The XO Tablet that One Laptop Per Child was shuttling around the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES back in January wasn't quite the final version of the company's first consumer-facing device. Now, a few weeks out from its official June 1st online availability, OLPC's finally got its hands on the shipping product. It's designed by Vivitar, a price-conscious manufacturer hand-picked by retail partner Walmart, marking the first time that the educational company didn't have a direct hand in the creation of its hardware, a big change from the custom components that have traditionally gone into its XO line.
OLPC's made some tweaks to the software, which runs atop of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, taking more advantage of the swipe functionality while navigating through its "I Want to Be An..." UI, which builds the child's experience around dream jobs like astronaut, artist and doctor. It's a super simplified interface built with an even younger target audience in mind than its XO laptops (ages 3 and up, according to the company). The tablet will come pre-loaded with 200 apps (100 in English and 100 in Spanish) and 200 books (also 100 English, 100 Spanish), including selections from content partners like Sesame Street and Oxford University Press. The idea is to offer up enough content so the child can be sufficiently entertained / educated even when not online.
OLPC XO Tablet final version hands-onSee all photos
Some final tweaks have also been made to the green rubberized sleeve, which, along with the software, was the brainchild of design guru Yves Béhar, taking on a somewhat similar form factor to his carabiner-toting Nook Color tablet. Amongst the updates are a more textured backing for the cover, which should help it stay in small hands and some more subtle choices, like the inclusion of tiny X's, corresponding to the O ring at top, in keeping with the product name. The tablet itself is a beefy thing, rugged enough, we're told, for the inevitable spills it will take, but small enough in its 7-inch form factor to be carried around in tiny hands.
The tablet will be available through Walmart.com on June 1st, with limited availability in the retail giant's stores on July 1st, with more retailers coming on board down the road.