi hacking kit for $275.

It is guaranteed to work smoothly with the Samsung N130 and Lenovo S10-2 netbooks. You can coax it into working well on many other machines with a 10.1′ display, but it may not always be a perfect fit. If you try it on another model, let us and the Make folks know how well it fits.

Congrats to the Make team for making this available! I can’t wait to try this out on a few spare machines. Of course Bernie’s TwoHundredDollarLaptop has a much larger sunlight-readable display…

Pixel Qi in the limelight, Notion Ink speaks

Pixel Qi is showing off at Computex this week in Taipei, and Charbax just posted a detailed interview with Mary Lou Jepsen from the floor.   Look for the “Qi” button at 0:25, and serious geeking out on the physics and fab process starting at 5:00… and for the rest of the video! (For a quicker soundbite, he also posted this side-by-side iPad / iPhone / 3Qi comparison video yesterday.)

Notion Ink's Adam tablet, in portrait and landscape

Notion Ink's Adam tablet, with 3Qi screen

Pixel Qi are having a good quarter.  They are offering a variety of display options, including wide-view, anti-reflective coating, and a capacitive touchsreen. And they have started winning industry awards. More details, and a Notion Ink interview (they say their Adam tablet will release on time in a few months), after the jump.
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PixelQi update: 3Qi display enters production

When I joined OLPC in 2006, the first thing that blew my mind was the open collaborative process  used across the project.  The second was Mary Lou Jepsen‘s incredible  sunlight-readable screen.

When the first prototype came to our machine lab, I used to stop in every day before heading home, to spend a few minutes looking at it or using it.  The displays have a delicious matte quality (the original prototypes had a similar glossy one) that makes anything displayed on them look like a work of art — not unlike the effect of a good matte finish on a photo print, or a tuxedo on the boy next door.  And it’s low-power and inexpensive, the sort of technology shift that should become universal.

We have always been open about the tech that goes into our work, in the hopes that other designers and creators will learn from our experiences.  And this display, one of the miracles of the XO, has long been something we’ve hoped to see appear in other laptops and devices.

So it has been delightful to watch the growth of PixelQi, Mary Lou’s new company focusing on producing and distributing those displays.  Their latest screen is 10.1″ and slightly lower-power and higher contrast than the screen in the XO-1.  Here’s a side-by-side comparison of different displays in an office… one of them with its backlight off.

A Pixel Qi screen with its backlight off, next to standard computers with backlights on.  Bright office lighting.

A Pixel Qi screen with its backlight off, next to standard computers with backlights on, in bright office lighting conditions.

Today they announced they have started mass production, and will be on display with some of their first clients in at CES in January.   Technophiles may be lusting after them for indoor use, but we’re looking forward to the day that all netbooks are usable in outdoor classrooms.   To the PixelQi team: congratulations!

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http://pixelqi.com/

Making Books Transparent

Sayamindu and I have been contributing over the course of the year to a Bookserver initiative to define how digital texts are indexed, discovered, and distributed.  The Open Content Alliance organized a conference yesterday and today in San Francisco to help us move forward with Bookserver development, improve the draft specification.  It was an inspiring event, with a lot of good working code and interfaces to share with one another.  Brewster throws a mean party, and when he announced he was hosting one last night to celebrate the launch of the Bookserver project and the Archive’s move into a beautiful new space in the Presidio, some 500 people turned up.  I was pleased to run into Mary Lou, with four laptops sporting new Pixel Qi screens – low power, and yet so very hot.

I spoke about what OLPC is doing with this new specification – Sayamindu’s modified “Get Internet Archive Books” activity was the first client application to use the developing spec and beta book servers – and we spent some time brainstorming ways to improve OPDS.  It’s an open group and process – all input is welcome. Continue reading

Kicking off a gen-1.5 development process: Updating the XO hardware

XO + Tinkertoys(Box and Tinker) = Directional Cantenna

OLPC is excited to announce that a refresh of the XO-1 laptop is in progress. In our continued effort to maintain a low price point, OLPC is refreshing the hardware to take advantage of the latest component technologies. This refresh (Gen 1.5) is separate from the Gen 2.0 project, and will continue using the same industrial design and batteries as Gen 1. The design goal is to provide an overall update of the system within the same ID and external appearance.

In order to maximize compatibility with existing software, this refresh will continue with an x86 processor, using a chipset from VIA. The memory will be increased to 1 GB of DDR2 SDRAM, and the built-in storage will be 4 GB of NAND Flash with an option for 8 GB (installed at manufacture). The processor will be a VIA C7-M [1], with plans on using one whose clock ranges from 400 MHz (1.5 W) to 1GHz (5 W). The clock may be throttled back automatically if necessary to meet thermal constraints.
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