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XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 08:57 PM EST

One of the happy buyers of a One Laptop Per Child XO laptop is Groklaw member Jerry van Baren. He asked me if it would be useful to show a comparison between the screen sizes and keyboards of the XO and the Asus Eee PC. I thought that was a grand idea, and now that there is the news that you guys in Australia will soon be able to buy the XO, it's timely. Some of you may be thinking about which one to buy.

So he took some pictures comparing sizes in general, then key sizes on the keyboards, with a ruler, and a shot of a regular-sized laptop keyboard to orient us, and then the screens. That was by far the biggest surprise -- the XO screen is so, so much larger. And the keyboards are not that different. They are both significantly different from a regular keyboard. That was the second surprise. He also shows a Nokia N800, for comparison, which is a web tablet in the form factor of a larger PDA, so you can see the various sizes of the screens. XO wins by a mile. He had a 12" Dell XPS M1210 and a Fujitsu P-2100 "ultraportable" on hand to use for keyboard comparison also.

His kids are having a ball with the XO, of course. But the graphics are useful for adults, and I think it's interesting. At least you can have this information while you consider your options. Of course, this means graphics, so if you are on dialup, be forewarned.

Size comparison

First, here are the three, the Asus Eee PC on the left, then the XO, and the Nokia N800 in front of the Eee PC. You can see not only the general size difference, but you can also compare the thickness:

As you can see, the OLPC and Eee PC are the same thicknesses at the back edge, but the Eee PC is slightly wedge-shaped where the OLPC's XO has the same thickness throughout.

Next, he stacks up the Nokia, the XO, and the Dell to give a general idea of sizes:

Next, let's look at the XO with the Asus Eee PC on top of it, with the back edges lined up, and the Nokia on top of the two, showing that the lid of the XO is about the same size as the Asus:

As you can see, the Asus Eee PC and the XO are, minus the handle on the XO, essentially the same size.

Comparing the screens:

First, let's compare the Dell, the Nokia, the Fujitsu and the XO:

On the left, you have the Dell in the back, with the Nokia in front of it. On the right, in the back, you have his "normal" laptop, a Fujitsu P-2100 "ultraportable", with the OLPC XO in front of it, to orient us as to relative sizes. This was taken before he had access to the Asus Eee PC.

So what about the Eee PC? In the next shot, the OLPC's XO, the Nokia, and the Eee PC are open and all three are displaying the same picture:

The screen of the OLPC is obviously larger (the Eee PC and N800 are 800x480, the OLPC screen resolution is 1200x900 native (B/W) and approximately 800x600 in sub-pixel sampling mode (color), all of which is hard to photograph unless you are a pro, and he says that there are jpg artifacts, which are not real, but you'll still get the idea. The Eee PC screen is so much smaller, tiny compared to the XO. It's a stunning difference.

As far as the color and overall screen, I'd suggest looking in real life before you decide, though, as these pictures are not professionally done, and I know from owning an XO that they don't do it justice, and that's likely true for the others as well. For that reason, I have placed the larger original graphic on this page, so you can download it for a better view, if you wish, without me loading the article down with such a large graphic. You'll see that the book the little girl fell asleep "reading" is about Engineering Formulas. The only graphic that I can read the title on is the XO. Here's a demonstration by a librarian on YouTube of the XO used as an ebook reader. She shows the screen resolution, which she calls mind-boggling. She does a second video, a review showing how to use the OLPC's features, and it's charming. If you are trying to figure yours out, this is the video for you. She expresses her appreciation to the Open Source community for their contribution to this laptop, which is of course ongoing, meaning it will continue to get better and better.

The little girl is Jerry's daughter when she was about two years old. It was not posed. She appropriated the book off his bookshelf, carried it around as "her" book, and "read" it every night in bed. One night she fell asleep with the book propped up. Jerry picked this picture to illustrate the color displays because it is one of his favorite pictures. It's adorable.

His impression of the XO display is that it is good, but the color saturation is slightly lower than the traditional color filter based LCDs. If you look closely, he says he can see the color stripes. I never noticed it, personally, so it's a question of what you care about, I'd say. He says he suspects this is a trade-off between power consumption and all-out color+resolution performance. In his opinion, it is a very acceptable trade-off, and the lower color saturation is not significant. A very good explanation of how the display works and why color resolution is hard to pin down can be found on the OLPC wiki.

What about black and white? Here only the XO can do it, so it's in a class of its own. Jerry told me, "I was not able to get a good black and white picture of the OLPC's screen, but its resolution in B/W mode is VERY impressive." I agree. It's very, very clear. Here. Take a look:

You can see a video of David Pogue of the New York Times on YouTube, and he shows the black and white view, along with demonstrating how sturdy the XO is. He drops it, someone throws water on it, he puts sand on it, etc. It's a very good demonstration of some things that the XO does best, particularly for children, who will do all that and probably more.

Comparing keyboards:

Let's start with his Dell, which has a normal-sized keyboard:

The four home row keys are almost 3", and you can see his fingers are able to relax naturally without cramping.

Here's the Eee PC:

Note that the home keys are 2.5" . So it's a real difference, and you can see it in the way his fingers have to squish together to hit the keys right. He found the Eee's keyboard to be just barely touch type-able, with a reduction, a substantial reduction, in speed and a high error rate. Practice would probably help, he says, but if you have large fingers, and touch typing matters to you, the Eee might not be for you. Here it is with the ruler:

What about the XO?

