I was responsible for coming up with the Thoughts post over at Epiblogger last Wednesday. One of the things I put on the list was to talk about your newest gadget. I wanted to write this last week, but just never got around to it until today. We have a new gadget around our house. The One Laptop Per Child program that I donated to in December was part of the Give One Get One program. I am happy to say that we got ours here.
What a great little device! My son uses it most, but I have taken some time to get to know it and I am very impressed with the capabilities of that little machine. It easily recognized my wireless network and connected. I did a little work to get the full flash player installed so my son could play games at PBSKids (and I could watch YouTube videos), and I played around with the terminal.
I was impressed with the image quality of the built in camera. Here is a sample image from the camera of my son. I thought it turned out pretty good considering the price of the machine. I have seen expensive webcams with worse picture quality.
I like the web browser on the OLPC. It is based on Firefox, so it renders pages nicely. I also like the fact that you can use the controls at the sides of the screen to scroll the screen. I had no problem using Google Docs, Calendar, Reader and Gmail with it. Here is a quick little video of opening the browser and surfing to this blog.
Impressed as I am with the OLPC there are a couple of things that I just wished were different. The trackpad works well but I keep tapping on it to click. I am used to my laptop trackpad that has that. The keyboard is small. It is certainly made for kids. Watching my son use it it is perfect for him. So this is not a complaint because I understand that this machine is not meant for us big kids. Besides I was able to easily hook up a USB keyboard and type away. The game controls on the side are great, but I have not been able to find any games that my son can use them with. Perhaps I have not found the right place to look on the web. I liked using them to browse the web with but I could not find a way to click links with them. Maybe I just have not configured it right.
Overall I can see my son and daughter getting a lot of use out of the OLPC. It is nice to get an idea of the capabilities of the machine. I am sure they will serve the kids will in the parts of the world that get them. I hope they help in their education, I know it will help my children.