Laptops

3.4002808988792 (1424)
Posted by kaori 03/10/2009 @ 00:13

Tags : laptops, mobile computing, technology

News headlines
HP Recalls 70000 Fire-Hazardous Batteries - InformationWeek
The faulty lithium-ion batteries are used in laptops sold under a variety of brands, including HP Pavilion, Compaq Presario, HP, and HP Compaq. By Antone Gonsalves Hewlett-Packard has recalled 70000 laptop batteries that pose a fire and burn hazard to...
Would Bill Gates have aired Laptop Hunters? - CNNMoney.com
Lately he's been trying to make sense of Microsoft's (MSFT) Laptop Hunters TV ads — the ones where ordinary Americans are given a budget and a wad of cash and set loose in a computer store to buy a PC. Microsoft aired the fifth spot in the series last...
Microsoft unveils a new Lauren the Laptop Hunter - CNET News
by Chris Matyszczyk Through its Laptop Hunter campaign, Microsoft has proved there are so many people in Los Angeles looking for a laptop that I am surprised Apple has not responded with an exclusively LA version of its own ads....
One In Five Laptops Shipped In Q1 Was A Netbook - InformationWeek
Manufacturers shipped nearly 6 million of the mini-laptops, with Acer leading the market with a 30.5% share. By Antone Gonsalves Global shipments of netbooks accounted for nearly a fifth of all the laptops shipped in the first quarter,...
Toshiba Launches World's First Laptop with a 512GB Solid State Drive - Business Wire (press release)
(BUSINESS WIRE)--Toshiba's Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today announced the world's first laptop 1 configured with a eSATA second generation 512GB 2 Solid State Drive (SSD) with the Portégé®...
Used Cell Phones and Laptops Can Be Recycled Too - WNCT
By Rachel Gallaher As people rely more on technology, they increase the amount of waste created by old laptops and cell phones. Instead of throwing out old computers, recycle and make it green. That could help save energy and stop clogging landfills....
Waco church helping bring laptops to children in Kenya - Waco Tribune Herald
But this month, in addition to a regularly scheduled trip to the East African nation, UBC officials learned they have another mission: They will deliver 100 computers from the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child, thanks to an award the...
One held for stealing laptops - Indian Express
The RCF police recently arrested a 42-year-old man for allegedly stealing laptops. The accused, Mohammed Rafiq Gafur, used to steal laptops and then give it for repairing to avoid any suspicion. He would look for potential buyers at the repair shop...
KATU sheds light on new laptop sales scam - KATU
"I saw an advertisement on Google that said, 'Become a certified laptop distribution agent.' " The company, Mobile-Workforce 101, provides this sales pitch: You pay a couple hundred dollars for training in order to get certified as a salesman....
HP HDX 16-1140us 16-inch Thin and Light Laptop PC - About - News & Issues
May 16 2009 - HP's HDX 16 laptop had a lot of unique features when it was first released. The 16-inch screen was larger with a 16:9 aspect ratio, there were a lot of peripheral connections and it was very well priced. The latest HDX 16-1140us model...

History of laptops

An opened Osborne 1 computer, ready for use. The keyboard sits on the inside of the lid.

Before laptop/notebook computers were technically feasible, similar ideas had been proposed, most notably Alan Kay's Dynabook concept, developed at Xerox PARC in the early 1970s.

The first commercially available portable computer was the Osborne 1 in 1981, which used the CP/M operating system. Although it was large and heavy compared to today's laptops, with a tiny 5" CRT monitor, it had a near-revolutionary impact on business, as professionals were able to take their computer and data with them for the first time. This and other "luggables" were inspired by what was probably the first portable computer, the Xerox NoteTaker, again developed at Xerox PARC, in 1976; however, only ten prototypes were built. The Osborne was about the size of a portable sewing machine, and more importantly, could be carried on commercial aircraft. However, it was not possible to run the Osborne on batteries: it had to be plugged into mains.

In 1982 Kaypro introduced the Kaypro II, a CP/M-based competitor to the Osborne 1. The Kaypro II featured a display nearly twice as big as the Osborne's, at 9", and double-density floppy drives with twice the storage capacity. Following in the standard set by the Osborne 1, the Kaypro II also included a software bundle when purchased new.

Although it wasn't released until 1985, well after the decline of CP/M as a major operating system, the Bondwell 2 is one of only a handful of CP/M laptops. It used a Z-80 CPU running at 4 MHz, had 64 K RAM and, unusual for a CP/M machine, a 3.5" floppy disk drive built in. It had a 80×25 character-based LCD mounted on a hinge similar to modern laptops, one of the first computers to use this form factor. The other CP/M laptops were the Epson PX-4 (or HX-40) and PX-8 (Geneva), The NEC PC-8401A, and the NEC PC-8500. These four units, however, utilized modified CP/M systems in ROM, and did not come standard with any floppy or hard disks.

A more enduring success was the Compaq Portable, the first product from Compaq, introduced in 1983, by which time the IBM Personal Computer had become the standard platform. Although scarcely more portable than the Osborne machines, and also requiring AC power to run, it ran MS-DOS and was the first true legal IBM clone (IBM's own later Portable Computer, which arrived in 1984, was notably less IBM PC-compatible than the Compaq).

Another significant machine announced in 1981, although first sold widely in 1983, was the Epson HX-20. A simple handheld computer, it featured a full-transit 68-key keyboard, rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, a small (120×32-pixel) dot-matrix LCD display with 4 lines of text, 20 characters per line text mode, a 24 column dot matrix printer, a Microsoft BASIC interpreter, and 16 KB of RAM (expandable to 32 KB).

However, arguably the first true laptop was the GRiD Compass 1101, designed by Bill Moggridge in 1979-1980, and released in 1982. Enclosed in a magnesium case, it introduced the now familiar clamshell design, in which the flat display folded shut against the keyboard. The computer could be run from batteries, and was equipped with a 320×200-pixel electroluminescent display and 384 kilobyte bubble memory. It was not IBM-compatible, and its high price (US$8,000–10,000) limited it to specialized applications. However, it was used heavily by the U.S. military, and by NASA on the Space Shuttle during the 1980s. The GRiD's manufacturer subsequently earned significant returns on its patent rights as its innovations became commonplace. GRiD Systems Corp. was later bought by the Tandy (now RadioShack) Corporation.

The Ampere, a sleek clamshell design by Ryu Oosake, also debuted in 1983. It offered a MC68008 microprocessor dedicated to running an APL interpreter residing in ROM.

Two other noteworthy early laptops were the Sharp PC-5000 and the Gavilan SC, announced in 1983 but first sold in 1984. The Gavilan was notably the first computer to be marketed as a "laptop". It was also equipped with a pioneering touchpad-like pointing device, installed on a panel above the keyboard. Like the GRiD Compass, the Gavilan and the Sharp were housed in clamshell cases, but they were partly IBM-compatible, although primarily running their own system software. Both had LCD displays, and could connect to optional external printers. The Dulmont Magnum, launched internationally in 1984, was an Australian portable similar in layout to the Gavilan, which used the Intel 80186 processor.

The year 1983 also saw the launch of what was probably the biggest-selling early laptop, the Kyocera Kyotronic 85. Owing much to the design of the previous Epson HX-20, and although at first a slow seller in Japan, it was quickly licensed by Tandy Corporation, Olivetti, and NEC, who recognised its potential and marketed it respectively as the TRS-80 Model 100 line (or Tandy 100), Olivetti M-10, and NEC PC-8201. The machines ran on standard AA batteries. The Tandy's built-in programs, including a BASIC interpreter, a text editor, and a terminal program, were supplied by Microsoft, and are thought to have been written in part by Bill Gates himself. The computer was not a clamshell, but provided a tiltable 8 line × 40-character LCD screen above a full-travel keyboard. With its internal modem, it was a highly portable communications terminal. Due to its portability, good battery life (and ease of replacement), reliability (it had no moving parts), and low price (as little as US$300), the model was highly regarded, becoming a favorite among journalists. It weighed less than 2 kg with dimensions of 30×21.5×4.5 centimeters (12×8½×1¾ in). Initial specifications included 8 kilobytes of RAM (expandable to 24 KB) and a 3 MHz processor. The machine was in fact about the size of a paper notebook, but the term had yet to come into use and it was generally described as a "portable" computer.

Possibly the first commercial IBM-compatible laptop was the Kaypro 2000, introduced in 1985. With its brushed aluminum clamshell case, it was remarkably similar in design to modern laptops. It featured a 25 line by 80 character LCD display, a detachable keyboard, and a pop-up 90 mm (3.5 inch) floppy drive.

Also among the first commercial IBM-compatible laptops were the IBM PC Convertible, introduced in 1986, and two Toshiba models, the T1000 and T1200, introduced in 1987. Although limited floppy-based DOS machines, with the operating system stored in ROM, the Toshiba models were small and light enough to be carried in a backpack, and could be run off lead-acid batteries. These also introduced the now-standard "resume" feature to DOS-based machines: the computer could be paused between sessions, without having to be restarted each time.

The first laptops successful on a large scale came in large part due to a Request For Proposal (RFP) by the U.S. Air Force in 1987. This contract would eventually lead to the purchase of over 200,000 laptops. Competition to supply this contract was fiercely contested and the major PC companies of the time; IBM Corporation, Toshiba, Compaq, NEC, and Zenith Data Systems (ZDS), rushed to develop laptops in an attempt to win this deal. ZDS, which had earlier won a landmark deal with the IRS for its Z-171, was awarded this contract for its SupersPort series. The SupersPort series was originally launched with an Intel 8086 processor, dual floppy disk drives, a backlit, blue and white STN LCD screen, and a NiCd battery pack. Later models featured an Intel 80286 processor and a 20 MB hard disk drive. On the strength of this deal, ZDS became the world's largest laptop supplier in 1987 and 1988. ZDS partnered with Tottori Sanyo in the design and manufacturing of these laptops. This relationship is notable because it was the first deal between a major brand and an Asian original equipment manufacturer.

Another notable computer was the Cambridge Z88, designed by Clive Sinclair, introduced in 1988. About the size of an A4 sheet of paper as well, it ran on standard batteries, and contained basic spreadsheet, word processing, and communications programs. It anticipated the future miniaturization of the portable computer, and as a ROM-based machine with a small display, can — like the TRS-80 Model 100 — also be seen as a forerunner of the personal digital assistant.