The keyboard is essentially the same size as the Asus Eee PC, but the XO has one more key than a "traditional" keyboard in the home row, which explains why the keys are packed together a tad tighter than the Eee PC, but not that much, despite it being designed for children, not adults. But touch typing is going to be a problem, unless you have very slender fingers.

Since writing that, I found a comment on an article about the XO, in which the writer says this:

I’ve been defending the XO vigorously since I received mine. Even though I’m a fat fingered adult (if someone wants to start a user group called the Fat Fingers please do so!) I find that I can still type at a decent speed. The hardware is a constant journey of joyful discovery for me. It took me all of one day to become comfortable with it.

I can’t understand the negative press that the blogosphere keeps dumping on the XO and OLPC. The machine is hands down the best laptop I’ve bought! I, too, would love to know where the one I gave went but I’m happy enough knowing that a child somewhere is sharing in the joy that the machine is giving me.

So I guess I'm not the only one who has noticed what seems very unbalanced coverage of the XO.

Here's a shot with the ruler, and you can see that the home key width is 2 1/8" from the edge of "A" to the edge of "G":

Isn't it interesting? What's the bottom line for me? That you can't pay attention to corporate PR. Look for yourself. There's been a lot of PR about the Asus Eee PC, but all I've mostly seen is complaints about the size of the XO. It's eye-opening.

What surprised me the most was the screen. I knew that the XO had a better screen than the Intel Classmate (you can compare them side by side in this YouTube video which is pushing the Classmate as booting slightly faster, but the screen comparison is devastating to the Classmate, in my view; here's a second one, perhaps even more clear), but the comparison Jerry shows between the XO and the Eee PC was unexpected. Also the keys on the keyboard of the Eee PC are a lot smaller than I expected. I knew the XO keys were small, because it was designed for children, including 5-year-olds (who are reportedly able to repair the laptops themselves, due to the design), so it was deliberate. Yet the difference between its size and the Asus EeePC was minimal. Yet the Eee PC *was* designed for adults (a reader reminds me it was first advertised for kids too), and people are raving about it, but if you have large fingers, you may find it not so useful for you. If you have slender fingers, you may be able to adjust. But that's true for the XO also.

So it's a personal decision, based on your own personal needs and wants. As you know, I'm not crazy about rewarding those trying to kill the OLPC project, and I lump the Asus Eee PC in that category, and I also won't personally buy any software from any company that does a patent deal with Microsoft. But I wanted to be fair and realistic. I know you may not feel the same, so this comparison will at least give you the overview of factors to consider if you are thinking of the Eee PC. I don't expect all humans on earth to think exactly as I do before we can be friends. And I also know most of Groklaw's readers immediately install something else anyway. Here's someone who just put Ubuntu on his.

So, it's a personal decision. Some of us really care about how much can fit on the screen. I'm like that. I care about that more than the size of the keys. But if I could only have one laptop, I'd care more. For others, someone who must type a lot and fast and has larger hands, for example, neither might suit and they might need to stick to a traditional laptop.

Our thanks go to Jerry and his lovely and brainy daughter for a memorable photograph. All the graphics are published under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license.

If you participated in the Get 1, Give 1 campaign in the US and would like to know where the laptops went, here's where they went first, to Mongolia. Enjoy the pictures. And if you are like me and want to know how to take it apart and put it back together again, this page on the OLPC Wiki is for you, along with the Repair Manual. Note the cautions, of course.


XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated | 378 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here please
Authored by: JamesK on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 09:15 PM EST
Post your errors if you find any.

May the source be with you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic
Authored by: JamesK on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 09:18 PM EST
No on topic stuff here please.

May the source be with you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

New Picks
Authored by: JamesK on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 09:19 PM EST
All the news that's fit to pick and then some.

May the source be with you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 09:42 PM EST
To be honest the photo of the keyboards make the XO look a lot smaller. It
isn't just a little bit smaller.

But it is designed for kids, of course.

Be interesting to see other comparisons - robustness, battery life, etc.

I hope they're a reasonable price in $AUS - with our relatively high dollar of
late we've been really ripped off with most tech.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 09:51 PM EST
Kind of silly to compare them, when you can only actually get an Asus.

3 1/2 weeks ago, a lady on the phone there told me my XO was there but they were
waiting on UPS to pick it up. Now they say they don't have any left and they
might get shipped this March. Not complaining or anything, just comparing the


[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens
Authored by: josmith42 on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 10:12 PM EST

I am insanely jealous of anybody who has already gotten their XO! My wife is making fun of me for pining after it so. She thinks that I'm a big dork for reading a website that shows photographs measuring the keyboard of the XO. (I promptly reminded her that she subscribes to The Economist and enjoys reading it.)

This comment was typed using the Dvorak keyboard layout. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Photography tips
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 10:23 PM EST
The way to photograph things like that is to turn off the flash and use a
support for the camera. You can't take a useful photograph of a light-emitting
object with flash and a short exposure.

If you need to use flash to show the entire machine, use manual exposure (spot
metering on the display, and using fill flash) if you have an SLR, or night mode
with flash (if you have a point and shoot).

