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Old 12-23-2007, 11:27 PM   #1
Paul Moews
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OLPC - one laptop per child - compared to Iliad

I just received a OLPC (one laptop per child) machine and have been trying out the Book reader feature. There is a bit about the OLPC on a NYT video mentioned in this forum:

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) hands-on video

The display is interesting – small, 4.5 inches by 6 inches, but of a resolution higher than that of the Iliad, 900 x 1200 pixels or 200 pixels per inch. It runs in a backlit color mode and in a black and white reflective mode, the reflective mode is claimed to use only 0.2 watts. The reflective mode, like the Iliad, needs ambient light, and works well in bright sunshine.

The OLPC has a simple, easy to learn interface, and comes with a Browser, a Book reader (PDFs only at the moment) an interactive Python interpreter and much else.


As the display is similar to that of the Iliad I thought I would compare the two machines – I downloaded a book in Iliad format (from http://manybooks.net/) directly to the OLPC using its Browser and saved another copy to a MMC card for use on the Iliad.

The OLPC is a sturdy, heavy (about 3.5 lbs) little machine that folds into a 9 x 9 x 1.25 inch chunk with a 4.5 x 6 inch window. Game control buttons are used to rotate the view and turn pages. The display refreshes quickly so that scrolling is possible, an advantage over the Iliad. In bright sunlight the two displays are very comparable. One has to hold the OLPC at the right angle to the Suns rays as the reflective surface can act as a mirror. Picture 1 – see attachments- was taken in bright sunlight. It shows the Iliad and OLPC side by side with the OLPC in reflective mode. The same page ( taken from “Heart of Darkness” by Conrad) is shown on both machines.

Picture 2 –see attachments – is a higher resolution picture of the OLPC running in transmissive mode and again viewed in full sunlight. I find the display very impressive..The Book reader is well done and has the advantages over the Iliad that one would expect from a display that refreshes more quickly.

You can still get a OLPC for a few more days (until Dec. 31st)

See http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php

It’s a nice little machine, well done, and should intrigue most children. A book reader using the same display would be readable in bright light and in the dark.

p. moews
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Old 12-24-2007, 04:30 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Paul Moews View Post
You can still get a OLPC for a few more days (until Dec. 31st)
Unfortunately I can't, and nor can the overwhelming majority of other people either. One can only buy one if one lives in North America . That rules out approximately 94% of the planetary population from buying one.
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Old 12-24-2007, 04:51 AM   #3
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Thanks Paul!

I was wandering just how good the display would be. Now I'm convinced: I'm getting one.

PS: Harry, I think we actually can order them in Europe.

This is from their FAQ:

Quote:
If I live outside of the US or Canada, may I participate in Give One Get One?

Yes, but only if you provide a shipping address within the US or Canada. To participate, please call 1-949-608-2865. International calling charges will apply.
(we can use a forwarding service)

Enjoy your new laptop.

Merry x-mas to you all!!
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:11 AM   #4
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Hello Paul,

Is the screen exactly the same size than the iLiad ? I'd like to add a template for the OLPC on Feedbooks, at least on the Custom PDF page.

Could you try our files on the device (unlike those from Manybooks, they're justified, not lacking hyphenation, with chapter headers and a TOC) ? I'd love to have a picture.

URL: http://www.feedbooks.com/discover
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:47 AM   #5
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I'm surprised, the OLPC screen actually looks clearer than the Iliad. Also I didn't know the monochrome mode was reflective. Hmmm .... Too bad they're going off sale so soon. I wonder if they'll be back later?
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Old 12-24-2007, 06:25 PM   #6
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response to Hadrien

The two displays have the same aspect ratio and are very similar in size. Hence any PDF file designed for the Iliad works well on the OLPC. The Iliad has 768x1024 pixels at 160 pixels/inch and is about 4.8 x 6.4 inches in size while the OLPC has 900x1200 pixels at 200 pixels/inch and is 4.5x6 inches.