By the end of the 1980s, laptop computers were becoming popular among business people. The COMPAQ SLT286 debuted at the end of 1988, being the first battery-powered laptop to sport an internal hard disk drive and a VGA compatible LCD screen. The following year brought a number of light-weight laptops to market. The NEC UltraLite, released in mid-1989, was perhaps the first notebook computer, weighing just over 2 kg; in lieu of a floppy or hard drive, it contained a 2 megabyte RAM drive, but this reduced its utility as well as its size. Additional light-weight notebook computers to include hard drives were those of the Compaq LTE series, introduced toward the end of 1989. Truly the size of a notebook, they also featured grayscale backlit displays with CGA resolution.

The first Apple Computer machine designed to be used on the go was the 1989 Macintosh Portable (although an LCD screen had been an option for the transportable Apple IIc in 1984). Unlike the Compaq LTE laptop released earlier in the year the Macintosh Portable was actually a "luggable" not a laptop, but the Mac Portable was praised for its clear active matrix display and long battery life, but was a poor seller due to its bulk. In the absence of a true Apple laptop, several compatible machines such as the Outbound Laptop were available for Mac users; however, for copyright reasons, the user had to supply a set of Mac ROMs, which usually meant having to buy a new or used Macintosh as well.

The Apple PowerBook series, introduced in October 1991, pioneered changes that are now de facto standards on laptops, such as room for a palm rest, and the inclusion of a pointing device (a trackball). The following year, IBM released its ThinkPad 700C, featuring a similar design (though with a distinctive red TrackPoint pointing device).

Later PowerBooks introduced the first 256-color displays (PowerBook 165c, 1993), and first true touchpad, first 16-bit sound recording, and first built-in Ethernet network adapter (PowerBook 500, 1994).

In 1994, IBM released the RS/6000 N40 laptop based on a PowerPC microprocessor running the AIX operating system, a variant of UNIX. It was manufactured by Tadpole Technology (now Tadpole Computer), who also manufactured laptops based on SPARC and Alpha microprocessors, the SPARCbook and ALPHAbook lines, respectively.

The summer of 1995 was a significant turning point in the history of notebook computing. In August of that year Microsoft introduced Windows 95. It was the first time that Microsoft had placed much of the power management control in the operating system. Prior to this point each brand used custom BIOS, drivers and in some cases, ASICs, to optimize the battery life of its machines. This move by Microsoft was controversial in the eyes of notebook designers because it greatly reduced their ability to innovate; however, it did serve its role in simplifying and stabilizing certain aspects of notebook design. Windows 95 also ushered in the importance of the CD-ROM drive in mobile computing, and initiated the shift to the Intel Pentium processor as the base platform for notebooks. The Gateway Solo was the first notebook introduced with a Pentium processor and a CD-ROM. Also featuring a removable hard disk drive and floppy drive, the Solo was the first three-spindle (optical, floppy, and hard disk drive) notebook computer, and was extremely successful within the consumer segment of the market. In roughly the same time period the Dell Latitude, Toshiba Satellite, and IBM ThinkPad were reaching great success with Pentium-based two-spindle (hard disk and floppy disk drive) systems directed toward the corporate market.

In June 2007 Asus announced the Eee PC 701 to be released in October, a small lightweight Celeron-powered x86 laptop with 4gb SDHC disk and a 7" screen. Despite previous attempts to launch small lightweight computers such as ultra-portable PC, the Eee was the first success story largely due to its low cost and versatility. The term 'Netbook' was later dubbed by Intel. Asus then extended the Eee line with models with features such as a 9" screen and other brands including Acer, MSI and Dell followed suit with similar devices, often built on the fledgling low-power Intel Atom processor architecture.

To the top



Personal computer

An exploded view of a modern personal computer and peripherals:  Scanner CPU (Microprocessor) Primary storage (RAM) Expansion cards (graphics cards, etc) Power supply Optical disc drive Secondary storage (Hard disk) Motherboard Speakers Monitor System software Application software Keyboard Mouse External hard disk Printer

A personal computer (PC) is any general-purpose computer whose original sales price, size, and capabilities make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end user, with no intervening computer operator.

Today a PC may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer or a tablet computer. The most common operating systems are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, while the most common microprocessors are x86-compatible CPUs, ARM architecture CPUs and PowerPC CPUs. Software applications for personal computers include word processing, spreadsheets, databases, games, and myriad of personal productivity and special-purpose software. Modern personal computers often have high-speed or dial-up connections to the Internet, allowing access to the World Wide Web and a wide range of other resources.

A PC may be a home computer, or may be found in an office, often connected to a local area network. The distinguishing characteristics are that the computer is primarily used, interactively, by one person at a time. This is in contrast to the batch processing or time-sharing models which allowed large expensive systems to be used by many people, usually at the same time, or large data processing systems which required a full-time staff to operate efficiently.

While early PC owners usually had to write their own programs to do anything useful with the machines, today's users have access to a wide range of commercial and non-commercial software which is easily installed.

The capabilities of the PC have changed greatly since the introduction of electronic computers. By the early 1970s, people in academic or research institutions had the opportunity for single-person use of a computer system in interactive mode for extended durations, although these systems would still have been too expensive to be owned by a single person. The introduction of the microprocessor, a single chip with all the circuitry that formerly occupied large cabinets, led to the proliferation of personal computers after about 1975. Early personal computers - generally called microcomputers - were sold often in Electronic kit form and in limited volumes, and were of interest mostly to hobbyists and technicians. Minimal programming was done by toggle switches, and output was provided by front panel indicators. Practical use required peripherals such as keyboards, computer terminals, disk drives, and printers. By 1977, mass-market pre-assembled computers allowed a wider range of people to use computers, focusing more on software applications and less on development of the processor hardware.

Throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s, computers were developed for household use, offering personal productivity, programming and games. Somewhat larger and more expensive systems (although still low-cost compared with minicomputers and mainframes) were aimed for office and small business use. Workstations are characterized by high-performance processors and graphics displays, with large local disk storage, networking capability, and running under a multitasking operating system. Workstations are still used for tasks such as computer-aided design, drafting and modelling, computation-intensive scientific and engineering calculations, image processing, architectural modelling, and computer graphics for animation and motion picture visual effects.

Eventually the market segments lost any technical distinction; business computers acquired color graphics capability and sound, and home computers and game systems users used the same processors and operating systems as office workers. Mass-market computers had graphics capabilities and memory comparable to dedicated workstations of a few years before. Even local area networking, originally a way to allow business computers to share expensive mass storage and peripherals, became a standard feature of the personal computers used at home.

In 2001 125 million personal computers were shipped in comparison to 48 thousand in 1977. More than 500 million PCs were in use in 2002 and one billion personal computers had been sold worldwide since mid-1970s until this time. Of the latter figure, 75 percent were professional or work related, while the rest sold for personal or home use. About 81.5 percent of PCs shipped had been desktop computers, 16.4 percent laptops and 2.1 percent servers. United States had received 38.8 percent (394 million) of the computers shipped, Europe 25 percent and 11.7 percent had gone to Asia-Pacific region, the fastest-growing market as of 2002. The second billion was expected to be sold by 2008. Almost half of all the households in Western Europe had a personal computer and a computer could be found in 40 percent of homes in United Kingdom, compared with only 13 percent in 1985.

The global PC shipments was 264 million units in year 2007, according to iSuppli, up 11.2 per cent from 239 million in 2006.. In year 2004, the global shipments was 183 million units, 11.6 percent increase over 2003. In 2003, 152.6 million PCs were shipped, at an estimated value of $175 billion. In 2002, 136.7 million PCs were shipped, at an estimated value of $175 billion. In 2000, 140.2 million PCs were shipped, at an estimated value of $226 billion. Worldwide shipments of PCs surpassed the 100-million mark in 1999, growing to 113.5 million units from 93.3 million units in 1998.. In 1999, Asia had 14,1 million units shipped.

As of June 2008, the number of personal computers in use worldwide hit one billion, while another billion is expected to be reached by 2014. Mature markets like the United States, Western Europe and Japan accounted for 58 percent of the worldwide installed PCs. The emerging markets were expected to double their installed PCs by 2013 and to take 70 percent of the second billion PCs. About 180 million PCs (16 percent of the existing installed base) were expected to be replaced and 35 million to be dumped into landfill in 2008. The whole installed base grew 12 percent annually.

In the developed world, there has been a vendor tradition to keep adding functions to maintain high prices of personal computers. However, since the introduction of One Laptop per Child foudation and its low-cost XO-1 laptop, the computing industry started to pursue the price too. Although introduced only one year earlier, there were 14 million netbooks sold in 2008. Besides the regular computer manufacturers, companies making especially rugged versions of computers have sprung up, offering alternatives for people operating their machines in extreme weather or environments.

The emergence of new market segment of small, energy-efficient and low-cost devices (netbooks and nettops) could threaten established companies like Microsoft, Intel, HP or Dell, analysts said in July 2008. A market research firm International Data Corporation predicted that the category could grow from fewer than 500,000 in 2007 to 9 million in 2012 as the market for low cost and secondhand computers expands in developed economies. Also, after Microsoft ceased selling of Windows XP for ordinary machines, it made an exception and continued to offer the operating system for netbook and nettop makers.

Prior to the wide spread of PCs a computer that could fit on a desk was considered remarkably small. Today the phrase usually indicates a particular style of computer case. Desktop computers come in a variety of styles ranging from large vertical tower cases to small form factor models that can be tucked behind an LCD monitor. In this sense, the term 'desktop' refers specifically to a horizontally-oriented case, usually intended to have the display screen placed on top to save space on the desk top. Most modern desktop computers have separate screens and keyboards.

A subtype of desktops, called nettops, was introduced by Intel in February 2008 to describe low-cost, lean-function, desktop computers. A similar subtype of laptops (or notebooks) are the netbooks (see below).

A laptop computer or simply laptop, also called a notebook computer or sometimes a notebook, is a small personal computer designed for mobility. Usually all of the interface hardware needed to operate the laptop, such as parallel and serial ports, graphics card, sound channel, etc., are built in to a single unit. Most laptops contain batteries to facilitate operation without a readily available electrical outlet. In the interest of saving power, weight and space, they usually share RAM with the video channel, slowing their performance compared to an equivalent desktop machine.

One main drawback of the laptop is that, due to the size and configuration of components, relatively little can be done to upgrade the overall computer from its original design. Some devices can be attached externally through ports (including via USB), however internal upgrades are not recommended or in some cases impossible, making the desktop PC more modular.

