by Michael A. Prospero on November 27, 2007
Nicholas Negroponte and the One Laptop Per Child's (OLPC) "$100 laptop," also know as the XO laptop, grabbed a lot of headlines this year, not just because of Negroponte's highly altruistic ideas about giving computers to children in developing nations, but also because the $188 Linux-based PC is a well-designed, durable laptop. Designed for children of developing nations, OLPC made the XO available for U.S. and Canadian consumers for the first time during the Give 1, Get 1 program, which started on November 12 and has been extended to December 31, 2007.
In contrast, Asus's entry into the ultraportable market with its innovative and easy-to-use (and Linux-based) Eee PC 701, will continue to be available to consumers. Aimed at kids and older people who may not have had a lot of experience with computers, the design of this ultra-light $399 notebook is ingenious enough that it will appeal to a much broader market. As Asus says, the three "e's" in the machine's name stand for "Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play," and it largely achieves those three goals. An early indication of its popularity: Less than a month after its release, hackers are already tinkering with it.
While it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison (the XO and the Eee PC are intended for two different markets, after all), there's enough similarities between the two to merit a head-to-head comparison. Here's how these two cheap but innovative portables stack up in seven categories.