Monday, March 24, 2008

XO Laptop

My XO laptop arrived in the mail recently and it is quite an amazing little machine. Conclusion up front: I'm extremely satisfied with it and in some ways this laptop computer is better than ones that sell for ten times the price.

You might recall from a previous post that I had downloaded the XO's operating system and taken it for a test drive in an emulator. Now I have the real thing in front of me, and it's safe to say that it is even better. After all, some of the most innovative features of this computer are in the hardware. My favorite feature is the screen. It is viewable in direct sunlight which makes it usable outdoors. Second up would be the wireless networking. The graphical network selector is fun to use and the connection tends to be more reliable than any of the other computers I've used with my home wireless router. The battery life is also impressive, easily five hours on a charge of its small battery. It even has a built-in camera and microphone.

It runs all of the software I need too. I used the instructions I wrote up when I installed firefox on the emulated operating system. Everything went smoothly and I was browsing the web using firefox in a few minutes (The XO laptop comes with a perfectly good web browser, but I wanted to use my favorite plugins and have more control over downloads).

I'm quite taken with the little machine. I've been using it as my primary computer at home, using it for all of the tasks I normally do (mostly browsing the web and programming). There are a couple of things that I would change if I had the chance. The first is the keyboard. It is an interesting design, made of a flexible rubber-like substance, and it works much better than other flexible keyboard that I've tried, but it took a while to get used to the shift key (I have to press in the corner of the key). The other difficulty is presented by the slower processor, but it doesn't get in my way most of the time. The only time I notice any slowness is when playing flash videos (like on YouTube). Perhaps part of the problem is flash for Linux, but I'm not sure. In any case, I don't really mind as I don't watch that much video, and if I want to, I have other computers that I can use.

It will probably come as no surprise that I wrote this post using the little green computer. I'm saddened by the end of the "give one get one" program, as I think there is still the opportunity for more people to donate and receive their own XO. If anyone is interested, it might be possible to order a batch of one hundred or more through the "give many" program.
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