This weekend, 4 of us played with 2 gadgets that are intended to establish new market niches and which embrace “openness”: the XO (aka OLPC, a tiny laptop for developing-world kids) and the Chumby (a tiny wifi-enabled Linux box intended to compete with clock radios).
My blog post “The Chumby Is a Waste of Money” is coming soon, but I have to admit that watching the Worcester Commons webcam on this thing was pure fun.
Whatever the faults of OLPC’s strategy, their project already seems to have scared for-profit companies into making laptops for developing-world kids. And boy, the XO is a sweet piece of hardware: playing with it, I got the same thrill as when I first used the Wii and iPhone.
Odd UI: A big plus, in my book. What’s life without challenges?
Interesting apps: Two friends, much less geeky than I, had great fun seeing what they could get this thing to do. If there’s a fine line between confusing and intriguing, this is on the right side of that line.
Durable: I’m very hard on gadgets, so I love the solid feel of the XO. This is the only laptop I’d be comfortable using as a club or cutting board.
Cute as heck: Your iPhone will look sleek this year, old-fashioned next year. A thing of cuteness is cute forever.