-- Robert Krawitz

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens
Authored by: pdp on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 10:30 PM EST
Any comparision is useless,unless the comparator is a child and it compares its
prima-facie useability.
So far the XO seems to get the major things done whithout lenghty courses.

The G1G1-action should be opened to anyone in the world who can painlessly
afford the approx $400.
(which would be about anyone who _can afford_ a creditcard)


(defvar MyComputer '((OS ."GNU/Emacs") (IPL ."GNU/Linux")))
I am not a number, I am a individual with a unique number

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 11:40 PM EST
Has Asus actually done something to "try to kill the OLPC project"? If
so, what? Merely releasing a commercial small-formfactor machine clearly does
not qualify.

I'm interested because I am considering buying a small laptop. I'm not a child,
so I am not likely to buy an XO (though I strongly support the project and its
goals). The Asus seems like a viable option, but I have not really started to
look into it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 12:28 AM EST
This comparison between a mini-laptop designed for children and one for adults
makes me wonder what the machines Mary Lou's new company is going to produce
will look like. I understand they will be for adults, but use a lot of the
technology from the XO. My wish would be for an adult-sized keyboard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Keyboards and Laptops
Authored by: iceworm on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 02:20 AM EST

My experience with laptops extends back to the time in the late 1980's (1989 I think) when I bought a Kaypro 2000. It was a DOS machine with no hard drive. Then there was a 486 machine whose name I can't remember that did have a hard drive with a wopping 80MB. I traded it off for a tower to a friend who was going to be traveling. Then in 1999 I got a Sony Vaio PCG-F250 which I still have. My (luggable) laptop is now an HP Pavilion zv6000 series (using the lshw utility reports ZV6100, and there was a sticker with zv6201cl on it).

As an experiment I set up my two laptops, one on either side of the keboard (Model M manufactured by IBM United Kingdom Limited, in Greenock, Scotland, UK, dated 17-09-96) connected to my tower here at home. I took a measurement similar to the ASDF measurement. Instead of measuring from the edge of the skirt of the key, I measured from the edge of the sculpted portion of the keytops because this is what my fingers feel when they do the walking.

Surprisingly or perhaps not, these three keyboards have the same ASDF measurement, namely: 2 and 3/4 inches plus a smidgen. Compared to the Model M, the two laptop keyboards are not sculpted as much, and the HP seems to be sculpted slightly less than the Sony. Now I know why I hate to have to use the HP keyboard compared with just not being pleased with the Sony (HP do you read me?).

I learned to touch type on a mechanical portable typewriter in the late 50's. Then in the early 60's, I did two years in an US Army Education Center as a clerk-typist and taught typing in the evening on heavy mechanical typewriters of the day. Later on, as an Amateur Radio Operator (KL7FHX) with an interest in radio teletype, I acquired a Model 19, and a couple of Model 15's with keyboards and learned how to touch type properly on these long stroke keyboards.

I got my first Osborne I in December of 1981. I began to experience the difference between mechanical typewriters and keyboards attached to computers. I took a course or two at the local university which gave me access to the shared computer on campus. At first there were ASR 32 (a modern teletype machine) which made me feel at home, but then came the PC clones with the crappy keyboards. I some how missed the IBM Model M in 1984 or 1985, but I discovered the wonder of the Model M in about 1998 when I was given a two that were on the way to the dump. Since then, I have purchased two newly manufactured Model M's from Unicomp. For me, the Model M is the standard against which I compare all other keyboards.

I just recently came into possession of a pair of Model M's. After giving them a good cleaning, I installed one in place of the squishy keyboard on my Internet server. I purchased an (active) USB to dual PS/2 converter (not just a rewire job) so I can connect this other Model M and my Logitech Marble Mouse (trackball) to a USB port on any computer including my HP when I have to do some serious typing. Yes, I am quite finicky about my keyboard.

Good review and comparison, thanks PJ and Jerry.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Your text and the pictures don't agree
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 02:54 AM EST

The screen of the OLPC is obviously larger

Huh? Are you looking at the same picture? The screen of the OLPC is obviously SMALLER than the screen of the Asus. The case is about the same size, and the OLPC has a bigger plastic border surrounding the screen, so the screen is smaller.

[ Reply to This | # ]

EEE *WAS* designed for kids
Authored by: A Nonny Mouse on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 03:03 AM EST
The EEE was designed for kids

Here in the UK the initial markets were educational computer suppliers and Toys
'R' Us. It is supposed to be a machine kids can do homework, email and web
surfing on.

The fact that adults rave it about it and cause a shortage is incidental and has
changed its market considerably.

So pointing out a small keyboard on the EEE and claiming it goes against an
adult market is unfair.

I have one. It replaced my former drag around laptop which had Vista Ultimate
and Office 2007 Ultimate which I gave to my parents as part of their Christmas.
I know have a £220 (~$400) machine that replaces one that had a retail value of
about £1800 (~$3400) 3/4 of which was the cost of software licences.

I like my EEE. I would loved to have bought an XO under the G1G1 scheme but
couldn't. I have a need for s small portable laptop for writing and checking
email on the hoof.

I actually wrote a presentation for a recent job interview mostly using OOO
Impress and my EEE. It's a usable machine, and it doesn't look like I am
carrying a laptop.

I actually reverted to the easy mode as it does most of what I use, though I can
break back into a full desktop whenever I want.