A subtype of notebooks, called subnotebooks, are computers with most of the features of a standard laptop computer but smaller. They are larger than hand-held computers, and usually run full versions of desktop/laptop operating systems. Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC) are usually considered subnotebooks, or more specifically, subnotebook Tablet PCs (see below). Netbooks are sometimes considered in this category, though they are sometimes separated in a category of their own (see below).

Desktop replacements, meanwhile, are large laptops meant to replace a desktop computer while keeping the mobility of a laptop.

Netbook PCs are small portable computers in a "clamshell" design, that are designed specifically for wireless communication and access to the Internet. They are generally much lighter and cheaper than subnotebooks, and have a smaller display, between 7" and 9", with a screen resolution between 800x600 and 1024x768. The operating systems and applications on them are usually specially modified so they can be comfortably used with a smaller sized screen, and the OS is often based on Linux, although some netbooks run on Windows XP. Some netbooks make use of their built in high speed Wireless connectivity to offload some of their applications software to Internet servers, through the principle of Cloud computing, as most have small solid state storage systems instead of hard-disks. Storage capacities are usually in the 4 to 16 GB range. One of the first examples of such a system was the original Eee PC.

A tablet PC is a notebook or slate-shaped mobile computer, first introduced by Pen computing in the early 90s with their PenGo Tablet Computer and popularized by Microsoft. Its touchscreen or graphics tablet/screen hybrid technology allows the user to operate the computer with a stylus or digital pen, or a fingertip, instead of a keyboard or mouse. The form factor offers a more mobile way to interact with a computer. Tablet PCs are often used where normal notebooks are impractical or unwieldy, or do not provide the needed functionality.

The ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) is a specification for a small form factor tablet PC. It was developed as a joint development exercise by Microsoft, Intel, and Samsung, among others. Current UMPCs typically feature the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, Windows Vista Home Premium Edition, or Linux operating system and low-voltage Intel Pentium or VIA C7-M processors in the 1 GHz range.

A home theater PC (HTPC) is a convergence device that combines the functions of a personal computer and a digital video recorder. It is connected to a television or a television-sized computer display and is often used as a digital photo, music, video player, TV receiver and digital video recorder. Home theater PCs are also referred to as media center systems or media servers. The general goal in a HTPC is usually to combine many or all components of a home theater setup into one box. They can be purchased pre-configured with the required hardware and software needed to add television programming to the PC, or can be cobbled together out of discrete components as is commonly done with Windows Media Center, GB-PVR, SageTV, Famulent or LinuxMCE.

A pocket PC is a hardware specification for a handheld-sized computer (personal digital assistant) that runs the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system. It may have the capability to run an alternative operating system like NetBSD or Linux. It has many of the capabilities of modern desktop PCs.

Currently there are tens of thousands of applications for handhelds adhering to the Microsoft Pocket PC specification, many of which are freeware. Some of these devices also include mobile phone features. Microsoft compliant Pocket PCs can also be used with many other add-ons like GPS receivers, barcode readers, RFID readers, and cameras. In 2007, with the release of Windows Mobile 6, Microsoft dropped the name Pocket PC in favor of a new naming scheme. Devices without an integrated phone are called Windows Mobile Classic instead of Pocket PC. Devices with an integrated phone and a touch screen are called Windows Mobile Professional.

These components can usually be put together with little knowledge to build a computer. The motherboard is a main part of a computer that connects all devices together. The memory card(s), graphics card and processor are mounted directly onto the motherboard (the processor in a socket and the memory and graphics cards in expansion slots). The mass storage is connected to it with cables and can be installed in the computer case or in a separate case. This is the same for the keyboard and mouse, except that they are external and connect to the I/O panel on the back of the computer. The monitor is also connected to the I/O panel, either through an onboard port on the motherboard, or a port on the graphics card.

Several functions (implemented by chipsets) can be integrated into the motherboard, typically USB and network, but also graphics and sound. Even if these are present, a separate card can be added if what is available isn't sufficient. The graphics and sound card can have a break out box to keep the analog parts away from the electromagnetic radiation inside the computer case. For really large amounts of data, a tape drive can be used or (extra) hard disks can be put together in an external case.

The hardware capabilities of personal computers can sometimes be extended by the addition of expansion cards connected via an expansion bus. Some standard peripheral buses often used for adding expansion cards in personal computers as of 2005 are PCI, AGP (a high-speed PCI bus dedicated to graphics adapters), and PCI Express. Most personal computers as of 2005 have multiple physical PCI expansion slots. Many also include an AGP bus and expansion slot or a PCI Express bus and one or more expansion slots, but few PCs contain both buses.

A computer case is the enclosure that contains the main components of a computer. Cases are usually constructed from steel, aluminium, or plastic, although other materials such as wood, plexiglas or fans have also been used in case designs. Cases can come in many different sizes, or form factors. The size and shape of a computer case is usually determined by the form factor of the motherboard that it is designed to accommodate, since this is the largest and most central component of most computers. Consequently, personal computer form factors typically specify only the internal dimensions and layout of the case. Form factors for rack-mounted and blade servers may include precise external dimensions as well, since these cases must themselves fit in specific enclosures.

Currently, the most popular form factor for desktop computers is ATX, although microATX and small form factors have become very popular for a variety of uses. Companies like Shuttle Inc. and AOpen have popularized small cases, for which FlexATX is the most common motherboard size.

The central processing unit, or CPU, is that part of a computer which executes software program instructions. In older computers this circuitry was formerly on several printed circuit boards, but in PCs is a single integrated circuit. Nearly all PCs contain a type of CPU known as a microprocessor. The microprocessor often plugs into the motherboard using one of many different types of sockets. IBM PC compatible computers use an x86-compatible processor, usually made by Intel, AMD, VIA Technologies or Transmeta. Apple Macintosh computers were initially built with the Motorola 680x0 family of processors, then switched to the PowerPC series (a RISC architecture jointly developed by Apple Computer, IBM and Motorola), but as of 2006, Apple switched again, this time to x86-compatible processors by Intel. Modern CPUs are equipped with a fan attached via heat sink.

The motherboard, also referred to as systemboard or mainboard, is the primary circuit board within a personal computer. Many other components connect directly or indirectly to the motherboard. Motherboards usually contain one or more CPUs, supporting circuitry - usually integrated circuits (ICs) - providing the interface between the CPU memory and input/output peripheral circuits, main memory, and facilities for initial setup of the computer immediately after power-on (often called boot firmware or, in IBM PC compatible computers, a BIOS). In many portable and embedded personal computers, the motherboard houses nearly all of the PC's core components. Often a motherboard will also contain one or more peripheral buses and physical connectors for expansion purposes. Sometimes a secondary daughter board is connected to the motherboard to provide further expandability or to satisfy space constraints.

A PC's main memory is fast storage that is directly accessible by the CPU, and is used to store the currently executing program and immediately needed data. PCs use semiconductor random access memory (RAM) of various kinds such as DRAM or SRAM as their primary storage. Which exact kind depends on cost/performance issues at any particular time. Main memory is much faster than mass storage devices like hard disks or optical discs, but is usually volatile, meaning it does not retain its contents (instructions or data) in the absence of power, and is much more expensive for a given capacity than is most mass storage. Main memory is generally not suitable for long-term or archival data storage.

Mass storage devices store programs and data even when the power is off; they do require power to perform read and write functions during usage. Although semiconductor flash memory has dropped in cost, the prevailing form of mass storage in personal computers is still the electromechanical hard disk.

The disk drives use a sealed head/disk assembly (HDA) which was first introduced by IBM's "Winchester" disk system. The use of a sealed assembly allowed the use of positive air pressure to drive out particles from the surface of the disk, which improves reliability.

If the mass storage controller provides for expandability, a PC may also be upgraded by the addition of extra hard disk or optical disc drives. For example, DVD-ROMs, CD-ROMs, and various optical disc recorders may all be added by the user to certain PCs. Standard internal storage device interfaces are ATA, Serial ATA, SCSI, and CF+ type II in 2005.

The video card - otherwise called a graphics card, graphics adapter or video adapter - processes and renders the graphics output from the computer to the computer display, also called the visual display unit (VDU), and is an essential part of the modern computer. On older models, and today on budget models, graphics circuitry tended to be integrated with the motherboard but, for modern flexible machines, they are supplied in PCI, AGP, or PCI Express format.

When the IBM PC was introduced, most existing business-oriented personal computers used text-only display adapters and had no graphics capability. Home computers at that time had graphics compatible with television signals, but with low resolution by modern standards owing to the limited memory available to the eight-bit processors available at the time.

A visual display unit (also called monitor) is a piece of electrical equipment, usually separate from the computer case, which displays viewable images generated by a computer without producing a permanent record. The word "monitor" is used in other contexts; in particular in television broadcasting, where a television picture is displayed to a high standard. A computer display device is usually either a cathode ray tube or some form of flat panel such as a TFT LCD. The monitor comprises the display device, circuitry to generate a picture from electronic signals sent by the computer, and an enclosure or case. Within the computer, either as an integral part or a plugged-in interface, there is circuitry to convert internal data to a format compatible with a monitor. The images from monitors originally contained only text, but as Graphical user interfaces emerged and became common, they began to display more images and multimedia content.

In computing, a keyboard is an arrangement of buttons that each correspond to a function, letter, or number. They are the primary devices of inputing text. In most cases, they contain an aray of keys specifically organized with the corresponding letters, numbers, and functions printed or engraved on the button. They are generally designed around an operators language, and many different versions for different languages exist. In English, the most common layout is the QWERTY layout, which was originally used in typewriters. They have evolved over time, and have been modified for use in computers with the addition of function keys, number keys, arrow keys, and OS specific keys. Often, specific functions can be achieved by pressing multiple keys at once or in succession, such as inputing characters with accents or opening a task manager. Programs use keyboard shotcuts very differently and all use different keyboard shortcuts for different program specific operations, such as refreshing a web page in a web browser or selecting all text in a word processor.

