Examining the XO Activities and Durability
Having thrown around a few initial impressions about the OLPC XOs, I thought I would take a more in-depth look at the user interface and some of the activities kids can engage in. And I have a couple of comments about their durability and adjustable screens.
Before I get into the Sugar user interface and activities, I'd like to revisit the issue of using the XOs outside, as well as talk about their durability. I took my XO outside in direct sunlight at high Noon, and read a colorful PDF file with no problems. The screen switches from color mode to black and white mode automatically. Or at least, I didn't do anything special to adjust the screen. I did get glare when I adjusted the screen to catch the sun head-on, but my assumption is that most students will probably adjust their screen so that there is no glare. Actually, even with some glare, I could read the text fairly easily.
As for their durability, I decided to abuse mine a little bit. I wasn't willing to risk damaging the machine outright, as I still have to work with a handful of children. That means I need a working machine. Still, a 30" drop from my dining room table onto a carpeted floor is a little risky. With the laptop opened up, ears extended, I gave it a bit of a nudge. I watched as it hit and tumbled. It fell screen-first, with the ears simply folding up as they hit the floor. Nothing broke. The screen did not even blink. I just picked it up and kept working. I also did it while it was turned off and closed up. It booted up just fine. If you're interested in supplying some of these for more serious crash testing, I'll be happy to put them through the ringer.