The XO seems a marvel of appropriate tech compared to my more traditional EEE,
and may well change how similar devices are designed in the future for the world
outside its intended destination.

Both these machines have one good side effect, acceptance of Linux in the real
world, and both should be commended for that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

another review, by notebookreview
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 04:30 AM EST
Here is another review by notebookreview:

'They summarize: "As a cheap notebook for children to use who have no other
prior computer experience this notebook is designed and built very well. It is
extremely rugged, offers a simple repair solution, and has incredibly simple to
use software. For power users this notebook should not be considered. It runs
about as fast as a 4-5 year old notebook, can't properly render most webpages,
and lacks software that many advanced users would need.

Don't get me wrong, it is fine for a child, but don't expect to take this
notebook as a replacement for your work machine on vacation anytime soon.

Pros: Very durable, Sunlight readable display, Has spare parts inside!, Cons:
Very slow, Heavy in comparison to other similar sized notebooks'

Not too bad.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Actually, the EeePC runs Limux
Authored by: TAZ6416 on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 04:45 AM EST
I was delighted to see this big display for the EeePC in my local Toys R US - Picture 1

Unfortunately the signmakers need a good proofreader - Picture 2


[ Reply to This | # ]

Is Eee a direct competitor to XO?
Authored by: TerryC on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 05:17 AM EST
PJ says:

As you know, I'm not crazy about rewarding those trying to kill the OLPC project, and I lump the Asus Eee PC in that category, and I also won't personally buy any software from any company that does a patent deal with Microsoft.

I agree with you're second, but not necessarily with your first.  When the Eee first gained publicity, I thought it was aimed at adults.  I didn't get an inkling of it's true target until I noticed that Toys R Us here in the UK were selling it (and out of stock).  There are certainly plenty of people buying it for adult use (see Stephen Fry link in OT).

Even so, Asus are obviously  going for the parents of western kids, not the education departments of underprivileged nations, so it doesn't directly compete with the XO as the Classmate does.

As long  as they stick with that, I think it's a good thing, since it will expose our kids to FLOSS early in their lives.


Just think; if Microsoft added 'You hereby grant us a license to print money' to their EULA, it wouldn't change it's meaning a bit.


[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: Tsu Dho Nimh on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 06:23 AM EST

Looking at the keyboard ... it probably makes a difference that the XO's keys have a distinct separation between them instead of being contiguous. It would make fat-fingering the edge of one key as you press the next a bit harder to do.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Screen comparison photo is biased
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 07:28 AM EST
I can see that the XO screen is larger, but saying that they are
"displaying the same picture" is erroneous. The XO is displaying the
picture in close to full screen mode, with just a window border around it. The
"same picture" on the ASUS is being shown in "Preview mode"
where you still have a large part of the screen being taken up by the Windows
Explorer window, including the left hand navigation pane.

From a cursory viewing, the XO is using approximately 75 to 80 percent of the
screen to display the picture while the ASUS is using about 40 percent of its
screen to display the "same" picture. This could be construed by some
as biased reporting.

Could he submit a new picture showing the same picture in full screen mode side
by side on the two machines so that a better comparison can be made?

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC vs the others
Authored by: mikeprotts on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 07:28 AM EST
My opinion on the merits of various machine types in education. I'm in the UK
and don't have access to an XO, so I can't really give a proper opinion on that.
From the OS view, is it worse to buy an Asus eeepc or a cheap full size laptop
with Windows? If you have to buy a low cost portable machine in the UK, what is
the choice?

Asus eeepc.
This is a good technical compromise. The screen is good enough for most
purposes and the size & weight are brilliant. Battery life is good
(compared with high end full size laptop). Price in UK is also good. I would
be happy to see a machine like this available for all secondary (11-18) or
university students in the UK. For normal word processing and simple drawing
performance is fine.

There are issues though, the machine is not 'tough', it has open holes that
would be likely to see water damage if used in primary (5 to 11) or earlier. it
probably can't take too many drops. The battery is likely to not quite last a
full school day, and obviously has a limited lifespan. The touchpad is not good
for drawing. This restricts the usefulness to younger children, so I would be
less confident of providing one to all primary children.

Normal laptop is perfect for everyday use. The screen is brilliant, and the
machine is fast. The keyboard is easy to use, the touchpad or toggle pointer
give a choice of mouse method. Battery life is what you pay for.

The downsides are the same as the Asus eeepc, with the additional problems of
cost and weight. When the prices is low the battery life is very poor, to
achive a full school day you pay a lot of money. They are even more prone to
damage and I can imagine that there would be a high failure rate if commonly
provided to pupils.

PDA (palm/wince/linux)
A PDA is a usefult tool as an alternative to a diary, but without a reasonable
size keyboard they are limited for normal use. With a keyboard, the basic word
processing and drawing are OK, and this could be a realistic alternative to the
eeepc. Battery life & weight are good and they are typically tougher than a
laptop. I think the only reason these have not taken off more is the
combination of lack of keyboard and screenbeing a bit too small. The old Psion
organisers were similar to the eeepc concept, but were too expensive. Using a
palm od wince PDA with an external keyboard would come close, but is less

Not taking machine (alphasmart)
These provide a good compromise for portability, but screen is limited
(typically a few lines of text) and they are not useful standalone as they need
to be attached to a computer for later editing and printing. The cost/benefit
compared with the eeepc or XO is limited, so the technology is probably more or
less superceded.


