3 Low cost computers that aim to bring technology to all.

In the age of high end technology and expensive gadgets, there are individuals out there who are trying to build the optimal low cost computer in order to bridge the digital divide. Such low cost computers can easily be deployed in educational institutions and low income areas, in order to make technology accessible to all.

1. The OLPC[One Laptop Per Child] Project/XO-1.5 Laptop

One Laptop Per Child

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a project supported by the Miami-based One Laptop per Child Association(OLPCA) and the Cambridge-based OLPC Foundation(OLPCF), two U.S. non-profit organizations set up to oversee the creation of affordable educational devices for use in the developing world. The brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte who is the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, this was the pioneer of low cost computing devices. 

Specifications for the XO-1.5:

  • 1 GHz Via C7-M ultra-low voltage processor
  • 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 4 GB NAND Flash memory (internal microSD drive, expandable)
  • Rotatable 7.5” Dual-Mode (sunlight-readable) TFT display
  • Integrated color vision camera
  • Wireless networking
  • Runs on Linux. The UI has been specially customized to be user-friendly for young children. Also, a host of educational applications come pre-installed on the XO-1.5.

Availibility and pricing: Initially the developers aimed to design a sub $100 laptop, but the final model works out to cost around $200. The device is however not commercially available and can only be ordered in bulk. 

Check out their website for more details: http://one.laptop.org/

2. The Aakash Tablet/Ubislate

Ubislate

India’s own low cost computer ,the Aakash is an Android tablet computer jointly developed by the London-based company DataWind with the Indian Institute of Technology Rajasthan and manufactured by the India-based company Quad. The tablet is touch based, however a keyboard accessory will be made available shortly. Aakash is the name of the tablet that will be provided to the students at a subsidized rate by the Government of India, while Ubislate is the name of the commercial variant.

Specifications:

  • Android OS 2.3
  • Cortex A8, 700 Mhz Processor with HD Video Co-Processor
  • 256MB RAM
  • 2GB Internal Memory, Expansion upto 32GB supported via microSD
  • 2 Standard USB Ports
  • Connectivity with GPRS & WiFi
  • 7 inch, 800x480 pixel resistive touchscreen

Availability and pricing: The Government of India plans to make the Aakash available at an subsidized rate to all Indian students. For those who wish to pick up their own low-cost tablet, the commercial variant Ubislate is open for booking at a price of INR 3000 or around $60 on their website.

Check out their website for more details: http://www.ubislate.com/

3. The Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is a low-cost computing device developed by the Raspberry Pi foundation which is an UK registered charity. Their website describes it as follows:

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.

Specifications:

  • 700MHz Broadcom BCM2835 media processor
  • 128MB of SDRAM
  • HDMI or composite video output
  • One USB 2.0 port
  • SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
  • 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Support for Debian, Fedora and ArchLinux out of the box.

Availability and pricing: The device will be available in early 2012, as soon as the developers are done with their prototype testing. If you can’t wait that long, the developers intend to auction off the fully tested prototype boards, even before the device is manufactured commercially. The Raspberry Pi will be priced at 25$

Check out their website for more details: http://www.raspberrypi.org/

Know of any other low cost computing devices? Let us know in the comments!