Reshaping the PC

[intro]A scheme to bring PCs to the poorest parts of the world could change face of computing forever[/intro]The One Laptop Per Child initiative fr

[intro]A scheme to bring PCs to the poorest parts of the world could change face of computing forever[/intro]The One Laptop Per Child initiative from MIT isn't just worthy - it's revolutionary. The idea is to create a simple laptop that can be sold for less than $100, and the first sightings of the hardware suggest we could be in for something special. For a start, the first machines, dubbed XO,  bear an uncanny resemblance to the original 'toilet seat' iBooks – rugged student laptops that I loved, even if nobody else did. But more importantly, the tiny XO shuns Windows or the Mac OS in favour of a Linux based operating system from Red Hat, which apparently rethinks the user interface experience. There are other cool features too - like the ability to power the XO from footcrank. The designers at MIT are aiming to get ten minutes of power our of one minute of cranking. And, like cutting-edge ultraportable PCs from Samsung and Sony, the XO ditches a hard drive in favour of flash memory.Another useful feature, wherever you are in the world, is the ability to create wireless mesh networks - so that rather than having to be right by a hotspot, you can hook up to nearby Wi-Fi users and hop around until you find your uplink.Of course, the XO won't run 3D games. But that's not really the point: it could herald an era of laptop computers that are designed for specific purposes rather than just being (semi) portable desktops. I'd welcome the change.