Last time we spied the XO-3 tablet concept from OLPC, we were told to expect the thing to ship in the far-distant year 2012. Much has changed since then in the tablet arena, however, and Nicholas Negroponte, the project's founder, is saying they'll have a working prototype ready by December of this year, to be shown off at CES in January of 2011. Many details are still up in the air, but the initial device will be designed for use by children in the oft-neglected developed world, "testing many of the things that combine a laptop, an iPad and a Kindle." Word is they'll be starting with that Marvell Moby reference design, with a 9-inch-ish dual mode LCD for outdoor readability (thanks to Pixel Qi, presumably). The prototype will have a glass screen, but the goal is "100 percent plastic, unbreakable and almost extruded out of a machine," said Negroponte, something that won't happen until 2012 most likely. The best, and possibly wildest, claim of all is the $75 price tag that they hope to slap on this thing when all is said and done. We suppose the veracity of that claim will come down to how long this actually takes to make it from prototype to production. There's video of NickNeg discussing it after the break.

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OLPC should have an XO-3 prototype ready by the end of the year