The $100 Laptop Plan Causes Mixed Feelings

Tech News

Earlier this week at a United Nations Internet summit, Nicholas Negroponte of MIT showed off the current design for the $100 laptop. According to one article, his goal is to distribute the laptops to 100-150 million students. Apparently five companies are bidding to make the laptop, though we don’t know which five. As Computers.net has scanned the Internet for information about the topic, it’s found both positive and negative comments:

Microsoft’s Craig Mundie (chief technical officer for advanced strategies) says, “We’re in serious discussions to determine what the appropriate type of involvement is with us with their project.” While Gretchen Miller of Dell (director of world-wide marketing for mobile) explains, “We don’t believe it’s feasible at this point to manufacture a $100 notebook that meets our quality performance standards. Those things are all customer driven.”

Computers.net translation: “We at Microsoft sure hope there’s some way to avoid the tragedy of 150 million students living in a Microsoft-less world, and we at Dell aren’t one of the five companies bidding, as we have no idea how we’d make any money.”

ZDNet UK added itself to the pessimistic team when it called the laptop a “$130 giant PDA.” Legitimate questions were asked as to how development of the unreleased, cheaper and better LCD screen would be possible. Also, the role of the hand-crank and built-in wireless were questioned.

This article explains that 1 minute of cranking will allow the laptop to run in black-and-white mode for 40 minutes, though data isn’t available for the power-sucking color mode. The project’s website has a fairly detailed FAQ, which answers some questions relatively well. For example, MIT recognizes that Internet may not necessarily be available in many areas. It’s noted that the laptops will be able to network with themselves with or without an Internet backbone, a big positive.

All in all, it’s a commendable project that we can’t help but support. Let’s just hope they’re able to pull it off.

Please see this article for the initial Computers.net release as well as for more pictures. Latest update: Check out the video documentary of the project.

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