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Children’s Machine arrives on the scene

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) recently announced that its device designed for use by children in developing countries is now claled the Children’s Machine 1 or CM1 (an homage to project adviser Seymour Papert) and will begin field trials in September. According to Ars Technica, the device now has 512 MB of integrated flash memory — more than 11 times the storage I needed to store all of my Mac applications and documents throughout college — and can be further expanded through USB slots and an SD card slot. The open-source word processor Abi Word has been modified to use the product’s “Sugar” user interface based on Fedora Core Linux.

Other impressive specs include a camera for taking stills and videoconferencing, a microphone and speaker — perhaps for VoIP — and an 8″ screen with an incredibly high resolution of 1200 x 900 pixels.

I wrote last year that such a device would likely to be of interest to American school districts although doing so might raise the ire of OLPC partner AMD. With a different industrial design, it would also be a godsend on cramped airline trays for business travellers (and more practical than the far more expensive UMPC. It will be interesting to see whether the folks at AlphaSmartc an integrate some of the best technology from the CM1. Its $249 Neo costs almost 80 percent more than the CM1 wth a fraction of the capabilities.