A Mouse on a computer is a small, slidable device that users hold and slide around to point at, click, and sometimes drag objects on screen in a graphical user interface using a pointer on screen. Almost all Personal Computers have mice. It may be plugged into a computer's rear mouse socket, or as a USB device, or, more recently, may be connected wirelessly via a USB antenna or Bluetooth antenna. In the past, they had a single button that users could press down on the device to "click" on whatever the pointer on the screen was hovering over. Now, however, many Mice have two or three buttons; a "right click" function button on the mouse, which performs a secondary action on a selected object, and a scroll wheel, which users can rotate the wheel using their fingers to "scroll" up or down. The scroll wheel can also be pressed down, and therefore be used as a third button. Different programs make use of these functions differently, and may scroll horizontally by default with the scroll wheel, open different menus with different buttons, among others.

Mice traditionally detected movement and communicated with the computer with an internal "mouse ball"; and use optical encoders to detect rotation of the ball and tell the computer where the mouse has moved. However, these systems were subject to low durability and accuracy. Modern mice use optical technology to directly trace movement of the surface under the mouse and are much more accurate and durable. They work on a wider variety of surfaces and can even operate on walls, ceilings or other non-horizontal surfaces.

All computers require either fixed or removable storage for their operating system, programs and user generated material. Formerly the 5 1/4 inch and 3 1/2 inch floppy drive were the principal forms of removable storage for backup of user files and distribution of software.

As memory sizes increased, the capacity of the floppy did not keep pace; the Zip drive and other higher-capacity removable media were introduced but never became as prevalent as the floppy drive.

By the late 1990s the optical drive, in CD and later DVD and Blu-ray Disc, became the main method for software distribution, and writeable media provided backup and file interchange. Floppy drives have become uncommon in desktop personal computers since about 2000, and were dropped from many laptop systems even earlier.

Early home computers used compact audio cassettes for file storage; these were at the time a very low cost storage solution, but were displaced by floppy disk drives when manfacturing costs dropped, by the mid 1980s.

A second generation of tape recorders was provided when Videocassette recorders were pressed into service as backup media for larger disk drives. All these systems were less reliable and slower than purpose-built magnetic tape drives. Such tape drives were uncommon in consumer-type personal computers but were a necessity in business or industrial use.

Interchange of data such as photographs from digital cameras is greatly expedited by installation of a card reader, which often is compatible with several forms of flash memory. It is usually faster and more convenient to move large amounts of data by removing the card from the mobile device, instead of communicating with the mobile device through a USB interface.

A USB flash drive today performs much of the data transfer and backup functions formerly done with floppy drives, Zip disks and other devices. Main-stream current operating systems for personal computers provide standard support for flash drives, allowing interchange even between computers using different processors and operating systems. The compact size and lack of moving parts or dirt-sensitive media, combined with low cost for high capacity, have made flash drives a popular and useful accessory for any personal computer user.

The operating system (e.g.: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux or many others) can be located on any removable storage, but typically it is on one of the hard disks. A Live CD is also possible, but it is very slow and is usually used for installation of the OS, demonstrations, or problem solving. Flash-based memory is currently expensive (as of mid-2008) but is starting to appear in laptop computers because of its low weight and low energy consumption, compared to hard disk storage.

Computer software is a general term used to describe a collection of computer programs, procedures and documentation that perform some tasks on a computer system. The term includes application software such as word processors which perform productive tasks for users, system software such as operating systems, which interface with hardware to provide the necessary services for application software, and middleware which controls and co-ordinates distributed systems.

Software applications for word processing, Internet browsing, Internet faxing, e-mail and other digital messaging, multimedia playback, computer game play and computer programming are common. The user of a modern personal computer may have significant knowledge of the operating environment and application programs, but is not necessarily interested in programming nor even able to write programs for the computer. Therefore, most software written primarily for personal computers tends to be designed with simplicity of use, or "user-friendliness" in mind. However, the software industry continuously provide a wide range of new products for use in personal computers, targeted at both the expert and the non-expert user.

An operating system (OS) manages computer resources and provides programmers with an interface used to access those resources. An operating system processes system data and user input, and responds by allocating and managing tasks and internal system resources as a service to users and programs of the system. An operating system performs basic tasks such as controlling and allocating memory, prioritizing system requests, controlling input and output devices, facilitating computer networking and managing files.

Common contemporary desktop OSes are Microsoft Windows (~91% market share), Mac OS X (~8%), Linux (0.7%), Solaris and PC-BSD. Windows, Mac, and Linux all have server and personal variants. With the exception of Microsoft Windows, the designs of each of the aforementioned OSs were inspired by, or directly inherited from, the Unix operating system. Unix was developed at Bell Labs beginning in the late 1960s and spawned the development of numerous free and proprietary operating systems.

Microsoft Windows is the name of several families of software operating systems by Microsoft. Microsoft first introduced an operating environment named Windows in November 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). The most recent client version of Windows is Vista SP1. The current server version of Windows is Windows Server 2008.

Linux is a family of Unix-like computer operating systems. Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free software and open source development: typically all underlying source code can be freely modified, used, and redistributed by anyone. The name "Linux" comes from the Linux kernel, started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. The system's utilities and libraries usually come from the GNU operating system, announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. The GNU contribution is the basis for the alternative name GNU/Linux.

Predominantly known for its use in servers, Linux is supported by corporations such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell, Oracle Corporation, Red Hat, Canonical Ltd. and Sun Microsystems. It is used as an operating system for a wide variety of computer hardware, including desktop computers, supercomputers, video game systems, such as the PlayStation 3, several arcade games, and embedded devices such as mobile phones, routers, and stage lighting systems.

Mac OS X is a line of graphical operating systems developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc.. Mac OS X is the successor to the original Mac OS, which had been Apple's primary operating system since 1984. Unlike its predecessors, Mac OS X is a Unix-based operating system.

Application software employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task that the user wishes to perform. This should be contrasted with system software which is involved in integrating a computer's various capabilities, but typically does not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user. In this context the term application refers to both the application software and its implementation. A simple, if imperfect analogy in the world of hardware would be the relationship of an electric light bulb (an application) to an electric power generation plant (a system). The power plant merely generates electricity, not itself of any real use until harnessed to an application like the electric light that performs a service that benefits the user.

Typical examples of software applications are word processors, spreadsheets, and media players. Multiple applications bundled together as a package are sometimes referred to as an application suite. Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org, which bundle together a word processor, a spreadsheet, and several other discrete applications, are typical examples. The separate applications in a suite usually have a user interface that has some commonality making it easier for the user to learn and use each application. And often they may have some capability to interact with each other in ways beneficial to the user. For example, a spreadsheet might be able to be embedded in a word processor document even though it had been created in the separate spreadsheet application.

End-user development tailors systems to meet the user's specific needs. User-written software include spreadsheet templates, word processor macros, scientific simulations, graphics and animation scripts. Even email filters are a kind of user software. Users create this software themselves and often overlook how important it is.

Most personal computers are standardized to the point that purchased software is expected to run with little or no customization for the particular computer. Many PCs are also user-upgradeable, especially desktop and workstation class computers. Devices such as main memory, mass storage, even the motherboard and central processing unit may be easily replaced by an end user. This upgradeability is, however, not indefinite due to rapid changes in the personal computer industry. A PC that was considered top-of-the-line five or six years prior may be impractical to upgrade due to changes in industry standards. Such a computer usually must be totally replaced once it is no longer suitable for its purpose. This upgrade and replacement cycle is partially related to new releases of the primary mass-market operating system, which tends to drive the acquisition of new hardware and render obsolete previously serviceable hardware (planned obsolescence).

The processing environment may also render an older computer obsolete even if it is still in good working order. As the memory (RAM) and processing speed of the average computer increases, websites are built or rebuilt based on the expectation of this increased computing power. This spurs the development of still faster processors and higher RAM capacities, as the cycle continues.

Due to the extremely short life-span of the average PC in the U.S. alone approximately 130,000 personal computers are thrown out a day. This statistic supports the growing importance of electronic recycling.

To the top



Remote Laptop Security

Remote Laptop Security (RLS) is a security measure that allows a user to control access to files on a computer even if it has been lost or stolen. The user in charge chooses which files he or she wants to safeguard using RLS software. Desired files are converted and encrypted in order to prevent unwanted access. In the case of a loss or theft of a laptop, access to secured files on the stolen machine is denied. Until recently RLS solutions required stolen laptops to be connected to the Internet, however a new breed of RLS tools such as BackStopp use mobile phone technology and are not reliant on Internet or WiFi connections.

RLS software periodically authenticates the identity of the user. When access to files on a certain computer is deactivated, that computer will no longer pass the authentication process. Depending on the software, some programs authenticate the user’s identity whether he or she is connected to the Internet or not.

Remote Laptop Security is useful for individuals, as well as businesses dealing with medical records, insurance accounts, legal cases, customer data and other confidential client files.

To the top



Laptop

Miniaturization: a comparison of a desktop computer motherboard (ATX form factor) to a motherboard from a 13" laptop (2008 unibody Macbook)

A laptop (also known as a notebook) is a personal computer designed for mobile use small enough to sit on one's lap. A laptop includes most of the typical components of a typical desktop computer, including a display, a keyboard, a pointing device (a touchpad, also known as a trackpad, or a pointing stick) as well as a battery, into a single small and light unit. The rechargeable battery required is charged from an AC/DC adapter (ie, a wll wart) and typically stores enough energy to run the laptop for several hours.

Laptops are usually shaped like a large notebook with thicknesses between 0.7–1.5 inches (18–38 mm) and dimensions ranging from 10x8 inches (27x22cm, 13" display) to 15x11 inches (39x28cm, 17" display) and up. Modern laptops weigh 3 to 12 pounds (1.4 to 5.4 kg); older laptops were usually heavier. Most laptops are designed in the flip form factor to protect the screen and the keyboard when closed. Modern 'tablet' laptops have a complex joint between the keyboard housing and the display, permitting the display panel to twist and then lay flat on the keyboard housing. They usually have a touchscreen display and some include handwriting recognition or graphics drawing capability.

Laptops were originally considered to be "a small niche market" and were thought suitable mostly for "specialized field applications" such as "the military, the Internal Revenue Service, accountants and sales representatives". Battery-powered portable computers had just 2% worldwide market share in 1986. But today, there are already more laptops than desktops in businesses, and laptop are becoming obligatory for student use and more popular for general use. According to a forecast by Intel, more laptops than desktops will be sold in the general PC market as soon as 2009.

As the personal computer became feasible in the early 1970s, the idea of a portable personal computer followed. In particular, a "personal, portable information manipulator" was imagined by Alan Kay at Xerox PARC in 1968 and described in his 1972 paper as the "Dynabook".

