One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is unveiling two new low-cost tablets today that are designed around young children's education. Named the XO-2 and the XO-10, the tablets include 7-inch and 10-inch displays, respectively, along with Bluetooth, GPS, and a quad-core processor, making them some of the most capable hardware with OLPC's name on them. The tablets will be released this spring, with the XO-2 selling for $149.99 and the XO-10 selling for $199.99.
Both tablets have a soft and playful look on the outside
Both tablets have been customized with OLPC's educational software and distinctive green casing, but their hardware is actually produced by Vivitar. Neither tablet is particularly good looking up close, but they're cute enough on the outside — at least so long as you leave the case on.
But the real appeal of the XO-2 and XO-10 is what's on the inside. Their educational software appears bright and welcoming, and they're filled with apps developed specifically to help kids learn about math, science, and other subjects through the guise of teaching them about their dream career.
The tablets' main screens are filled with brightly colored circles, each representing a different profession for kids to learn about, from astronauts, scientists, and programmers to writers, musicians, and athletes. After tapping on one of them, a pane will slide out and display a list of apps that are focused on the subject. While it's the same software that OLPC included on previous tablets, it's been adding in new apps since the software's debut and is even launching an app store today, called the Dreams Store, that'll contain curated educational content.
Though OLPC's software is the first thing you'll see when the tablet turns on, Android and the Google Play Store are fully accessible behind it. The tablets are even running on KitKat, which is fairly surprising since low-cost hardware quite often debuts running older versions of Android.
Neither XO-2 we used performed particularly well though. While both tablets should be fine enough for educational purposes, don't plan on repurposing the tablet for playing Angry Birds or watching Netflix. Of course, doing that would be missing OLPC's point. As always, it's putting profits from the tablets it sells to consumers back to subsidizing the cost of the computers it sells to developing countries, where its educational software may help the most.