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Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have a plan for getting $100 laptops in the hands of millions of people around the world. One notable feature of their prototype is a hand crank for providing power in places where electricity is undependable or unavailable.
The yellow and green case gives the machine a playful quality, MIT Media Lab Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said.
Brazil’s first official stab at a low-cost computer for the masses was the Popular PC, in an initiative launched in 2001. Many components, including a flash drive, were to be built domestically to avoid high import taxes, but the project never got off the ground. That version was to cost around $250. A subsequent version of the Popular PC used a more conventional architecture that pushed the price tag to the neighborhood of $600. The program went into limbo in 2002 with a change of government.
The Mobilis Wireless laptop from Indian technology firm Encore Software features a 7.4-inch LCD screen and six-hour battery life. It costs about 15,000 rupees, or about $277.
The Mobilis desktop is powered by Intel’s XScale PXA255 200/400MHz processor and has 128MB of SDRAM. It comes with a carrying case that hides a full-size, roll-up keyboard and opens up as a desktop stand. Its price tag is 10,000 rupees, or $230.
The Personal Internet Communicator from Advanced Micro Devices features Microsoft software, including Internet Explorer, the Windows Media Player and a version of Windows. The device is sold through Internet service providers, which will set the local price; it was listed at $185 without a monitor when it debuted.
The Amida Simputer is a product of the Indian companies Bharat Electronics and PicoPeta Simputers. It runs Linux, uses a stylus, and has a 206MHz processor, 64MB of RAM and two USB ports.