The I.B.M. SCAMP project (Special Computer APL Machine Portable), was demonstrated in 1973. This prototype was based on the PALM processor (Put All Logic In Microcode).

The I.B.M. 5100, the first commercially available portable computer, appeared in September 1975, and was based on the SCAMP prototype.

As 8-bit CPU machines became widely accepted, the number of portables increased rapidly. The Osborne 1 used the Zilog Z80, weighed 23.5 pounds (10.7 kg). It had no battery, only a tiny 5" CRT screen and dual 5¼" single-density floppy drives. In the same year the first laptop-sized portable computer, the Epson HX-20, was announced. The Epson had a LCD screen, a rechargeable battery and a calculator-size printer in a 1.6 kg (4 pounds) chassis. Both Tandy/Radio Shack and HP also produced portable computers of varying designs during this period.

The first laptop using the clamshell design, used today by almost all laptops, appeared in 1982. The $8150 GRiD Compass 1100 was used at NASA and by the military among others. The Gavilan SC, released in 1983, was the first notebook marketed using the term "laptop".

Early laptops often had proprietary and incompatible system architectures, operating systems, and bundled applications, making third party hardware and software difficult and sometimes impossible to develop.

A desktop replacement computer is a laptop that provides most of the capabilities of a desktop computer, with a similar level of performance. Desktop replacements are usually larger and heavier than standard laptops. They contain more powerful components and numerous ports, and have a 15.4" or larger display. Because of their bulk, they are not as portable as other laptops and their operation time on batteries is typically shorter.

Some laptops in this class use a limited range of desktop components to provide better performance for the same price at the expense of battery life; in a few of those models, there is no battery at all, and the laptop can only be used when plugged in. These are sometimes called desknotes, a portmanteau of the words "desktop" and "notebook," though the term can also be applied to desktop replacement computers in general.

In the early 2000s, desktops were more powerful, easier to upgrade, and much cheaper in comparison with laptops. But in the last few years, the advantages have drastically changed or shrunk since the performance of laptops has markedly increased. In the second half of 2008, laptops have finally outsold desktops for the first time ever. In the U.S., the PC shipment declined 10 percent in the forth quarter of 2008. In Asia, the worst PC shipment growth went up 1.8 percent over the same quarter the previous year since PC statistics research started.

The names "Media Center Laptops" and "Gaming Laptops" are also used to describe this class of notebooks.

Although the term Notebook is now often used interchangeably with the term Laptop, it was originally introduced to differentiate a smaller, thinner and lighter range of devices (comparable with a traditional paper notebook) which supplanted their larger counterparts.

A subnotebook, also called an ultraportable by some vendors, is a laptop designed and marketed with an emphasis on portability (small size, low weight and long battery life) that retains the performance of a standard notebook. Subnotebooks are usually smaller and lighter than standard laptops, weighing between 0.8 and 2 kg (2 to 5 pounds); the battery life can exceed 10 hours when a large battery or an additional battery pack is installed.

To achieve the size and weight reductions, ultraportables use high resolution 13" and smaller screens (down to 6.4"), have relatively few ports, employ expensive components designed for minimal size and best power efficiency, and utilize advanced materials and construction methods. Some subnotebooks achieve a further portability improvement by omitting an optical/removable media drive; in this case they may be paired with a docking station that contains the drive and optionally more ports or an additional battery.

The term "subnotebook" is usually reserved to laptops that run general-purpose desktop operating systems such as Windows, Linux or Mac OS X, rather than specialized software such as Windows CE, Palm OS or Internet Tablet OS.

Netbooks are laptops that are light-weight, economical, energy-efficient and especially suited for wireless communication and Internet access. Hence the name netbook (as "the device excels in web-based computing performance") rather than notebook which pertains to size.

Especially suited for web browsing and e-mailing, netbooks "rely heavily on the Internet for remote access to web-based applications" and are targeted increasingly at cloud computing users who rely on servers and require a less powerful client computer.. While the devices range in size from below 5 inches to over 12, most are between 7 and 11 inches and weigh between 2 and 3 pounds.

Netbooks have a wide range of light-weight operating systems including Linux and Windows XP rather than more resource-intensive operating systems like Windows Vista as they have less processing power than traditional laptops.

A rugged (or ruggedized) laptop is designed to reliably operate in harsh usage conditions such as strong vibrations, extreme temperatures and wet or dusty environments. Rugged laptops are usually designed from scratch, rather than adapted from regular consumer laptop models. Rugged notebooks are bulkier, heavier, and much more expensive than regular laptops, and thus are seldom seen in regular consumer use.

The design features found in rugged laptops include rubber sheeting under the keyboard keys, sealed port and connector covers, passive cooling, superbright displays easily readable in daylight, cases and frames made of magnesium alloys or have a magnesium alloy rollcage that are much stronger than plastic found in commercial laptops and solid-state storage devices or hard disc drives that are shock mounted to withstand constant vibrations. Rugged laptops are commonly used by public safety services (police, fire and medical emergency), military, utilities, field service technicians, construction, mining and oil drilling personnel. Rugged laptops are usually sold to organizations, rather than individuals, and are rarely marketed via retail channels.

The basic components of laptops are similar in function to their desktop counterparts, but are miniaturized, adapted to mobile use, and designed for low power consumption. Because of the additional requirements, laptop components have worse performance than desktop parts of comparable price. Furthermore, the design bounds on power, size, and cooling of laptops limit the maximum performance of laptop parts compared to that of desktop components.

A docking station is a relatively bulky laptop accessory that contains multiple ports, expansion slots and bays for fixed or removable drives. A laptop connects and disconnects easily to a docking station, typically through a single large proprietary connector. A port replicator is a simplified docking station that only provides connections from the laptop to input/output ports. Both docking stations and port replicators are intended to be used at a permanent working place (a desk) to offer instant connection to multiple input/output devices and to extend a laptop's capabilities.

Docking stations became a common laptop accessory in the early 1990s. The most common use was in a corporate computing environment where the company had standardized on a common network card and this same card was placed into the docking station. These stations were very large and quite expensive. As the need for additional storage and expansion slots became less critical because of the high integration inside the laptop, the "port replicator" has gained popularity. The port replicator was a cheaper, often passive device that simply mated to the connectors on the back of the notebook and allowed the user to quickly connect his laptop so that his monitor, keyboard, printer and other devices were instantly attached. As higher speed ports such as USB and Firewire became common, the connection of a port replicator to a laptop was accomplished by a small cable connected to one of the USB or FireWire ports on the notebook. Wireless Port Replicators are available as well.

A recent variant of the port replicator is the combined power/display/USB hub cable found in the new Apple Cinema Display.

Some laptop components (optical drives, hard drives, memory and internal expansion cards) are relatively standardized, and it is possible to upgrade or replace them in many laptops as long as the new part is of the same type. Subtle incompatibilities and variations in dimensions, however, are not uncommon. Depending on the manufacturer and model, a laptop may range from having several standard, easily customizable and upgradeable parts to a proprietary design that can't be reconfigured at all.

In general, components other than the four categories listed above are not intended to be replaceable, and thus rarely follow a standard. In particular, motherboards, locations of ports, design and placement of internal components are usually make- and model-specific. Those parts are neither interchangeable with parts from other manufacturers nor upgradeable. If broken or damaged, they must be substituted with an exact replacement part. The users uneducated in the relevant fields are those the most affected by incompatibilities, especially if they attempt to connect their laptops with incompatible hardware or power adapters.

Intel, Asus, Compal, Quanta and other laptop manufacturers have created the Common Building Block standard for laptop parts to address some of the inefficiencies caused by the lack of standards.

While the performance of mainstream desktops and laptops is comparable, laptops are significantly more expensive than desktop PCs at the same performance level. The upper limits of performance of laptops are a little bit lower, and "bleeding-edge" features usually appear first in desktops and only then, as the underlying technology matures, are adapted to laptops.

However, for Internet browsing and typical office applications, where the computer spends the majority of its time waiting for the next user input, even netbook-class laptops are generally fast enough. Standard laptops are sufficiently powerful for high-resolution movie playback, 3D gaming and video editing and encoding. Number-crunching software (databases, math, engineering, financial, etc.) is the area where the laptops are at the biggest disadvantage.

Upgradeability of laptops is very limited compared to desktops, which are thoroughly standardized. In general, hard drives and memory can be upgraded easily. Optical drives and internal expansion cards may be upgraded if they follow an industry standard, but all other internal components, including the CPU and graphics, are not intended to be upgradeable.

The reasons for limited upgradeability are both technical and economic. There is no industry-wide standard form factor for laptops; each major laptop manufacturer pursues its own proprietary design and construction, with the result that laptops are difficult to upgrade and have high repair costs. With few exceptions, laptop components can rarely be swapped between laptops of competing manufacturers, or even between laptops from the different product-lines of the same manufacturer.

Some upgrades can be performed by adding external devices, either USB or in expansion card format such a PC Card: sound cards, network adapters, hard and optical drives, and numerous other peripherals are available. But those upgrades usually impair the laptop's portability, because they add cables and boxes to the setup and often have to be disconnected and reconnected when the laptop is moved.

Because of their small and flat keyboard and trackpad pointing devices, prolonged use of laptops can cause repetitive strain injury. Usage of separate, external ergonomic keyboards and pointing devices is recommended to prevent injury when working for long periods of time; they can be connected to a laptop easily by USB or via a docking station. Some health standards require ergonomic keyboards at workplaces.

The integrated screen often causes users to hunch over for a better view, which can cause neck or spinal injuries. A larger and higher-quality external screen can be connected to almost any laptop to alleviate that and to provide additional "screen estate" for more productive work.

A study by State University of New York researchers found that heat generated from laptops can raise the temperature of the scrotum when balancing the computer on one's lap, potentially putting sperm count at risk. The small study, which included little more than two dozen men aged 13 to 35, found that the sitting position required to balance a laptop can raise scrotum temperature by as much as 2.1 °C (3.8 °F). Heat from the laptop itself can raise the temperature by another 0.7 °C (1.4 °F), bringing the potential total increase to 2.8 °C (5.2 °F). However, further research is needed to determine whether this directly affects sterility in men.

A common practical solution to this problem is to place the laptop on a table or desk. Another solution is to obtain a cooling unit for the laptop, these units are usually USB powered consist of a hard thin plastic case housing 1, 2 or 3 cooling fans (the whole thing is designed to sit under a laptop) which results in the laptop remaining cool to the touch, and greatly reduces laptop heat generation. There are several companies which make these coolers.

