updated 11:40 pm EST, Sun January 8, 2012
Basic hardware for widespread adoption
Marvell brought its XO 3.0 tablet--the brainchild of One Laptop Per Child--to Las Vegas ahead of CES, where Electronista took the opportunity to finally handle the education-focused device. Although the tablet shares many hardware features with Android-based offerings, the physical build and OLPC's own Linux-based Sugar OS offer a much different experience.
We tried out one of the Sugar apps, Turtle Art, which enables users to create shapes and other drawing creations. The particular app was difficult to use for a newcomer, though it may be easier for others.
Unfortunately we only had a chance to try out the Sugar OS version of the tablet, though the project will also offer an alternative edition outfitted with Android. We expect the Android edition to be a bit more intuitive on a touchscreen tablet, as the Sugar OS seemed to be more suited to keyboard and mouse input.
The build quality seems robust, fitting with the organization's desire to distribute the tablets to places where they will be heavily used and abused. Marvell also brought a hand-crank charger and solar panels that are designed to recharge the XO's batteries far away from the grid. The company claims the solar panels can produce two hours of battery life from one hour of sunlight in optimum conditions or a little over a half hour of hand cranking.
Despite our negative experience with Turtle Art, we are still impressed by the One Laptop Per Child project. Hopefully the company will soon show off the Android-based variant, along with another model that utilizes a sunlight-readable Pixel Qi display.