Friday, January 04, 2008
XO laptop mini-review
My first hours with the XO laptop
Back when the One Laptop Per Child Foundation was running their "give one, get one" promotion, I signed up to donate a laptop, and get one for myself. I figured I could do some good, and get a chance to see what it's all about.
It's small - really small. Seems more deserving of the "notebook" designation, rather than calling it a "laptop". It'd probably fit well on a child's lap, though.
The exterior case feels very solidly constructed, and has a built-in handle. It reminds of my original iBook. It does look a little like a toy, but that impression goes away pretty rapidly once you start using it.
The keyboard is a rubber dome "chiclet" keyboard of the sort you might have found on inexpensive home computers in the 1980's in the USA. It's not too hard to type on, with the exception of the "space bar", which seems to be made up of 10 or so individual switches, and my thumb keeps hitting it between the individual switches.
The screen is very clear and readable. I haven't used it in black & white mode very much yet, but it's readable in a (fairly bright) room with the backlight off. Not bad at all.
The user interface is a little weird, if you're used to a standard PC operating system interface. I think someone who's coming to it with no preconceptions would find it fairly easy to get started.
It's running Ubuntu Linux, but you'd never know it from looking at the UI. Everything uses just one mouse button - none of the right-click, middle-click crap from KDE.
The "window manager" doesn't so much manage windows as screens - most of the applications run in full-screen mode, to make better use of the low resolution screen.
I'll report back with an update after I've tried out the other included applications.