Heat from using a laptop on the lap can also cause skin discoloration on the thighs.

Due to their portability, laptops are subject to more wear and physical damage than desktops. Components such as screen hinges, latches, power jacks and power cords deteriorate gradually due to ordinary use. A liquid spill onto the keyboard, a rather minor mishap with a desktop system, can damage the internals of a laptop and result in a costly repair. One study found that a laptop is 3 times more likely to break during the first year of use than a desktop.

Original external components are expensive (a replacement AC adapter, for example, could cost $75); other parts are inexpensive—a power jack can cost a few dollars—but their replacement may require extensive disassembly and reassembly of the laptop by a technician. Other inexpensive but fragile parts often cannot be purchased separate from larger more expensive components. The repair costs of a failed motherboard or LCD panel may exceed the value of a used laptop.

Laptops rely on extremely compact cooling systems involving a fan and heat sink that can fail due to eventual clogging by accumulated airborne dust and debris. Most laptops do not have any sort of removable dust collection filter over the air intake for these cooling systems, resulting in a system that gradually runs hotter and louder as the years pass. Eventually the laptop starts to overheat even at idle load levels. This dust is usually stuck inside where casual cleaning and vacuuming cannot remove it. Instead, a complete disassembly is needed to clean the laptop.

Battery life of laptops is limited; the capacity drops with time, necessitating an eventual replacement after a few years.

Being expensive, common and portable, laptops are prized targets for theft. The cost of the stolen business or personal data and of the resulting problems (identity theft, credit card fraud, breach of privacy laws) can be many times the value of the stolen laptop itself. Therefore, both physical protection of laptops and the safeguarding of data contained on them are of the highest importance.

Most laptops have a Kensington security slot which is used to tether the computer to a desk or other immovable object with a security cable and lock. In addition to this, modern operating systems and third-party software offer disk encryption functionality that renders the data on the laptop's hard drive unreadable without a key or a passphrase.

There are several categories of portable computing devices that can run on batteries but are not usually classified as laptops: portable computers, keyboardless tablet PCs, Internet tablets, PDAs, Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) and smartphones.

A Portable computer is a general-purpose computer that can be easily moved from place to place, but cannot be used while in transit, usually because it requires some "setting-up" and an AC power source. The most famous example is the Osborne 1. Also called a "transportable" or a "luggable" PC.

A Tablet PC that lacks a keyboard (also known as a non-convertible Tablet PC) is shaped like slate or a paper notebook, features a touchscreen with a stylus and handwriting recognition software. Tablets may not be best suited for applications requiring a physical keyboard for typing, but are otherwise capable of carrying out most tasks that an ordinary laptop would be able to perform.

An Internet tablet is an Internet appliance in tablet form. Unlike a Tablet PC, an Internet tablet does not have much computing power and its applications suite is limited—it can not replace a general purpose computer. Internet tablets typically feature an MP3 and video player, a web browser, a chat application and a picture viewer.

A Personal digital assistant (PDA) is a small, usually pocket-sized, computer with limited functionality. It is intended to supplement and to synchronize with a desktop computer, giving access to contacts, address book, notes, e-mail and other features.

An Ultra Mobile PC is a full-featured, PDA-sized computer running a general-purpose operating system.

A Smart phone is a PDA with an integrated cellphone functionality. Current smartphones have a wide range of features and installable applications.

Boundaries that separate these categories are blurry at times. For example, the OQO UMPC is also a PDA-sized tablet PC; the Apple eMate had the clamshell form factor of a laptop, but ran PDA software. The HP Omnibook line of laptops included some devices small enough to be called Ultra Mobile PCs. The hardware of the Nokia 770 internet tablet is essentially the same as that of a PDA such as the Zaurus 6000; the only reason it's not called a PDA is that it doesn't have PIM software. On the other hand, both the 770 and the Zaurus can run some desktop Linux software, usually with modifications.

There is a multitude of laptop brands and manufacturers; several major brands, offering notebooks in various classes, are listed in the box to the right.

The major brands usually offer good service and support, including well-executed documentation and driver downloads that will remain available for many years after a particular laptop model is no longer produced. Capitalizing on service, support and brand image, laptops from major brands are more expensive than laptops by smaller brands and ODMs.

Some brands are specializing in a particular class of laptops, such as gaming laptops (Alienware), netbooks (EeePC) and laptops for children (OLPC).

Many brands, including the major ones, do not design and do not manufacture their laptops. Instead, a small number of Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) design new models of laptops, and the brands choose the models to be included in their lineup. In 2006, 7 major ODMs manufactured 7 of every 10 laptops in the world, with the largest one (Quanta Computer) having 30% world market share. Therefore, there often are identical models available both from a major label and from a low-profile ODM in-house brand.

For year 2008 it is estimated that 145.9 million notebooks were sold, and in 2009 the number will grow to 177.7 million. The third quarter of 2008 was the first time when notebook PC shipments exceeded desktops, with 38.6 million units versus 38.5 million units.

To the top



OLPC XO-1

OLPC XO-1 original design proposal

The XO-1, previously known as the $100 Laptop, Children's Machine, and 2B1, is an inexpensive subnotebook computer intended to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world, to provide them with access to knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves" (constructionist learning). The laptop is developed by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization and manufactured by Quanta Computer.

The subnotebooks are designed for sale to government-education systems which then give each primary school child their own laptop. Pricing was set to start at $188 in 2006, with a stated goal to reach the $100 mark in 2008. In actual implementation, prices have remained $199 each for both the winter 2007 and winter 2008 Give One, Get One campaigns (and thus $399 per pair).

These rugged, low-power computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, and come with a distribution of Linux derived from RedHat's Fedora as their pre-installed operating system, which comes stored in both a copy on the flash memory and in the on-board ROM backup. Mobile ad-hoc networking via 802.11s WiFi mesh networking protocol is used to allow many machines to share Internet access as long as at least one of them can see and connect to a router or other access point.

This computer design helped to define the emerging (2007) category of Netbooks (subnotebooks).

The first early prototype was unveiled by the project's founder Nicholas Negroponte and then-United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan on November 16, 2005 at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, Tunisia. The device shown was a rough prototype using a standard development board. Negroponte estimated that the screen alone required three more months of development. The first working prototype was demonstrated at the project's Country Task Force Meeting on May 23, 2006. The production version is expected to have a larger display screen in the same size package.

Approximately 500 developer boards (Alpha-1) were distributed in mid-2006; 875 working prototypes (Beta 1) were delivered in late 2006; 2400 Beta-2 machines were distributed at the end of February 2007; full-scale production started November 6, 2007. Quanta Computer, the project's contract manufacturer, said in February 2007 that it had confirmed orders for one million units. Quanta indicated that it could ship five million to ten million units that year because seven nations had committed to buy the XO-1 for their schoolchildren: Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand, and Uruguay. Quanta plans to offer machines very similar to the XO-1 on the open market.

The OLPC project originally stated that a consumer version of the XO laptop was not planned. The project later established, in 2007 the laptopgiving.org website for outright donations and for a "Give 1 Get 1" offer valid (but only to the United States, its territories, and Canadian addresses) from November 12, 2007 until December 31, 2007. For each computer purchased at a cost of $399, an XO is also sent to a child in a developing nation.As of November 2008, OLPC has restarted the G1G1 program through Amazon.com.

On May 20th, 2008, OLPC announced the next generation of XO, OLPC XO-2. In late 2008, the NYC Department of Education began a project to purchase large numbers of XO computers for use by New York schoolchildren.

The XO-1 is designed to be low-cost, small, durable, and efficient. It is shipped with a slimmed-down version of Fedora GNU/Linux and a GUI called Sugar that is intended to help young children collaborate. The XO-1 includes a video camera, a microphone, long-range Wi-Fi, and a hybrid stylus/touch pad. Human power and solar power sources are available, in addition to allowing operation far from a commercial power grid (which can also be used to power the laptop).

Various use models had been explored by OLPC with the help of Design Continuum and Fuseproject, including: laptop, e-book, theatre, simulation, tote, and tablet architectures. The current design, by Fuseproject, uses a transformer hinge to morph between laptop, e-book, and router modes.

In keeping with its goals of robustness and low power consumption, the design of the laptop intentionally omits all motor-driven moving parts; it has no hard drive, no optical (CD/DVD) media, no floppy drives and no fans. An ATA interface is unnecessary due to the lack of hard drive. There is also no PC card slot, although an SD slot is available, as well as USB ports.

A built-in hand-crank generator, making it self-powered equipment, was part of the original design, but Negroponte stated at a 2006 LinuxWorld talk that it was no longer integrated into the laptop itself, but that a similar device could someday be optionally available as a hand- or foot-operated generator built into a separate power unit.

The laptop will consume about 2 W of power during normal use, far less than the 10 W to 45 W of conventional laptops. With build 656 power consumption is between 5 and 8 watts. (Measured on G1G1 laptop) Future software builds should meet the target of 2 watts.

In e-book mode, which is still under development and has not yet been released, all hardware sub-systems are intended to be powered down except the monochrome display. When the user moves to a different page the system will wake up, draw the new page on the display and then go back to sleep. Power consumption in this future "e-book mode" is estimated to be 0.3 W to 0.8 W.

The first-generation OLPC laptops have a novel low-cost LCD. Later generations of the OLPC laptop are expected to use low-cost, low-power and high-resolution color displays with an appearance similar to electronic paper.

The display is the most expensive component in most laptops. In April 2005, Negroponte hired Mary Lou Jepsen—who was interviewing to join the Media Arts and Sciences faculty at the MIT Media Lab in September 2008—as OLPC Chief Technology Officer. Jepsen developed a new display for the first-generation OLPC laptop, inspired by the design of small LCDs used in portable DVD players, which she estimated would cost about $35. In the OLPC XO-1, the screen is estimated to be the second most expensive component (after the CPU and chipset).