I downloaded “Heart of Darkness” from feedbooks (Iliad version)

http://www.feedbooks.com/discover

and took another comparison picture – again in bright sunshine but this time with the readers shaded from the direct sun to avoid reflections. Also one would never read in direct sunshine as both the readers and reader would soon be overheated. See Picture3.

A few more words about the way the OLPC book reader works might make the situation clearer. When folded as a book reader the OLPC keys and mouse are not available. The only controls are buttons at the side of the display. One side of the display has a rocker button and a single push button. The push button rotates the display to four possible positions that is 2 landscape and 2 portrait. The rocker button scrolls the display up or down. The photograph shows the display in portrait mode, rotation to landscape would show a partial page expanded to fill the width.

Four push buttons are contained in a small depression on the other side of the display. One turns to the first page in the book and the opposite button turns to the last page. The two other buttons page by an appropriate amount, up or down, either a full page or a partial page depending on whether the display is in landscape or portrait mode.

When rotated back to a laptop the additional menus at the top of the display become available by means of the mouse (touchpad). The newly available menus are Activity, Edit, and View. (see Picture3).

Clicking on View displays 4 icons, zoom out, zoom in ,and an icon with a subsidary menu of 3 items, Zoom to width, Zoom to fit and Actual Size. The fourth icon adjusts the size of the display by percentages from 1% on up to ? (the response slows at very high percentages). This icon allows up and down percentage changes. One can make changes in the View mode then click on Read and refold into a book reader. The changes will persist in the book reader.

The Activity menu allows one to share the book with others in the “Neighborhood” and the Edit menu opens a small window to type in, for what purpose I don’t yet know.

Please don’t take these observations as “truth”. I’m easily confused and I’m not sure that everything is as consistent or logical as I’ve described. For example high lighting menu items can turn the buttons off and I’m not sure what the actual defaults are if the View menu is never used. There may be ways unknown to me to add additional functions to the buttons in Book reader mode. The OLPC comes with no documentation, just a reference to the web site.

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Old 12-24-2007, 08:24 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting this comparative info. If you don't mind, I have a couple more questions. How long do the batteries last when you're reading in reflective mode? And does the unit heat up much in operation? (Does it use a fan?)
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Old 12-24-2007, 08:41 PM   #8
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Thanks for posting this comparative info. If you don't mind, I have a couple more questions. How long do the batteries last when you're reading in reflective mode? And does the unit heat up much in operation? (Does it use a fan?)
According to the specs, it can last 24H in reflective mode. Now we need a number for real life use...
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Old 12-25-2007, 03:15 PM   #9
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I've had problems reading some (large) PDFs from an SD card on OLPC (iliad handles them fine). It's probably a fixable software problem.
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Old 12-27-2007, 03:38 AM   #10
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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the machine is called the "XO-1" is it not? "OLPC" is the name of the project, not the name of the machine.
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Old 12-27-2007, 04:32 AM   #11
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right harry....the machine is the XO (din't know about the -1) and OLPC is the organization.

BTW, have you browsed eBay for the OLPC XO's? Seems a good number of the buy-one-get-one deal are ending up there and pretty much selling for around the price paid for the two of them. I am wondering why the OLPC folks themselves do not run auctions and/or fixed price listings? Mayeb they simply cannot keep up with the amazing demand and do not have any inventory to use in that fashion.

I do a lot of moderately expensive charity auctions for an local animal shelter. We get more for the same items we have on their website...if people knew the deal was one to the buyer and one to the program, many good people would jump on them. I bet especially so if they had good enough reader ability.

And if setup as a charity with Mission Fish they could also generate income to help fund the program when sellers contribute a portion of their sale to the charity.
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Old 12-28-2007, 10:09 AM   #12
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Like the iLiad, the XO should be able to run FBReader. I think the XO is running Fedora under the hood, so all you might need to do (from a command window) is
Code:
su -c 'yum update fbreader'
This is from FBReader's Desktop Download Page.

For info on yum in the XO see Xo setup user guide. If you use su to login as root directly (as described here), then just use the command
Code:
yum update fbreader

Last edited by wallcraft; 12-28-2007 at 10:15 AM.
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