OLPC unveils the Marvell-powered XO 3.0 Tablet at CES

January 9, 2012 | 13:28

Tags: #android #hardware #marvell-armada #nicholas-negroponte #tablet

Companies: #marvell #olpc #one-laptop-per-child #pixel-qi

The OLPC - One Laptop Per Child - project, founded by philanthropist Nicholas Negroponte in an attempt to bring computing to developing nations using affordable and sustainable hardware, has officially unveiled its XO 3.0 Tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Developed in partnership with chipmaker and ARM licensee Marvell, the OLPC XO 3.0 isn't quite the ultra-slim semi-transparent slice of loveliness the concept designs had led us to expect. Instead, the XO 3.0 is a more chunky design based around an 8in 1024x768 touch-sensitive display.

Internally, the XO 3.0 packs a Marvell Armada PXA618 processor, which will be clocked somewhere between 800MHz and 1GHz depending on each clients' individual needs. This gives the device an overall power draw of around two watts.

The display will also be customisable, with the company's clients - typically national governments keen to purchase large volumes of discount hardware for distribution to schools - being able to choose between a cheap liquid-crystal display or a more expensive Pixel Qi option with full sunlight readability.

As with the XO laptops that preceded it, the XO 3.0 Tablet is designed for use in developing nations where a reliable power source isn't always a given. As a result, two power sources will be made available at launch: a hand crank which runs on a 10:1 ratio, and a case with in-built solar panel which operates on a 2:1 ratio in bright sunlight.

'We're proud to introduce the XO 3.0 tablet, showcasing the design, durability and performance features that make it a natural successor for our current laptops, which have been distributed to more than 2.4 million children in 42 countries and in 25 languages,' crowed Edward McNierney, OLPC's chief technology officer, at the CES unveiling. 'The XO 3.0 builds on many of the technology breakthroughs we made with the XO 1.75, including the use of the Marvell Armada PXA618 processor, resulting in a significant decrease in power consumption — a critical issue for students in the developing world.'

The XO 3.0 is also set to include 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks — with the ability to interface with external sensors as well as microphones — along with a mini-USB port, a full-size USB port with USB On-The-Go (OTG) functionality, and support for either a custom Linux distribution with the Sugar UI layer on top, or Google's Android mobile platform.

The company has confirmed that the XO 3.0 will cost around $100 (around £65), but availability has yet to be discussed. As with the previous OLPC laptops, it's unlikely to be available for general sale. Instead, the group will likely offer it under a 'get-one-give-one' programme, where a buyer gets one to keep and funds one to be given away to a child in a developing nation.

Do the tablet's specifications disappoint, or are you pleased to see the Pixel Qi technology making its way to hand-held devices? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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