First OLPC computers leave factory

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First OLPC computers leave factory

Hardware specifications get "very close" to final build.

The One Laptop Per Child project has manufactured a first set of 200 notebook computers. The devices will be distributed as test units to government officials and software developers.

The units are "very close to the final hardware builds of the machine", Christopher Blizzard wrote on his blog. Blizzard is a software developer with Red Hat who is developing the OLPC's Linux operating system.

Software developers can use the software to test their applications for potential compatibility issues.

The OLPC project is an education project that aims to provides children in developing nations with access to information and allows them to develop programming skills. The efforts are centered around a low cost notebook computer that is designed to function in dusty environments with an irregular power supply.

The project sells its notebooks directly to governments in 1m increments. It won't take any orders until the development of the laptops is finalised, but Nigaria, Libya and Brazil are among the nations that have expressed a strong interest in purchasing the devices.

The notebooks are powered by an AMD processor feature a dual mode screen that operates both indoors as well as in direct sunlight and can be recharged by a foot pedal.

The computers are commonly referred to as the US$100 Laptop, in a reference to a US$100 price tag that the project targeted when it first started working on the design. The first units however are likely sell for about US$135 to US$140.

Intel launched a competing US$400 Eduwise laptop earlier this year. Intel and Microsoft have criticised the OLPC project.

Intel chairman Craig Barrett dismissed the project as a "US$100 gadget", and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates criticised the small screen.

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