$10 Laptop

Perak is smouldering!I knew that it was too good to be true and it turns out that it was. There were lots of conflicting reports on an Indian $10 laptop. Turns out that the device is not a laptop but rather a storage device. So, instead of replacing the textbooks in class, they are going to replace school bags.

It is basically a over-glorified flash drive with a bluetooth connection. While this device would have had a great market about 7 years ago, this is not so big today. Storage prices are dirt cheap. You can get a 4Gb flash drive for under $10 and 4Gb can store a whole lot of text books and other reference materials.

However, I do like one the basic concept – which is to remove the whole idea of school bags entirely. A kid just needs to bring a thumbdrive to school, loaded with reference materials (including an entire encyclopedia). The kid can plug this into the school terminal and use it for lessons. Teachers can assign homework (on PDF forms) that students carry home and do it on their home computers. They then carry it back to school the next day to be evaluated by software. Snazzy!

We can already implement this today with USB thumb-drives. For RM26 ($7) retail, we can already buy a 4Gb thumbdrive. Anyone who grew up in the 90s like me, will remember using multi-media encyclopedias that fit on a single CD-ROM (700Mb). With newer compression technology, we can definitely fit even more information on this 4Gb drive. 4Gb is a lot of storage space.

All that is needed then, is a way to use the storage space effectively. Students would need to be provided with individual computer terminals in school. This may turn out to be cheaper than trying to give every child an individual laptop. Centralised terminals are much easier to deploy and maintain than individual computers. All we need is a system like the LTSP system.

Wow, this is most definitely do-able. Unfortunately, I’m not interested in it.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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