Sneak peek at the OLPC XO 4.0

6 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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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.