by December 1, 2011 0 comments






One of the objectives of public education in India is to make education available to every child. Public school kids come from a deprived socio-economic milieu where most of them don’t even progress to the next rung of education. However, it is hoped that good provisions like mid-day meal or computer at the earliest age can make learning faster.







Snapshot

Price: Rs 14,000
Meant for: School Kids
Key Specs: 7.5 inch, OS XO 1.5, 512 MB RAM, 4GB, expandable upto 32 GB, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, battery -3 hours
Pros: Design, Dual boot OS, Learning apps, battery
Cons: Slow, Complex UI, Price
Contact:http://olpcindia.net/
Write: pcquest@cybermedia.co.in with name of product in subject, for more info.

One of the objectives of public education in India is to make education available to every child. Public school kids come from a deprived socio-economic milieu where most of them don’t even progress to the next rung of education. However, it is hoped that good provisions like mid-day meal or computer at the earliest age can make learning faster.

Aakash, OLPC as means of education

While PCs have been included in the school curriculum, but they are not being used as means of education. Innovations like OLPC and Aakash have made this possible. Aakash tablet, launched by HRD ministry, is aimed at realizing an average college goer’s dream of owning a tablet. But is it worth it? The OS used in Aakash is actually a mobile phone version of Andriod OS (2.x.x) not the tablet version (3.x.x). The device does not have access to Android apps market. The battery backup is less than three hours. Also the resistive touchscreen is unresponsive. Though Aakash doesn’t have much to offer except for the price, it will help students get engaged in their own education. The hysteria around Aakash, takes us back to a similar but an older initiative called OLPC, which aimed at providing every school child with a specially designed XO laptop.

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OLPC, features and challenges

OLPC has a different story, just like it is different from our everyday laptop –right from its design to the user interface. Known as the brainchild of MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC is a movement that believes in providing laptop to school kids in poor countries, and has been a huge success in Latin America. Graced with rugged yet stylish looks and light form, OLPC has been created with kids and their approach to recreation and education in mind and comes with dual OS from Linux Fedora. Both Gnome and Sugar are stripped down versions of Linux Fedora with the latter catering to learning based applications for kids, while the former offers regular PC experience. Made of polycarbonate plastic fibre, which is widely used in laptops as well, OLPC is durable and sturdy and comprise of a screen and keyboard with a touchpad. The cushions and handles of the XO are designed to provide extra cushioning to protect its components, including the 1GB RAM and 4GB flash memory.

For networking, it solely relies on Wi-Fi and is available on both OS with ease. The navigation is slow and requires some training as the features and interface aren’t easily graspable.



The device comes with a webcam and dual speakers that give average output. Plenty of indicators and buttons have been added around the screen for gaming and easy maneuvering through apps. The screen is swivel based and rotates 360 degree. One of the benefits of OLPC is that it uses some new LCD backlight technology to make the LCD viewable under sunlight. It can be folded into tablet mode and can be browsed via the gamepad on the right, particularly web browsing.

Comparing OLPC with Aakash & a Acer Netbook

Specs

OLPC

Aakash

Acer Aspire One D257

Processor XO 1.5 366Mhz Atom
Memory 512 MB RAM 256 MB RAM 1 GB RAM
HDD 4GB, expandable upto 32 GB 2GB, expandable upto 32 GB 250/320/500GB
interface 7.5 inch, 1200×900 7 inch resistive touch display 10.1 inch, 1024×600
OS XO Android 2.2 Windows 7, Android
Connectivity Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 3G, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, memory card slot GPRS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0
battery 3 hours 2 hours 6 hours
price 14k 2.5k 15k

The XO has a very different form of wireless that supports the old-style of connecting to wireless access points. This connectivity is named “mesh networking,” and connects through an entire community, sharing an Internet connection. The mesh networking allows people within the community to share resources with each other such as documents, pictures, music, and videos. The battery back-up of OLPC is quite good, even though the battery is not very powerful. The fact that it uses simple tools that helps in lower consumption of power.

OLPC, the future and relevance

OLPC has been designed to engage students to play, learn and produce reports or assignments unlike a tablet. It intends to sell XO laptops to the governments, which would then see that each primary school kid owns an XO laptop. One of the biggest strains on the government in developing nations is the huge expectation of welfare that it has to fulfil. Subsidies run from food to petrol; so to provide a 14k laptop to every primary school kid, which is the principal idea behind OLPC, is just not in their budget. Technically, it isn’t possible unless the ideological and cost barriers are taken care-of for it to work in India. Also providing Wi-Fi connections to schools, which don’t even have benches for children, is an illusion thus destined to flop.

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