Tuesday, November 6, 2007

MiTAC's education laptop

The other day I mentioned that I had written a piece on the impact of the Asus eee PC on the One Laptop Per Child project for OLPCnews.com. Today I came across an announcement that works the other way: it shows the impact of the OLPC project on low-cost computing, especially when it comes to education. In the press release it says:

"The first product to be jointly developed and manufactured by MiTAC and MIND will be a 7-inch notebook. All aspects of this 7-inch notebook’s design and functionality will be geared towards facilitating the education of young children aged three to twelve years old. Among the many unique features of this notebook will be a specially designed keyboard for use by children. The notebook will also feature a handwriting recognition platform for toddlers not yet able to operate a keyboard. The notebook will also sport a light-weight and durable casing, ideal for young children. Other notable features of this notebook include Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, a website filtering tool, karaoke functionality and web camera support."

I underlined the features that are similar to the OLPC's X0 while the bold text are things that the X0 does sport at the moment. (Yes, I'm indeed serious about the karaoke stuff!)

While I've never heard of MiTAC or MIND this announcement shows that more companies are starting to look into low-cost computing. While they're likely to share some key-characteristics with the X0 (low power-consumption, 7~9 inch screen, very durable, WiFi connectivity, smaller keyboards, etc.) they'll also come up with new and innovative features and applications. I for example really like the idea of seeing handwriting recogniting on these machines and as far as I know this is something that's not available for the X0 at the moment.

It remains to be seen whether the notebook really is available "in early 2008 in select Asia-Pacific markets" but I'm sure come CeBIT we're going to see more companies showing off products aimed at the same market. Good times... Good times indeed!

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