Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Cost of ballyhooed `US$100 laptop' climbs to US$188


The vaunted "US$100 laptop" that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers dreamed up for international schoolchildren is becoming a slightly more distant concept.

Leaders of the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child that was spun out of MIT acknowledged on Friday that the devices would cost US$188 if mass production, expected to begin this fall, were to start now.

The last price the nonprofit had announced was US$176; it said US$100 was a long-term goal.

One Laptop Per Child said it has commitments for at least 3 million of its "XO" computers, though it would not disclose which countries were first in line.

Among the nations that have shown interest are Brazil, Libya, Thailand and Uruguay.

The XO machines feature an open-source interface designed to be intuitive for children, a display readable in sunlight, very low power consumption, built-in wireless networking, and a pull cord for recharging by hand.

The laptops are being made by Taiwan's Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦), the world's leading maker of portable computers.

George Snell, spokesman for One Laptop Per Child, said a variety of factors were at play, including currency fluctuations and rising costs of such components as nickel and silicon.

He said the project was committed to keeping the price from rising above US$190.

While less than US$200 for an innovative, wireless-enabled, hand-powered laptop is a relative bargain, a price nearly twice what the project's memorable nickname promised could make it harder for One Laptop Per Child to sign up international governments as customers. Those governments are expected to give the computers to children for them to keep and tinker with, which the project's founders believe will cause critical thinking and creativity to blossom.

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