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Quick Hits: The $100 Laptop?

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines

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Former MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte is helping to bring laptops to children in underdeveloped nations - and getting flack for it.

His initiative, called One Laptop per Child (OLPC), aims to outfit children in developing countries with $100 laptops. Its current model, the XO, is still somewhat over budget at $188. The computer is designed to work in remote and harsh environments and can be manually charged by a hand crank.

By 2010, the non-profit plans to unveil the XO 2.0. This updated version is slated to cost $75, and will run on one watt of power instead of the four watts required by the original.

The laptops are designed to be purchased in packages of one million, but some foreign leaders find the program insensitive. According to the BBC, Nigerian education minister Dr. Igwe Aja-Nwachuku was incredulous in asking, "What is the sense of introducing One Laptop per Child when they don't have seats to sit down and learn; when they don't have uniforms to go to school in, where they don't have facilities?" Still, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico, Ethiopia, Haiti, Rwanda and Mongolia have all shown interest in the computers. Rival Intel's (INTC) Classmate PC is currently being tested in Nigeria.

OLPC recently teamed with Microsoft (MSFT) to make the Windows operating system availavble for XO. Equipped with Windows XP, the computer will cost $198.

The program has merit, but countries with limited resources may be better off waiting for the $75 model - and using the funds they conserve on books and desks in schools.

For more on philanthropy, check out Hoofy & Boo's always astute report.

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