I'm not talking about the XO-3, which officially joined the Zero Laptop Per Child program last year, but the Android-based tablet that OLPC showed off at CES 2013 and planned to ship in June. Clearly that ship date slipped a little, but OLPC announced earlier today that the tablet will be shipping later this month.
The news comes via an official blog post on the OLPC blog. After responding to some rumors circulated about recent staff departures, the blog post says:
In addition, the XO Tablet will be launched on July 16 exclusively at Walmart and soon afterwards at many of the top retailers in the USA, Europe, and in North and South America.
It goes on to fill in more space with the usual press release ipsum (with a dash of academic verbiage), so I won't repeat it here.
OLPC had always planned to sell the tablet via Walmart, so that's not new. And I am also not that surprised by the fact the ship date slipped by a month; this can happen with new products.
Details are still sketchy on the XO Tablet, but the units displayed at CES 2013 had a 7" screen and ran Android 4.0 on 1.6GHz dual core CPU with 1GB of RAM, 8GB Flash storage, front and rear cameras, and HDMI out.
A lot of the educational software was developed by OLPC and their partners, but the hardware was developed in partnership with Vivitar and some unknown tablet maker. The OLPC reps indicated at CES 2013 that the XO Tablet would cost $150.
If that is the retail then I would hope that it has better specs than the ones mentioned above. Given the recent price changes to the Kindle Fire HD and the general Android tablet market, $150 can get you more tablet that it used to. There's the Hisense Sero Pro, which has a Tegra 3 CPU and a price tag of $150, or there's the Nabi 2, a kid's tablet with a Tegra 3 CPU and a price tag of $190 on Amazon. And of course the Kindle Fire HD can be had for $169.
That is just a few of the Android tablet available for under $200 and it doesn't include all of the educational or kid's tablets. That market is rather crowded, leading me to wonder why exactly OLPC felt the need to launch an educational tablet.
After all, OLPC is a non-for-profit. Since their software runs on Android why not just release the software for free? Surely that would meet OLPC's goal of improving educational opportunities, and I think it would be the better option.