[ Reply to This | # ]

The third device, and its successor
Authored by: tz on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 08:48 AM EST
The Nokia n800 depicted there also runs a tabletized version of Linux. There
are a few proprietary drivers, but at, you can get and build
everything. It uses an ARM processor and the battery life is probably greater
than the EEE or the XO. I have both it (running 20Gb internal via SD cards) and
its successor, the n810 which has a transflective screen (sunlight readable),
built-in GPS, and slide the display to reveal a thumb-board. And a few other
things like a key/screen lock so it won't accidentally think it is being
activated in your pocket.

But it is a full Linux device - though with an ARM processor. I've been
attaching thumbdrives and hard drives, bluetooth keyboards and headsets, and
many other things as well as writing programs. And doing SIP VoIP calls (it
also has Skype). And I've loaded Gnumeric, and I think Abiword is available.
The Browser is mozilla modified for the platform AND INCLUDES ADOBE FLASH FOR
YOUTUBE AND NAVIGATION and the media player is quite good.

(Note, I often download podcasts, something I can't do with the iPod touch or

My small ubuntu laptop (about 1.5x the EEE, a small Averatec) is rarely turned
on anuymore since I can do most things from the n810. And it is killing my iPod
too since the media player is more than good enough not to need the second

I was reading this article complete with pictures on it. The other two don't
fit into my pocket.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC - Limited
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 08:49 AM EST
Both have their limitations. Compromises are made for their intended

I would prefer a MacBook Air to either one if picking a limited computer, for
my purposes - which may not be yours.

The Asus EeePC is the computer I would chose as an adult. It looks better. It

looks more like a modern laptop. The XO looks like a kid's toy.

Perhaps if they would change the color scheme, it would make it more

The keyboard is designed for ruggedness. But its too small. A full-sized
keyboard such as on the MacBook Air would have been far preferable. I think
laptop designers should once again copy Apple.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO Delivery Delays
Authored by: n8ur on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 08:50 AM EST
For what it's worth, I ordered an XO via the give-1-get-1 program, back in early
December. The first confirmation I got said that my unit would ship in the
first half of January.

I've gotten follow-up emails regularly, pushing the delivery date back. The
most recent one, last week, said 45-60 days from now. They did offer the
opportunity to cancel if I wanted.

I'm willing to wait, and it's a good sign that the things are so popular, but
the anticipation is killing me...


[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 09:30 AM EST
A bit old but fitting.
From Mon 28 Jan 2008

What was the best selling laptop for the weekend [Jan 26-27]?

If you guessed Mac AirBook.....your wrong.

Read it here:

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hard numbers
Authored by: sk43 on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 10:02 AM EST
Here are the published specs for the XO and the eee PC. The eee PC comes in 4
models; I give the ones for the 4G model, which seems to be the most popular
(according to Amazon) and retails for $400US. [Caveat - published specs can
have errors].

First, the XO:

# Processor: 433MHz AMD Geode
# Display: 7.5" LCD 1200x900 (black and white)/800x600 (color)
# RAM: 256MB DDR333
# HD/Storage: 1GB Flash w/ SD Expansion slot
# Wireless: 802.11b/g and 802.11s Mesh
# Ports: 3 USB, Headphone, Microphone
# Battery: 3.1Ah 6.5v
# AC Adapter: 12v @1.42A, 100-240v switching
# Dimensions: 9.52 x 8.97 x 1.26"
# Weight: 3lbs 2.2oz

Next, the eee PC 4G:

# Processor: 900 Mhz Intel Celeron
# Display: 7" LCD 800x480 (color)
# RAM: 512MB DDR2
# HD/Storage: 4GB Flash w/ SD Expansion slot
# Wireless: 802.11b/g
# Ports: 3 USB, Headphone, Microphone, VGA out, 100 Mbs ethernet
# Battery: 5.2Ah
# AC Adapter: yes [specs not available]
# Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.5 x 1.4"
# Weight: 2 lbs

Both come with a built-in webcam.

Based on these numbers, we can note:

1. The ASUS overall is smaller and lighter than the XO
2. The XO screen is, indeed, larger.
3. The ASUS is higher performance in processor speed, memory, and disk storage.

Based on anecdotal reports, the XO appears to get better battery life.

Conclusions: None, really. Every laptop design involves tradeoffs and
compromises in features. Even small differences in features can be a deal
maker/breaker for someone.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why the bad attitude towards the Eee PC?
Authored by: DannyB on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 10:11 AM EST
I see some comments that have me puzzled.

I got an Eee PC for Christmas. I have enjoyed it tremendously. I don't think I
would trade it for an OLPC XO.

I have nothing against the XO. I wish it every success. I am dismayed at how
Microsoft and Intel are waging a dirty fight against the XO. The XO is
amazingly well designed for its target audience. Low power, portable, rugged,
inexpensive, alternate power, mesh networking, software that does not require
literacy, and on and on. Best of all, it runs Linux which makes it a cousin of
every system I have.

