OLPC’s XO-3 Tablet Lands at CES

As expected, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, with partner Marvell, unveiled the XO-3 tablet for CES 2012. The 8-inch tablet features a 1024x768 PixelQi display; 512MB of memory; the Marvell Armada PXA618 SoC; a memory card slot; and USB and audio ports. The operating system will be either be Android or OLPC’s homegrown Linux-based Sugar, depending on the configuration.

The OLPC project has the noble goal of putting computer technology in the hands of children across the globe through low-cost, rugged machines with delightful yet powerful software. The XO-3 is the next generation of the group’s computers, which began with the XO-1 laptop.


The final version of the XO-3 isn’t as svelte and eye-popping as the concept design (which was spectacular), but it certainly makes more sense. We wondered aloud back in October about the wisdom of giving an unprotected tablet to children, who tend to be rough on anything and everything they own no matter what continent they live on or how much money they have. Scratch-resistant or not, a tablet screen seems like a poor alternative to the clamshell protection afforded by a laptop.

OLPC apparently figured this out too, and so the XO-3 features a rubber cover. The cover can be powered by the solar panels on the inside of the rubber cover, and the tablet can also be powered by plugging it in to a power source or with a hand crank-powered battery.

Original OLPC XO-3 concept design; slightly different from the real thing

The XO-3 was supposed to cost $100 or less, and OLPC has managed to hit that mark; however, the $100 option includes a plain old LCD screen instead of the PixelQi display.

Average consumers can’t get their hands on an XO-3; OLPC is only taking bulk orders from countries (and presumably charitable organization, non-profits, and NGOs working in various regions), and manufacturing won’t occur until an order is placed.

Somewhat buried in the news of the XO-3 is that the XO-1.75. OLPC’s last laptop in its line, the XO-1.75 will be similar to the XO-1.5 but with a touch display and will ship in March. Countries like Uruguay and Nicaragua have already placed their orders.

OLPC has certainly missed deadlines and fallen short of some promised benchmarks over the years, but the project has also wrought great things for children worldwide. We hope for even greater success for OLPC in the future.