Jepsen has described the removal of the filters that color the RGB subpixels as the critical design innovation in the new LCD. Instead of using subtractive color filters, the display uses a plastic diffraction grating and lenses on the rear of the LCD to illuminate each pixel. This grating pattern is stamped using the same technology used to make DVDs. The grating splits the light from the white backlight into a spectrum. The red, green and blue components are diffracted into the correct positions to illuminate the corresponding pixel with R, G or B. This innovation results in a much brighter display for a given amount of backlight illumination: while the color filters in a regular display typically absorb 85% of the light that hits them, this display absorbs little of that light. Most LCD screens use cold cathode fluorescent lamp backlights which are fragile, difficult or impossible to repair, require a high voltage power supply, are relatively power-hungry, and account for 50% of the screens' cost (sometimes 60%). The LED backlight in the XO-1 is easily replaceable, rugged, and inexpensive.

The remainder of the LCD uses existing display technology and can be made using existing manufacturing equipment. Even the masks can be made using combinations of existing materials and processes.

When lit primarily from the rear with the white LED backlight, the display shows a color image composed of both RGB and grayscale information. When lit primarily from the front by ambient light, for example from the sun, the display shows a monochromatic (aka black and white) image composed of just the grayscale information.

In color mode (aka lit primarily from the rear), the display does not use the common RGB pixel geometry for liquid crystal computer displays, in which each pixel contains three tall thin rectangles of the primary colors. Instead, the XO-1 display provides only one color for each pixel. The colors align along diagonals that run from upper-right to lower left (see diagram on the right). To reduce the color artifacts caused by this pixel geometry, the color component of the image is blurred by the display controller as the image is sent to the screen. Despite the color blurring, the display still has high resolution for its physical size; normal displays as of February 2007 put about 588(H)×441(V) to 882(H)×662(V) pixels in this amount of physical area and support subpixel rendering for slightly higher perceived resolution. A Philips Research study measured the XO-1 display's perceived color resolution as effectively 984(H)×738(V). A conventional liquid crystal display with the same number of green pixels (green carries most brightness or luminance information for human eyes) as the OLPC XO-1 would be 693×520. Unlike a standard RGB LCD, resolution of the XO-1 display varies with angle. Resolution is greatest from upper-right to lower left, and lowest from upper-left to lower-right. Images which approach or exceed this resolution will lose detail and gain color artifacts. The display gains resolution when in bright light; this comes at the expense of color (as the backlight is overpowered) and color resolution can never reach the full 200 dpi sharpness of grayscale mode because of the blur which is applied to images in color mode.

IEEE 802.11b support will be provided using a Wi-Fi “Extended Range” chip set. Jepsen has said the wireless chip set will be run at a low bit rate, 2 Mbit/s maximum rather than the usual higher speed 5.5 Mbit/s or 11 Mbit/s to minimize power consumption. The conventional IEEE 802.11b system only handles traffic within a local cloud of wireless devices in a manner similar to an Ethernet network. Each node transmits and receives its own data, but does not route packets between two nodes that cannot communicate directly. The OLPC laptop will use IEEE 802.11s to form the wireless mesh network.

Whenever the laptop is powered on it will participate in a mobile ad-hoc network (MANET) with each node operating in a peer-to-peer fashion with other laptops it can hear, forwarding packets across the cloud. If a computer in the cloud has access to the Internet—either directly or indirectly—then all computers in the cloud are able to share that access. The data rate across this network will not be high; however, similar networks, such as the store and forward Motoman project have supported email services to 1000 schoolchildren in Cambodia, according to Negroponte. The data rate should be sufficient for asynchronous network applications (such as email) to communicate outside the cloud; interactive uses, such as web browsing, or high-bandwidth applications, such as video streaming should be possible inside the cloud. The IP assignment for the meshed network is intended to be automatically configured, so no server administrator or an administration of IP addresses is needed.

Building a MANET is still untested under the OLPC's current configuration and hardware environment. Although one goal of the laptop is that all of its software be open source, the source code for this routing protocol is currently closed source. While there are open-source alternatives such as OLSR or B.A.T.M.A.N., none of these options is yet available running at the data-link layer (Layer 2) on the Wi-Fi subsystem's co-processor; this is critical to OLPC's power efficiency scheme. Whether Marvell Technology Group, the producer of the wireless chip set and owner of the current meshing protocol software, will make the firmware open source is still an unanswered question. But this matter will become clearer once the production is in full swing.

Yves Behar is the chief designer of the present XO shell. The shell of the laptop is resistant to dirt and moisture, and is constructed with 2 mm thick plastic (50% thicker than typical laptops). It contains a pivoting, reversible display, movable rubber WiFi antennas, and a sealed rubber-membrane keyboard.

More than ten different keyboards have been laid out, to suit local needs to match the standard keyboard for the country in which a laptop is intended. Around half of these have been manufactured for prototype machines. There are parts of the world which do not have a standard keyboard representing their language. As Negroponte states this is “because there's no real commercial interest in making a keyboard”. One example of where the OLPC has bridged this gap is in creating an Amharic keyboard for Ethiopia.

Negroponte has demanded that the keyboard not contain a caps lock key, which frees up keyboard space for new keys such as a future “view source” key.

Beneath the keyboard is a large area that resembles a very wide touchpad that Jepsen referred to as the “mousepad”. The central third is a capacitive sensor that can be used with a finger; the full width is a resistive sensor which, while not yet operational, may someday be used with a stylus.

The laptop will use the Sugar graphical user interface, written in Python, on top of the X Window System and the Matchbox window manager. This interface is not based on the typical desktop metaphor but presents an iconic view of programs and documents and a map-like view of nearby connected users. The current active program is displayed in full-screen mode. Much of the core Sugar interface uses icons, bypassing localization issues. Sugar is also defined as having no folders present in the UI.

Steve Jobs had offered Mac OS X free of charge for use in the laptop, but according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative's founders, the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with: “We declined because it’s not open source.” Therefore Linux was chosen. However, after a deal with Microsoft, the laptop will now be offered with Windows XP along with an open source alternative.

The laptop's security architecture, known as Bitfrost, was publicly introduced in February 2007. No passwords will be required for ordinary use of the machine. Programs are assigned certain bundles of rights at install time which govern their access to resources; users can later add more rights. Optionally, the laptops can be configured to request leases from a central server and to stop functioning when these leases expire; this is designed as a theft-prevention mechanism.

The pre-8.20 software versions were criticized for bad wireless conectivity and other minor issues.

Xfce is a lightweight alternative GUI to Sugar. Being only 33 MB (using yum) it does not take up much of an XO's storage space - less than GNOME or KDE. According to the OLPC Wiki: "Xfce is a lightweight but powerful desktop environment that will work well on the XO" It is by far the most common alternative GUI. Information on installation is available at: OLPC Wiki: Xfce.The XO is also now available dual boot and can run a version of MS Windows. Ubuntu Linux can run on the machine.

To the top



One Laptop per Child

OLPC logo.png

The One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc. (OLPC) is a U.S. non-profit organization set up to oversee the creation of an affordable educational device for use in the developing world. Its mission is "To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning." Its current focus is on the development, construction and deployment of the XO-1 laptop.

The organization is chaired by Nicholas Negroponte. Other principals of the company include Charles Kane, President and Chief Operating Officer. OLPC is a 501(c)(3) organization registered in Delaware, USA and is funded by member organizations, including AMD, Brightstar Corporation, eBay, Google, Marvell, News Corporation, SES, Nortel Networks, and Red Hat. Each company has donated two million dollars.

OLPC has generated a great deal of interest in the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), in education and One to one computing fields of research.

To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.

It's an education project, not a laptop project.

The goal of the foundation is to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves. To that end, OLPC is designing a laptop, educational software, manufacturing base, and distribution system to provide children outside of the first-world with otherwise unavailable technological learning opportunities.

OLPC is based on constructionist learning theories pioneered by Seymour Papert, Alan Kay, and also on the principles expressed in Nicholas Negroponte’s book Being Digital. These three individuals plus the several sponsor organizations are active participants in OLPC.

Many concepts preceding the OLPC project were discussed and explored at a number of conferences. The 2B1 Conference, held in 1997 at the Media Lab brought together educators from developing countries around the world to "break down world barriers of race, age, gender, language, class, economics and geography." The most immediate outcome of that conference was the establishment of the Nation1 project and the Junior Summit, held the following year, although many of the sessions at 2B1 helped inform OLPC.

Both the project and the organization were announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2005 and were created by faculty members of the MIT Media Lab. The OLPC project gained much more attention when Nicholas Negroponte and Kofi Annan unveiled a working prototype of the Children's Machine 1 (CM1) on November 16, 2005 at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, Tunisia. Negroponte showed two prototypes of the CM1 laptop at the second phase of the World Summit: a non working physical model and a tethered version using an external board and separate keyboard. The device shown was a rough prototype using a standard development board. Negroponte estimated that the screen alone required three more months of development. The first working prototype was demonstrated at the project's Country Task Force Meeting on May 23, 2006. The production version is expected to have a larger display screen in the same size package. The laptops were originally scheduled to be available by early 2007, but production actually began in November, 2007.

At the 2006 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced it would back the laptop. UNDP released a statement saying they would work with OLPC to deliver “technology and resources to targeted schools in the least developed countries”.

The project originally aimed for a price of 100 US dollars. In May 2006, Negroponte told the Red Hat's annual user summit: “It is a floating price. We are a nonprofit organization. We have a target of $100 by 2008, but probably it will be $135, maybe $140.” When the laptop started mass production in November 2007, the unit price was estimated to be $188 when bought by thousand units. At the same time, the laptop was made available under the "Give 1 Get 1" program at $199 for a single unit, or $399 for 2 units.

Mary Lou Jepsen was CTO until her resignation at the end of 2007 to found a new company, Pixel Qi, to continue the development and commercialization of ideas from the XO.

Intel was a member of the association for a brief period in 2007. It resigned its membership on 3 January 2008, citing disagreements with requests from OLPC's founder, Nicholas Negroponte, for Intel to stop dumping their Classmate PCs.

Ivan Krstić (former OLPC Director of Security Architecture) resigned in late February, 2008 because, he said, learning wasn’t what the OLPC was about even for Nicholas Negroponte (see quote below).

On April 22, 2008, Walter Bender, who was the former President of Software and Content for the OLPC project, stepped down from his post and left OLPC to found Sugar Labs. Bender reportedly had a disagreement with Nicholas Negroponte, the pioneer of the project itself, about the future of the OLPC and their future partnerships. Nicholas Negroponte also showed some doubt about the exclusive use of open source software for the project and made suggestions supporting a move towards adding Windows XP which Microsoft was in the process of porting over to the XO hardware. Microsoft's Windows XP, however, is not seen by some as a sustainable operating system. Microsoft announced on May 16, 2008 that Windows XP would be offered as an option on XO-1 laptops and possibly be able to dual boot alongside Linux.