That said, I would be very self conscious about having an OLPC. The Eee PC
looks like a grown-up laptop. I have done lots with it so far. Customized the
OS. Built a couple alternate Linux OSes on SDHC card and booted those. Built
bootable Backtrack 3 on USB stick and played with that on my Eee PC. (This
combination is rightfully called: The hacker's swiss army knife.)

Again, nothing against the XO. If Asus had not made the Eee PC, I probably
would have gotten an XO, or maybe a Nokia 800 (not the 810).

But I am still puzzled at some of the negative attitude towards the Eee, by
people who probably don't have one. The Eee isn't perfect either. But it is a
fantastic, PC-compatible, system for under $400. This makes it drop dead easy
to try gobs of Linux distributions.

The price of freedom is eternal litigation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: tangomike on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 11:12 AM EST
I don't have an eee pc, but I have received one (of two) XO's about three weeks
ago. The XO hardware is a tour de force design for messy environments and use by
young kids. Sugar, the user interface, is remarkable as a tool set for learning
about the world. It's not going to teach users much about using any Microsoft,
GNULinux, or Apple computer. In fact, I found my long-time computer skills
mostly get in the way. So, I have loaded XFCE4 onto it, which makes it a pretty
peppy 'conventional' laptop/palmtop. This is in no way a criticism of Sugar.

I'm a hunt and peck typist. I find the keyboard usable. The screen is stunning
compared to my Dell and IBM laptops, and my Nokia 800. Using it in bright sun,
or light rain, is fine. The power consumption vs weight makes the XO more
practical than my other machines.

I bought the XOs for two reasons: I'm a geek interested in the technology, and
giving XOs to kids somewhere is a huge boost for them so I'm glad to do it.

I'm still considering an eee pc for my own use, but I really doubt a kid in the
Andes would be as well off with one as they will be with the XO.

Deja moo - I've heard that bull before.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Asus EeePC: Long term impressions
Authored by: tangomike on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 11:45 AM EST
Here's someone's opinion about the eee-pc:

in this review

Deja moo - I've heard that bull before.

[ Reply to This | # ]

When can Europeans get hold of one?
Authored by: gotan on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 11:48 AM EST
I have been umming and ahhing about buying an EEE PC, mostly because there seems
to be the proverbial snowballs chance in hell of getting hold of an OLPC if
you're a normal consumer outside of the states.
Now that Oz is getting them, is there any news as to when Europeans can
legitimately buy them?

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Has anyone here tried out the XO-LiveCD?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 01:17 PM EST
I am typing this from a running XO-LiveCD and it is really cool.

If you don't have the OLPC XO yet, you should give this one a spin to see how
you like the interface.

Just Google "XO-LiveCD" if you are interested.

I see quite a few *XO* users in the neighborhood. I only had a chat with one
fellow and he is also an XO-LiveCD user :)

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: Ruidh on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 01:37 PM EST
I have one of each, both are proving problematic in our house.

One key application, as far as my daughter is concerned, is Ganz Webkin World
website. This flash intensive site puts both machines to the test. I've
researched this online and come up with some fixes and workarounds for both
units, but the result is far from ideal.

You can install the latest version of Flash on the XO. Doing so lets you get
into the site, but the flash games are too slow to be usable. There's one
possible workaround I;m still researching which would be to actually modify the
flash .so file to reduce the default video performance.

On the Eee, the screen is too small to be really usable for this site. the
processor is fast enough to keep up, but the 800x480 screen doesn't show enough
of the arcade games.

These are both very interesting devices, but I caution people to make sure that
they will accomplish the tasks the uses want them for.

All my comments on this site are licensed under a Creative Commons License.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Perhaps the future is brighter for the EEE
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 02:57 PM EST
Every indicator is that Asus will support the eee with new models every 6
months. Expect the OLPC to do the same?

The process which a for-profit uses
to move forward on new models (hardware, not software) should pretty much kill
the XO in a year or two.

Meanwhile ASUS continues to eat their lunch, so to

Full disclosure, I have 1 EEE(black) and Asus, if you read this page,
let me know when you deliver an eee with decent size shift key on the right
side. (Just hack off a bit of the left shift key and put it on the right, thank
you very much.)

Did I mention the Asus's come in multiple colors, almost

[ Reply to This | # ]

A friend got one for her young son
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 03:12 PM EST
She doesn't even know what Linux is but thought the idea of "buy one -
donate one" was great and received the unit last week. She and her 4 year
old absolutely love the thing and he brings it to daycare every day.

These people are not computer geeks, they are everyday consumers who know
nothing about operating systems. They do not want a computer to be fragile and
overly complicated, they want it to be robust and usable.

What I am hearing is that the XO is a winner.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: Alan(UK) on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 05:25 PM EST
The trouble with Groklaw is that it is a meeting place for adults, not

Adults look at the keyboard and wonder if they can touch type on it, then they
wonder if children with their smaller fingers will be able to touch type. Yes,
children do have little fingers, but they get them into everything, touching,
probing, trying everything out. What they will not do is to sit in front of OLPC
and complain that the keyboard is unusable because they cannot fit their fingers
onto the home keys.

The irony is that typists have worked out the best way to type on a keyboard
that has its keys positioned to suit the mechanical layout of a manual
typewriter. Now adults are complaining that the same method does not work on a
keyboard with different constraints.

