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How much was that $100 laptop again?

How much was that $100 laptop again?

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman

We've looked at the OLPC project before--the One Laptop Per Child Foundation wants to give schoolkids around the world access to inexpensive laptops, and has long touted its prototype "$100 laptop," an open-source-based, low-power system built for the rigors of third-world life. We've also seen other companies interested in this space, most notably Intel's Classmate PC, a similar low-cost laptop we got a hands-on preview of recently.

A laptop that costs $100 is still a ways off, and the OLPC XO-1 device was up to around $176 as of earlier this year (although in contrast, the Intel Classmate starts at $225, or $350 for a version with Windows XP and Microsoft Office). This weekend, the price of the OLPC went up again, this time to $188, getting even closer to doubling the original proposed price tag.

Of course, the OLPC systems aren't even going into mass production until October, so we could see more adjustments before then. It's also worth noting that while junky $499 laptops are not uncommon at big-box retail stores, to spend less than $200 on a system specially designed for students in developing countries, complete with software, Wi-Fi antennas, and semi-rugged casings, is still an impressive feat. While the original $100 price tag may have been a little bit of wishful thinking, we expect the OLPC project to continue to be one of the more interesting tech projects out there.