After years in the making, the One Laptop Per Child program’s XO-3 tablet will be shown in more or less final form next week at CES, according to the project’s founder, Nicholas Negroponte. The latest image of the tablet is shown here, though it is from some time back and may no longer be representative.
The price of the tablet will in fact be under $100, he said, though various options will put it over that. It has an 8-inch screen — traditional LCD, though it may be upgraded to a Pixel Qi display for power savings and e-paper-like capability. If they stuck to their original specifications, it will also be waterproof, durable, and about a quarter of an inch thick. The version they’re showing will run Android, though what version was not specified.
Solar panels, hand cranks, a bigger battery, and other accessories will be available, though no pricing has been given. It’s also unclear whether the device will be offered a la carte via retail, or will be limited to bulk purchases.
The tablet comes on the heels of the news that India’s own mass-market tablet, the Aakash, has garnered serious interest, selling thousands and producing interest potentially in the millions of units. The OLPC device will be more expensive, but I feel justified in saying it will likely be of a higher quality as well, though the future of the Aakash and tablets like it is in flux and both are totally incomparable to commercial tablets like the iPad.
Negroponte also said that they would be conducting a long-term experiment using the devices, collecting reading data from youths age 3-8 in India, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone. Apparently the tablets come with a reading platform that records audio and video and adapts its lessons to the needs of the children. Negroponte described it as possibly “the most important thing I have ever done… if it works.” Whether this is related to his plan to airdrop the devices onto remote regions was not made clear.
Needless to say, our team at CES will be seeking out the device and Negroponte himself if he is present. Watch our CES 2012 page for more information next week.