The OLPC is FAR more powerful than anything that my children had. I am sure any
child in the third world would be just as delighted if he could model a sphere,
wrap a Mercator projection map around it, project the map back onto the sphere,
then set his globe spinning - even if it does take all night to render. Likewise
he would be delighted if he could publish his own magazine using contributions
from his friends. Or perhaps write a program for a working 3-D Rubik's cube.

If OLPC is a failure, it will be because adults say that everything should be
done how they do it. "Write your essay on paper first, then type it
up." "You must learn your multiplication tables before you can start
any other mathematics." "You are only allowed to use your computer
after you have finished your school work."

Microsoft is nailing up its own coffin from the inside.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Interesting problem putting Kubuntu on to Asus EeePC
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 05:26 PM EST
Been meaning to do this for a while, but tonight is my first free evening. Anyway, the instructions for Ubuntu, following PJ's link, work, but a long-standing weakness of Kubuntu, excessively large windows for some menus, mean that the answer to the first question it asks is off the bottom of the screen, and inaccessible, since at that time there is only a basic framebuffer, and it does not want to take keyboard input.

So I guess I will need the alternate CD which installs in text mode.

I note a minor annoyance of the Eee, it needs the hard drives to be swapped around in the BIOS, not the boot order as normal, to get it to boot from the USB stick, and it reverts to booting from the flash disk after the first successful boot. No doubt all designed so that people will stick with the Xandros derivative, (or is it Linspire, I can't remember, but both have similar M$ patent problems!). Ugh!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Prior Art - 1980's Radio Shack Pocket Computer
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 06:47 PM EST
Since "Prior Art" is an important tool here, just check the following SMALL FORMS :

1980's ( I had one) CLICKY

or 1993's CLACKY

or now: CLOCKY


N.B. The comparison shown on this page is not "quite" up to Consumers Reports "standards". Using 3D pictures (perspective) to compare the physical shape and/or size is a very odd way to compare 2 or 3 objects

[ Reply to This | # ]

Charity, laptops and the eee PC.
Authored by: rfrazier on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 07:13 PM EST
When I give to charity, I don't do it via buying some goodie, be it a concert
ticket, food, lottery tickets, or a laptop. I try to do it anonymously and in
cash (otherwise they hound you), although, sometimes, it is only possible to use
a cheque.

When it comes to goodies (or non-goodies,like computers, which are also tools),
if I'm going to buy one for me, I want one that reflects my preferences.

In this case, I wouldn't have bought a XO, since it isn't what I want. I did
buy an EEE PC, since it is better for what I want (mostly size, and reasonable
CPU/Memory -- I put in 1GB of memory). I use it a lot, mostly because I can
carry it with me without much penalty, and I can touch type on the keyboard.
(Although I agree with others' comments concerning the right shift, and also
think that the ctrl/fn keys should be transposed.)

I was also pleased that it came with linux, since, as long as linux has been
available, the first thing I've done with a new computer is reformat and put it
on, and the eee came with linux installed (even if the installed version is a
bit dodgy). (I've never even used MSWindows or MSDOS, and I've been using
micro computers since the early 80s, starting with the original KayPro. Before
linux I used CP/M, and then ZCPR, which is like CP/M, but with wheels. More
recently, I've not been using laptops, and have been using computers made from
bits and bobs, avoiding the MS tax.)

So, I make my judgements about computers based on the qualities of the computers
(perhaps also excluding really nasty firms), and my judgements about the
charities to which I contribute based on the qualities of the charities. In the
case of the XO, it might have been that the judgement about the computer
overlapped with the judgement about the charity, but they didn't.

Best wishes,

[ Reply to This | # ]

Screen comparison
Authored by: Quila on Monday, February 04 2008 @ 09:11 PM EST
It's hard to compare the two since they use completely different technologies,
and sub-pixel rendering doesn't quite describe the XO's color correctly.

The EPC has a normal LCD, vertical stripes of red, green and blue (the
sub-pixels) for each stated pixel. Which ones are on at which levels determines
the color of the pixel, or color rendition can be sacrificed by turning the
sub-pixels on or off for increased resolution.

The XO has a grid of individual round pixels, packing four of them in the space
of a normal LCD pixel, with stripes of different colors alternating diagonally.
This is your 1200x900 native resolution. Color is achieved by grouping these
pixels and using the backlight and a mesh screen.

IOW, native mode on the OLPC *is* sub-pixel mode. Color mode is what would be
"normal mode" for a regular LCD. The equivalent XO "native
mode" on the EPC would be 2400x480.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Meanwhile, on the desktop...
Authored by: argee on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 03:22 AM EST
I see that Dell has the sexiest machine around, the XPS ONE,
the all-in-one with 20" screen, no box, all wireless, just
a power cord.

Lovely...except... can I run Ubuntu/Kubuntu on it? I googled
for the hint, but no dice and I am a bit reluctant to plop down a couple big
ones before finding out.

Also, can I get a discount/rebate/refund on all that Microsoft
stuff comes with it? Useless, of course.


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • refund - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 07:02 AM EST
    • Buy in France - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 03:23 PM EST
  • argee - Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 10:32 PM EST
Another possibel use that I think the XO would excel at
Authored by: globularity on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 06:43 AM EST
The XO would make a good front end for programming PLC's and industrial
controls, in an industrial environment.

