There’s lots of talk going on about the OLPC XO-1.75 now. A lot of it is inaccurate.

I’ll quote John Wat­ling­ton, VP of Hard­ware Engin­eer­ing at OLPC:

Dis­claim­er: I’m VP of Hard­ware Engin­eer­ing at OLPC

ARM pro­cessors power­ful enough the sup­port the user exper­i­ence we wanted weren’t read­ily avail­able (at the price point we work at) four years ago, when work star­ted on the ori­gin­al XO design.

There were sev­er­al errors in that news art­icle which I would like to clear up:

  • the XO-1.75 will not have an 8.9″ screen, but will con­tin­ue with the sun­light read­able 7.5″ screen designed by Mary Lou Jepsen (now at Pixel Qi) used in the XO-1 and 1.5.
  • the $165 price is fic­tion (BOM price hasn’t been final­ized), but prob­ably not very far from the truth for the non-touch­screen equipped ver­sion. Please don’t for­get that since we don’t add any profit mar­gin, the laptop price dir­ectly depends on the volume ordered.
  • the switch to ARM was com­pletely inde­pend­ent of any future sup­port for ARM in Win­dows. That sup­port was announced this week, while I’ve been pur­su­ing this ARM design for three years, with act­ive devel­op­ment over the last eight months. Fur­ther­more, we are using the Mar­vell Armada 610, which won’t be sup­por­ted by Win­dows (if you believe M$).
  • Linux has shipped, and will con­tin­ue to ship, on EVERY XO pro­duced. You can believe ran­dom com­menters, or you can believe the per­son who signs off on every SKU produced.

I’ll also add that a lot of work has gone into soft­ware devel­op­ment, includ­ing port­ing Fedora 14 to ARM and adding multi-touch sup­port to the Sug­ar UI. This has been a long time in the mak­ing, and the announce­ment of Microsoft’s ARM port is a coin­cid­ence. Sorry, no riv­et­ing con­spir­acies here.

Some media reports have been imply­ing that mass pro­duc­tion will start by mid-year. This is incor­rect. It may pos­sibly be that the design is final­ised by then, but plan­ning and tool­ing for mass pro­duc­tion and deliv­er­ies is quite an endeav­our bey­ond that.

If you want the real inform­a­tion on the XO-1.75, look at the OLPC Wiki page. Right now, they’re up to Alpha test mod­el 2. If you want to view or take part in the devel­op­ment dis­cus­sion, head over to the devel mail­ing list (strictly speak­ing, this list is for soft­ware devel­op­ment, but the com­munity are dis­cuss­ing the hard­ware there too).

Speak­ing for OLPC Aus­tralia, it’s far too early to say what we’ll do about the XO-1.75. I’m watch­ing it with great interest. Just as we com­pleted the world’s first deploy­ment of XO-1.5 devices, I’m keen for us to do pion­eer­ing work and lead the way. If you want to be kept updated and take part in OLPC Aus­tralia tech­nic­al devel­op­ment, see our par­ti­cip­a­tion page.

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