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Hands on the XO

My . . . uh . . . my baby daughter's XO has arrived. Yeah, that's the $100 OLPC laptop. It's not quite $100 yet, but it's getting there.

I ordered it through the G1G1 program offered by Amazon. They really had their act together, because I got it two days after I ordered it. It came in a nice Amazon cardboard shipping box. Inside was a square one laptop per child cardboard box that is well designed (see photo below). It looked far more professional and consumer-oriented than I would have imagined for a charity product.

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Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:20:53 +0000

Opening the box reveals a thank you letter from Nicholas Negroponte and an user manual pamphlet. There is a warning that it's "Not for use by infants". I hope my 1-1/2 years old daughter is not considered as an infant. :-)

Underneath the two sheets of paper is the actual XO laptop. There are only three separately packed items: the XO laptop, the battery, and the AC power adapter. The photo below shows the content of the OLPC cardboard box.

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Box Content.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:25:22 +0000

The following photo shows the three items in the box. The green AC power adapter is really cute. It's makes a mundane, dangerous household item into a fun supporting product. Noticed that the battery has five-cells.

I had wondered why they only used five cells in the battery pack. But after examining the laptop, I realized that the space for the sixth cells is taken up by the LCD swivel mechanism.

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Content Unwrapped.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:35:47 +0000

The following photo shows the laptop from the top. The child stick figure is really eye-catching. First impression of the laptop is that it is sturdy and heavy. Almost industrial like, if not for the pretty colors and cute characters. It feels a lot more sturdier than the MSi Wind U100 Netbook that I recently purchased. The battery also slips in and out of the laptop without much of an effort, unlike the MSi Wind U100. Overall, the XO laptop feels well designed.

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Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:39:59 +0000

It took me a while to figure out how to open the lid on the XO laptop. Unlike typical laptops, where you press a button, slide a switch, or just pull the lid open, the XO laptop had two secret latches. To open it, you had to extend the two rabbit ear antennas, then lift the lid. There were no grip locations on the lid, so it was difficult to figure out how to lift the lid.

But once it is opened (see photo below), it operates like any other tablet PC. Oddly, the LCD lid is quite heavy, while the base with the keyboard is thin and light. However, unlike the MSi Wind U100 Netbook that has a tendency to topple over, the XO laptop sits solidly on the table with the help of the laptop handles.

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XO Laptop Opened.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:46:24 +0000

After swiveling the LCD around a few times, the first thing I noticed is that the SD Card slot is position at a location that is almost impossible to get to. There is only one swivel position of the LCD, where you can to. It is almost like solving a Chinese puzzle try to figure out where that position is located. The photo below shows the only position where you can insert a SD Card.

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SD Card Slot.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:49:08 +0000

One beauty of the XO laptop is the ability to use it like a tablet (see photo below). That is one feature that is lacking in the netbooks that are storming the market. Unless you live in Japan, you won't find one this small with a swivel screen that you can turn into a tablet. Kids in emerging country has it good compared to the United States!

A year ago, while playing with my friend's XO laptop, I realized that it does not have a touch screen and the control pad and buttons does not control the mouse. So it was difficult to use it in tablet form. The LCD is probably still not a touch-screen, but I hope by now, the OLPC has found a way to control the mouse pointer with the control pad and buttons.

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Tablet Mode.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:53:20 +0000

The XO laptop's keyboard is made out of a rubber membrane (see photo below). It is suppose to be resistance to liquid. One of the reason my daughter has this laptop now (actually when Christmas comes around), is because she has dumped juice down my MSi Wind U100 keyboard. And she has pulled keys off my other keyboard. I'm hoping this rubber membrane material will be perfect for her.

The keyboard is much too small for an adult to touch type on comfortable. It is obvious immediately as soon as I tried it on my friend's XO laptop a year ago. The best thing to do is to set-up SSH daemon, and maybe VNC, on it so that you can manage it remotely with a full-size keyboard.

The touchpad is also really wide. I am not sure what you can do with it, but I'm looking forward to finding out. Notice that the buttons are designated with 'X' and 'O'. Is that where the XO name came from?

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Keyboard and Touch Pad.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 09:59:14 +0000

There are a lot of stuff on the LCD lid (see photo below). There are two speakers, a game pad with buttons, the power button, some indicator lights, a microphone, and a web cam.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Seattle for business. It was the first time I was away from the baby. So when I called home, and mom put my voice on the speaker phone, my baby daughter started looking around the room for me. I vowed to never do that again.

That is one of the reason to get a MSi Wind U100 Netbook for myself and this XO laptop for my daughter. I am going to set up the web cams and the microphones on both computers, so that when I travel, I can video chat with my baby daughter. She'll never wonder where my voice is coming from again.

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LCD and Controls.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:04:52 +0000

On the right side of the LCD lid are two USB port (see photo below). You'll have to extend the rabbit year antenna to get to the USB ports. Interestingly, the USB ports are laid out in different orientation. Did the designer want to make it more fun for the kids?

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USB Ports on the XO Laptop.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:07:37 +0000

There is the power socket, another USB port, a headphone port, and a microphone port on the left side of the LCD lid (see photo below). You'll have to extend the rabbit year antenna to get to the latter three ports. I'm not too crazy about the rabbit ears, because that is one moving device that my baby daughter might destroy. The LCD swivel mechanism is another, but that's a good risk to take for tablet capability.

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Ports on the Left Side of the LCD Lid.JPG

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:11:00 +0000

At this point, I have not powered on the laptop yet. But when I do, you'll definitely hear my comments about it. I think I'll leave that for another night in a different thread.

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:12:17 +0000

Looks great! Maybe I'll get one for Kaylie in the future. I'd like to see you try charging it using a car battery!

Erick Cortes
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 16:17:34 +0000

What do you mean? Charging it with a car battery? Do you mean with a car charger while you are driving around?

Chieh Cheng
Fri, 21 Nov 2008 21:51:52 +0000

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Title: Awaiting for My XO
Weblog: GearHack
Excerpt: My XO has shipped. That's the message I got from Amazon exactly one day I ordered two XO laptops from its "Give one. Get one." program. Of course, I will only get one of the laptops--correction, my one year old daughter will get one of the laptops. The other one is being donated to a child in the em . . .
Tracked: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:14:26 +0000

Title: Thoughts on Lenovo S10 Netbook?
Weblog: GearHack
Excerpt: Yeah. My baby dumped juice over the keyboard. After I washed it and cleaned it up, the keyboard no longer works. That means the WiFi and Bluetooth also no longer works. I decided to replace my Windows server with it, since that's what I've been thinking about ever since I measure the laptop to run a . . .
Tracked: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 10:15:19 +0000

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