It's small size with excellent B/W resolution and inbuilt case and carrying
handle would make it just the thing to sit in a control cabinet and make
alterations to some system parameters. And given the presence of oil and the
fair chance of dropping such a unit it is even better suited.

Not much Linux open source software to program PLC's unfortunately so the clunky
laptop or dedicated programmer with a 2 line screen survives for a bit longer.

Windows vista, a marriage between operating system and trojan horse.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Just remember that the EEE is raising the profile of Linux and ODF
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 07:26 AM EST

The EEEs seem to have been a huge commercial success, particularly over the Christmas period. Consequently, thousands of people are now discovering that they don't need Windows Vista or MS Office to surf the web, read EMAIL, watch videos or open the majority of Office documents.

Please don't throw this baby out with the bathwater because you believe that the OLPC is so noble that it should be above criticism and immune from fair competition.

Now, it looks pretty clear that the XO is far more innovative than the EEE (novel screen technology, low power consumption, user serviceable, mesh networking, back-to-the-drawing-board user interface) and better suited for the developing world applications for which it was designed. However, it may be that the EEE is better suited to first-world customers who need something a bit less radical that doesn't involve unlearning their Windows/Mac skills. Of course, that whole point is moot because most first- world customers simply don't have the choice as long as the XO is not a available as consumer product (a few time-and-geography-limited G1G1 schemes don't change this).

As for the "unbalanced coverage of the XO" - all the reviews of the EEE that I've seen, although generally positive, have raised issues about screen, keyboard size and battery life E.g. he re (the same site has a fairly balanced revie w of the XO - there's criticism there, but reasoned, and plenty of praise too).

If there are less informed "hands-on" reviews of the XO than the EEE it might simply reflect that the EEE is being aggressively marketed in the "first world" - with review models and glossy press releases being sent to journalists who write for "buyers guide"-style reviews. The XO, however, only gets an informed write-up when a journalist or blogger takes it upon themselves to buy one though the G1G1 scheme.

Now, using dirty tricks and FUD to "steal" developing world contracts from OLPC is fair cause for criticism, but has Asus actually done this or is it simply guilt by association? Simply offering a competing product is neither FUD or dirty tricks - and the government officials being courted are certainly not ignorant peasants who can't make an informed decision.

Likewise, its a pity that Xandros has signed up to a MS patent deal, but when people are intimidated into paying protection money I'm inclined to punish the gangsters, not their victims.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: mrmot on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 09:46 AM EST
"I wanted to be fair and realistic" -- kid me not!

1) showing the same photo on three screens where different screens have
different amount of real estate showing other stuff apart from the photo: Nokia
-- none at all; XO -- a little bit; Asus -- at least 25%, if not 33% percent.
Verdict: Asus screen is soooo much smaller than XO.

2) showing the same set of fingers over three different keyboards: Dell -- the
tips over pretty much the centre of all four keys; Asus -- pretty much the same;
XO -- fingers overflowing to the right of three out of four keys. Verdict: Asus
and XO have pretty much the same keyboards.

3) comparing size: if we disregard the handle, Asus and XO are pretty much the
same size -- disregarding 2 inches of handle and XO being thicker.

Come on!

I am all for cheap/free laptops for 3rd world, and I even think XO is the one to
go for in that respect, but that's no reason to slag off a perfectly good
product. They have different target audiences. This article was one of only very
few that went so far as to claim the target audience for Asus and XO is the
same. If they are, that's only to Asus's credit. And again: for 3rd world XO is
way better, being crank-powered, ruggedised and water-proof.

This article is just the last straw that made me sure Groklaw has lost it's
direction. Not surprising really as its reason d'etre has gone south together
with SCO. You're trying too hard to stay relevant...

Anyway, glad to have removed Groklaw form the list of my RSS feeds a few weeks

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Delivering the promise
Authored by: Thomas Downing on Tuesday, February 05 2008 @ 10:22 AM EST
I have no doubts that the XO can deliver on the promise of
getting usable and useful educational tools to children
around the world. I am a big believer.

I am worried about the ability of the OLPC project to
deliver smoothly.

There is NO competition for the XO within it's stated
goals and purposes, but there is competition in delivery.
Here's one place where the XO killers can gain an edge.

The OLPC folks are talking about doing a Give One Get One
program in Europe, in Australia. I think this is
premature. While they gain donations in this way, they
may also be harming themselves in the delivery area. It
is no secret that the delays in the US program are
growing. (I got an email the last week of January telling
me that my XO had shipped. I now find that it won't ship
till the last week of March at the earliest.)

Starting another G1G1 when they have not yet been able to
handle the old one seems risky. I want an XO primarily
for ONE purpose: to use it to excite others so that they
might also contribute to the project. This sort of
grass-roots endeavor relies to a some extent on the
perception of the organizations ability to deliver, as
well as on the XO itself.

Please understand that this is not a gripe post (well,
maybe a little :-), but an observation that I have also
made to OLPC directly. I wish there was some way to help
them with this problem, but baring having enough money to
give to allow them to double their production and deliver
capacity, I don't know what I can do.

Thomas Downing
Principal Member Technical Staff
IPC Information Systems, Inc.

[ Reply to This | # ]

XO and Asus EeePC: Comparing Size, Keyboards & Screens - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 06 2008 @ 12:18 PM EST
No screen comparison photos?

[ Reply to This | # ]

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