Charles Kane became the new President and Chief Operating Officer of the OLPC Association on May 2, 2008. In late 2008, the NYC Department of Education began a project to purchase large numbers of XO computers for use by New York schoolchildren.

OLPC began streaming advertisements as one of the sponsors for video streaming website Hulu in 2008. One such ad has John Lennon advertising for OLPC, with an unknown voice actor redubbing over Lennon's voice.

The 2008 economic downturn and increased netbook competition reduced OLPC's annual budget from $12 million to $5 million and a major restructuring resulted effective January 7, 2009. Development of the Sugar operating environment was moved entirely into the community, the Latin America support organization was spun out and staff reductions, including Jim Gettys, affected approximately 50% of the paid employees. The remaining 32 staffers also saw salary reductions.

The XO-1, previously known as the "$100 Laptop" or "Children's Machine", is an inexpensive laptop computer designed to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world, to provide them with access to knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves" (constructionist learning). The laptop is manufactured by the Taiwanese computer company Quanta Computer.

The rugged, low-power computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, run a Red Hat Linux-based operating system and use the Sugar user interface. Mobile ad-hoc networking based on the 802.11s wireless mesh network protocol allows students to collaborate on Activities and to share Internet access from one connection. The wireless networking has much greater range than typical consumer laptops. The XO-1 has also been designed to be lower cost and much longer lived than typical laptops.

The laptops include an anti-theft system which can, optionally, require each laptop to periodically make contact with a server to renew its cryptographic lease token. If the cryptographic lease expires before the server is contacted, the laptop will be locked until a new token is provided. The contact may be to a country specific server over a network or to a local, school-level server that has been manually loaded with cryptographic "lease" tokens that enable a laptop to run for days or even months between contacts. Cryptographic lease tokens can be supplied on a USB key for un-networked schools.

Microsoft is developing a modified version of Windows XP and announced in May 2008 that Windows XP will be available for an additional cost of 10 dollars per laptop.

The OLPC project is working on an updated XO (dubbed XO-1.5) that will have fewer physical parts and cost less than the XO-1. It could include a faster processor, better wireless hardware, increased storage capacity and rubber bumpers for added screen protection. It is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2009.

On May 20, 2008 OLPC unveiled its plans for the 2nd generation XO. Key goals for the XO-2 include cost reduction, lower power consumption, smaller footprint and enhanced e-book experience. The XO-2 is targeted for 2010 at the cost of $75. It will consist of two multitouch-sensitive displays, and can be used as a normal laptop (having one of the screens as a keyboard), as an e-book (each screen displaying one page) or in a tablet mode (when flat, the handbook provides a surface for drawing, writing, and games). See also OLPC XO-2 for more info.

The laptops are sold to governments, to be distributed through the ministries of education with the goal of distributing “one laptop per child”. The laptops are given to students, similar to school uniforms and ultimately remain the property of the child. The operating system and software is localized to the languages of the participating countries.

Approximately 500 developer boards (Alpha-1) were distributed in mid-2006; 875 working prototypes (Beta 1) were delivered in late 2006; 2400 Beta-2 machines were distributed at the end of February 2007; full-scale production started November 6, 2007. Around one million units will be manufactured and deployed in 2008.

OLPC initially stated that no consumer version of the XO laptop was planned. The project, however, later established the laptopgiving.org website to accept direct donations and ran a "Give 1 Get 1" (G1G1) offer starting on November 12, 2007. The offer was initially scheduled to run for only two weeks, but was extended until December 31, 2007 to meet demand. With a donation of $399 (plus US$25 shipping cost) to the OLPC "Give 1 Get 1" program, donors received an XO-1 laptop of their own and OLPC sent another on their behalf to a child in a developing country. Shipments of "Get 1" laptops sent to donors were restricted to addresses within the United States, its territories, and Canada.

Some 83,500 donors participated in the program. By January 19, 2008 at least 5000 of the donors had not yet received their "Get 1" laptop because of order fulfillment and shipment issues both within OLPC and with the outside contractors hired to manage those aspects of the G1G1 program. Delivery of all of the G1G1 laptops was completed by April 19, 2008.

Between November 17, 2008 and December 31, 2008, a second G1G1 program has been run through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. This partnership was chosen specifically to solve the distribution issues of the G1G1 2007 program. The price to consumers was the same as in 2007, at 399 USD.

The program aimed to be available worldwide. Laptops could be delivered in the USA, in Canada and in more than 30 European countries, as well as in some Central & South American countries (Haiti, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay), African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda) and Asian countries (Afghanistan, Mongolia, Nepal).. Despite this, the program sold only about 12,500 laptops and generated a mere $2.5 million - a 93 percent decline from the year before.

In October 2007, Uruguay placed an order for 100,000 laptops, making Uruguay the first country to purchase a full order of laptops. The first real, non-pilot deployment of the OLPC technology happened in Uruguay in December 2007. Since then, 200,000 more laptops have been ordered to cover all public school children between 6 and 12 years old.

OLPC's dedication to "Free and open source" was questioned with their May 15, 2008 announcement that large scale purchasers would be offered the choice to add an extra cost, special version of the proprietary Windows XP OS developed by Microsoft alongside the regular, free and open Linux-based "Sugar" OS. James Utzschneider, from Microsoft, said that initially only one operating system could be chosen. OLPC, however, said that future OLPC work would enable XO-1 laptops to dual boot either the free and open Linux/Sugar OS or the proprietary Microsoft Windows XP. Negroponte further said that "OLPC will sell Linux-only and dual-boot, and will not sell Windows-only ". OLPC released the first test firmware enabling XO-1 dual-boot on July 3, 2008.

I quit when Nicholas told me — and not just me — that learning was never part of the mission. The mission was, in his (Negroponte's) mind, always getting as many laptops as possible out there; to say anything about learning would be presumptuous, and so he doesn’t want OLPC to have a software team, a hardware team, or a deployment team going forward.

Other discussions question whether OLPC laptops should be designed to promote anonymity or to facilitate government tracking of stolen laptops. A recent New Scientist article critiqued Bitfrost's P_THEFT security option, which allows each laptop to be configured to transmit an individualized, non-repudiable digital signature to a central server at most once each day to remain functioning.

At The World Summit on the Information Society held by the United Nations in Tunisia from November 16-18, 2005, several African officials, most notably Marthe Dansokho of Cameroon and Mohammed Diop of Mali, voiced suspicions towards the motives of the OLPC project and claimed that the project was using an overly U.S. mindset that presented solutions not applicable to specifically African problems. Dansokho said the project demonstrated misplaced priorities, stating that clean water and schools were more important for African women, who, he stated, would not have time to use the computers to research new crops to grow. Diop specifically attacked the project as an attempt to exploit the governments of poor nations by making them pay for hundreds of millions of machines.

Lee Felsenstein, a computer engineer who played a central role in the development of the personal computer, criticized the centralized, top-down, design and distribution of the OLPC, calling it "imperialistic”.

John Wood, founder of Room to Read, emphasizes affordability and scalability over high-tech solutions. While in favor of the One Laptop per Child initiative for providing education to children in the developing world at a cheaper rate, he has pointed out that a $2,000 library can serve 400 children, costing just $5 a child to bring access to a wide range of books in the local languages (such as Khmer or Nepali) and English; also, a $10,000 school can serve 400–500 children ($20–$25 a child). According to Wood, these are more appropriate solutions for education in the dense forests of Vietnam or rural Cambodia.

The Scandinavian aid organization FAIR proposed setting up computer labs with recycled second-hand computers as a more economical alternative. Computer Aid International doubted the OLPC sales strategy would succeed, citing the "untested" nature of its technology. CAI refurbishes computers and printers and sends them to developing countries.

In 2005 and prior to the final design of the XO-1 hardware, OLPC received criticism due to concerns over the environmental and health impacts of hazardous materials found in other computers. The OLPC asserted that it aimed to use as many environmentally friendly materials as it could; that the laptop and all OLPC-supplied accessories would be fully compliant with the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS); and that the laptop would use an order of magnitude less power than the typical consumer notebooks available as of 2007 thus minimizing the environmental burden of power generation.

The XO-1 delivered (starting in 2007) uses environmental friendly materials, complies with the EU's RoHS and uses between 0.25 and 6.5 watts in operation. According to the Green Electronics Council's Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), whose sole purpose is assessing and measuring the impact laptops have on the environment, the XO is not only non-toxic and fully recyclable, they lasts longer, are lower cost and more energy efficient. The XO-1 is the first laptop to have been awarded an EPEAT Gold level rating.

Lagos Analysis Corp., also called Lancor, a Lagos, Nigeria-based company, sued OLPC in the end of 2007 for $20 million, claiming that the computer's keyboard design was stolen from a Lancor patented device. OLPC responded by claiming that they had not sold any multi-lingual keyboards in the design claimed by Lancor, and that Lancor had misrepresented and concealed material facts before the court. In October 2008, the Middlesex Superior Court granted OLPC’s motions to dismiss all of Lancor's claims against OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte, and Quanta.

India's Ministry of Human Resource Development, in June 2006, rejected the initiative, saying “it would be impossible to justify an expenditure of this scale on a debatable scheme when public funds continue to be in inadequate supply for well-established needs listed in different policy documents” and stated plans to make laptops at $10 each for schoolchildren. Two designs submitted to the Ministry from a final year engineering student of Vellore Institute of Technology and a researcher from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in May 2007 reportedly describe a laptop that could be produced for "$47 per laptop" for even small volumes. The Ministry announced in July, 2008 that the cost of their proposed "$10 laptop" would in fact be $100 by the time the laptop became available.

There are opinions that the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the laptops are too high. There is however a controversy about the right way to calculate these costs.

Sunnyside school district in Tucson raised money from private donors and will give free laptops to students that meet certain criteria. The program was planned for just freshmen at Sunnyside High School and Desert View High School, with an expected cost of $400,000. Finally $665,000 were raised, allowing the program to expand to sophomores, juniors and seniors at the two schools.

These captions visualize the run of OLPC Thailand pilot (Ban Samkha).

The XO band.

First encounter with the laptops.

Packing the laptop into bag.

Field research.

Parents are intrigued by the machine, especially with the video camera.

Students showing an XO to a local monk.

To the top



Source : Wikipedia