Interestingly this tablet is branded by OLPC but they didn't build it. Instead it has been built by Vivitar. You may not have heard of them but you have probably seen some of their other products like their Hello Kitty and Barbie branded Android tablets. They are a low cost electronics manufacturer.
The XO Tablet is a custom tailored version of a Vivitar kids tablet. We assume this approach has been taken to raise funds to produce a tablet that is closer to OLPC's vision of providing technology to countries with a low budget and requirements for rugged, sustainable devices.
The XO Tablet has a distinctive OLPC green rubberized cover with a hanging / carrying loop. It runs Android (Jelly Bean 4.2 on release) but with a custom UI designed for young children. This tablet is aimed at children from age 3 so it's for younger children than the OLPC netbook format devices.
The UI allows children to choose a dream profession to navigate to related content. The content is either curated existing content or content from OLPC partners which has been developed for the device.
There are parental controls and the tablet does support full Android with access to a wide range of apps. And the device offers English and Spanish language support which will be a key feature for some families.
Engadget has got a hands-on preview of the XO Tablet:
The XO Tablet will be competing with other Android tablets for kids and with features for children such as the Nabi, Kurio and Kindle Fire ranges as well as learning tablets like the VTech InnoTab and LeapFrog LeapPad range.
The key issues for the success of the OLPC XO Tablet will be:
- The user experience. Is it simple enough to get started and easy to extend as kids want access to more content? Kids' tablets have been struggling to perfect the user experience. If the XO makes a big leap forward that will be significant.
- Unique content. Is the content from OLPC partners compelling? Google has a very big push on Android for Education this year. Will the XO offer great kids content you can't get elsewhere?
- Cost. Pricing is sensitive for tablets for kids. Lots of parents are struggling financially but really want to be able to put a tablet in their children's hands. Will the XO Tablet offer better value for money than a cheap generic Android tablet?