Asus's Eee PC doesn't have a ton of innovation in it, but it is cheap enough to have lured an unspecified government into buying a million of the little buggers. Meanwhile, Slate reported a little over a month ago that the OLPC only plans on making 120k units this year. Why is the OLPC having such a problem getting off the ground with its cool mesh network, design, Sugar OS, hand crank charger, tough, shock and water resistant design and low power requirements? Maybe its because the eee runs Windows, and Third World countries can probably find a lot of pirated software out there. I'm just guessing, but thats pretty much all I can think of. Then again, check out this review of the OLPC by an 8 year old, the youngest Laptop Mag editor ever. Apparently kids hate it for everything but porn. [PC World on the EEE, Slate on OLPC , Pogue on the OLPC]
Actually, I just looked at the specs for the eeePC at the Asus website and I have to say I'm thinking it's kind of a trade off with either the XO (the official name for the OLPC laptop) or the eeePC. The eeePC sure looks like a more competent lappie, generally speaking, but the XO has some things that make it pretty damn unique to UMPCs in general. While a swivel screen isn't unique to UMPCs, the eeePC doesn't have one. Meanwhile, the battery life on the eeePC is 3.5 hours while the XO (according to laptop.org) clocks in at over 15—I'm assuming that's without the screen's backlight on. For that, alone, the XO is on my wishlist—I'm a writer I could use a box I don't have to charge up every few hours.
The mesh network (I thought) was less about connecting to the 'net and more about kids connecting to each other and learning how to work together. So, absent a wifi cloud, they could still hook up with each other.
Also, I'm curious if the eeePC's display is easily visible in the sunlight. OH yeah and the other thing I like better about the XO is that as of November 12 at [XOgiving.org] you can buy an XO for yourself for $400—only that price also buys one for a 3rd world kid. I don't think Asus is doing something like that are they? If so, that's great. We need more folks competing to be helpful to kids in 3rd world countries, I think.
Sure, the eeePC is a better machine by our standards, but I think it's got some features that make it equally (but differently) appealing. I wouldn't count NickNeg out just yet. Though, even if he does fail at this point, he's inspired a lot of forward motion and like Oldmanstan, above, said, this is a problem that just needs to be solved.
Personally, I wish I could buy one of each, but I think I'll be picking up an XO if I can gather up $400 by November. Anybody hiring? :)