Help the world, get a laptop free - MoneySense

Help the world, get a laptop free

The One Laptop Per Child project looks to help the developing world get connected.

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This Christmas you could teach your children a valuable lesson about charitable giving, while getting them their first laptop computer for free. It sounds too good to be true, but for two weeks in November, the one Laptop Per Child project will send one laptop to a child in a developing country, and one laptop to you, for a total donation of just $399 (U.S.).

Nicholas Negroponte, co-founding director of the MIT media Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass., came up with the idea for the project, which will hand out distinctive green and white XO laptops that are inexpensive, rugged and energy efficient. The keyboards are sealed, the hard drives have no moving parts, and the computers use less than a tenth of the electricity that a regular laptop uses. In short, they’re perfect for children, especially those who live in harsh environments.

“The purpose of the project is to give children in developing countries the opportunity to get an education,” says Bilel Jamoussi, director of technology for the project at Nortel, which is a founding sponsor. “The laptop is just the tool to provide that education.”

Jamoussi says the nonprofit organization can build each laptop for just $188 (U.S.) by using the free Linux operating system and omitting some of the pricey features found on standard laptops. However, the laptops also incorporate technology that can’t be found anywhere else, some of it developed in Canada by Nortel. For instance, each laptop acts as a network hub, so you can create a wireless Internet network just by distributing the machines across the countryside. The XO also has a screen that you can read in full daylight, a camera, built-in speakers, and a microphone.

The Give 1 Get 1 program is open to Canadian and U.S. residents and runs for only two weeks, from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26. To order, go to www.xogiving.org or call 1-866-Xogiving.

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