Sneak peek at the OLPC XO 4.0


The newest One Laptop per Child (OLPC) device made its debut at the CES Unveiled event in Las Vegas tonight, although it might have been by accident.

Marvell was demonstrating its Smile Plug e-learning platform, with the newest OLPC device just sort of sitting on the table, apparently as eye candy. Well, it certainly was that.

The OLPC XO 4.0 sports a touch screen and keyboard, and folds three ways: as a tablet, a netbook or a well protected carrying case. Check the video for how it transforms from one to another.

First look at the OLPC XO 4.0.

The OLPC Foundation announced the specs for the device a couple of months ago, but didn't show a working model. No one from the organization was at tonight's event, and the Marvell representatives couldn't say much about the functionality. But they could talk about the chipsets that power it.

The XO 4.0 is basically a big smart phone without the phone. It runs on a Marvell Armada PXA2128 dual core ARM processor and connects wirelessly via a Marvell Avastar 88W8787 WiFi and Bluetooth SoC. Both are standard Marvell products originally designed for use in mobile devices. Which means power requirements are low – a necessity in developing countries – and the technology is relatively inexpensive – a key feature of the OLPC program.

No details were available on what it costs to build. Battery life and screen performance were thought to be on a par with the previous version 3 of the XO.

The XO 4 has a form factor that parents and kids in any country would love. The original OLPC was the spark that launched the netbook category. This version has similar mass market breakout potential. The OLPC Foundation won't be selling it to consumers – they work on different business model – but there are plenty of companies here at CES that would be happy to do so.


About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.