Low-Cost Laptops Get Mixed Feedback

April 09, 2008 03:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Designed for impoverished countries, low-cost laptops are being marketed to American consumers. But reviewers question whether they are durable or useful enough for kids anywhere.

30-Second Summary

The market for ultra-low cost laptops has been heating up, despite criticism regarding their utility for children in the United States and abroad.

Computer makers have long viewed production of a PC priced at $100 as the “Holy Grail” that would put technology into the hands of children in developing countries, reports ZDNet.

But that goal has proved elusive, and manufacturers are turning to Western consumers to supplement their sales in emerging markets.

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation’s popular green-and-white XO and its low-cost competitors, priced at $175 to $250, are still too expensive for developing nations, where typical adult earnings are under $100 a month.

Intel unveiled a new Classmate PC, reconfigured to appeal to Western consumers, with a larger screen and bigger hard drive—and  a higher price of $300 to $500.

But after market-testing the XO, some American users say that the machines aren’t robust enough to be used by children. Other concerns include slow operating and internet speeds.

“We learned that cheap charity computers can't stand up to the probing fingers of the kiddie users they're supposed to serve,” wrote Forbes’ David Ewalt. “And now we find out that when they're not tearing the OLPC apart, kids are just bored with it.”

Analyst Annette Jump says the marketplace may be telling manufacturers that along with low pricing, Third World children require the very same things that American consumers want: “actual devices that are workable … for education and access to the Internet.”

Headline Links: Low-cost PCs in emerging and Western markets

Related Topics: Comparing low-cost PCs and free Linux open-source software

Opinion & Analysis: ‘One Laptop Per Dissatisfied Child’

Background: ‘Intel’s Laptop Flap’

Reference: One Laptop Per Child


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