World of India!: Negroponte's Media Labs trumps India's SIMPUTER? e

World of India!

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Negroponte's Media Labs trumps India's SIMPUTER?

I am thinking of getting a new laptop and forsaking the Thinkpad I am using, right now. Nicholas Negroponte who has launched the MIT Media Labs, has come up with a $100 laptop, which seems to be a very interesting machine. Its no Acer Ferrari of course, but then do most people need one, anyway? I think the 366 MHZ AMD processsor and the 512 MB flash memory, instead of a hard drive and 2 USB ports for additional memory, would do just fine, for some basic usage required for kids and the common man, wishing to surf the net. Whats more it has a brand new user interface that seems to be quite novel.

The MIT-ML was founded in 1985 by Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner, former president of the MIT and science adviser to President John F. Kennedy. "Inventing the future," is the vision of Negroponte and the objective of the MIT-ML's multi-disciplinary research, which is driven by emerging communication and information technologies.

Negroponte had tried to set up a Media Lab in India. But the project was wound up after the then Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Arun Shourie, disbanded the Indian Govt's participation. The trigger for the eventual calling off of the project seems to have been the demand made by the MIT for an additional payment of $5 million or $1 million a year over 10 years for the use of the brand name, Media Lab.Shourie had then said-"The contributions by MIT were not in evidence and MIT had not been put to any specific deliverables at the end of the year".

Pity, looks like Negroponte has managed to deliver after all.

The other low cost PC that was supposed to change the way low cost consumers would use technology was the SIMPUTER. But its hardware specs of

- CPU 32-bit Strong Arm SA-1100 RISC CPU running at 200MHz
- 24 MB Flash for Permanent Storage (DOC)
- 64 MB DRAM

seem no match vis a vis the Media Labs model. The SIMPUTER also costs Rs.9000/-, when farmers in Vidarbha are commiting suicide for not being able to repay loans as tiny as Rs.2000/-! The SIMPUTER does have a lot of features that the Media Labs model doesn't provide like an MP3 player and a variety of tools and applications that aim to make it a infotainment device. But its just too costly, for their target customers. Looks like the desire to provide more features has robbed the SIMPUTER of its basic aim to provide affordable low cost information technology solution for the masses.


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