If you’re familiar with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, you may be surprised to hear that the company is in a new partnership with Walmart. The non-profit organization, normally known for its work bringing laptops to children in the developing world, will now be selling OLPC tablets at the largest retailer in the United States.
They haven’t completely dropped their original mission, though. According to ZDNet, the aim of bringing inexpensive devices to people who would otherwise be unable to access them is still a key priority. The XO Kid’s Tablet PC comes as a successor to last year’s XO 3.0, but this is the first time the tablet will be made available through a major national distributor.
And the potential to do good in the United States for children in low-income families is tremendous. Despite how reliant society has become on technology, there are still thousands of school children who don’t have access to a computer or tablet in their homes across Canada and the United States. With presence in communities across North America, Walmart has the potential to bring a low-cost device to children who would not otherwise have access, just like OLPC brings their computers and tablets to children in countries oversees.
Except the definition of ‘low-cost’ here is debatable.
Pre-orders are now open for the XO Kid’s Tablet PC on Walmart.com (currently only on the U.S. site) for $149, beginning shipment on August 1. While that might not seem like much in comparison to, say, an iPad, there are other Android-based tablets already on the market for that price or lower.
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The reason for the cost is two-fold: it comes bundled with 100 educational apps and books, which means you won’t be paying for separate cartridges like with other similar tablets on the market. The Leap Pad 2 tablet designed for kids, for example, has 325 cartridges and downloadable apps available, but none come with the device itself. Then again, it only costs $79 on Walmart.com.
The other reason the tablets are pricier is because the sale of them in the United States will help offset the cost of the OLPC program overseas, allowing the non-profit to continue bringing devices to children who would not otherwise have one.
Still, it’s a shame that the company hasn’t opened up that same opportunity to children in the United States. Instead these tablets are more like novelty items for the well-off kids who have multiple options for electronic devices. This isn’t a toy that low-income children will be making use of and learning from. It’s the toy that their wealthier friends will have, making the low-income children the have-nots yet again.
The 7-inch tablet first made an appearance at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show, running a 1.6GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. It also has front and rear cameras, HDMI out and runs Android 4.0, putting it on par with many other low-cost Android tablets currently available on the market.
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