The OLPC XO Laptop is arguably the first netbook. It’s small, light, durable, and cheap. But the XO has always been aimed at the education market, with a focus primarily on getting computers into the hands of young children in developing nations. And that probably explains why the computer has an unusual, silicone keyboard with tiny keys. The keyboard is water and dust resistant, but it’s not the easiest keyboard for adults to type on.

But it looks like the OLPC Foundation is considering developing a version of the laptop with a “non-membrane keyboard.” This model could be targeted at older children with larger hands.

A more traditional keyboard might also be more durable. Sure, dust and water can get in between the keys. But there’ve been reports that the silicone membrane keyboard starts to tear after repeated use. That wouldn’t be a problem with a traditional plastic keyboard.

In the meantime, if you happen to find yourself with an XO laptop and you want to hack a standard keyboard onto it, you can check out a set of steps from Instructables for doing just that.

via OLPC News

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