The OLPC project may be have suffered a series of setbacks recently. But founder Nicholas Negroponte still has big plans for the group’s next mini-laptop, the XO-2. An early mockup of the device was spotted yesterday, but the finished product isn’t expected for another 18 months or so.

Negroponte seems to be making the rounds, talking to reporters this week. The Guardian and XConomy both have in-depth articles based on interviews with the founder of the first netbook. Probably the most interesting news is that Negroponte wants to change the way the XO Laptop is produced. Rather than developing and building all of the hardware components in house, OLPC will treat the XO-2 as an open source hardware project. The parts will all be available for anyone to copy. The group could put out a reference design similar to the Intel Classmate PC design, allowing manufacturers to build their own XO-2 laptops.

One of the main reasons for the new dual-touchscreen design is that one of the most popular uses for the original XO Laptop was as an eBook reader. The idea is to have two separate touchscreens, one of which incorporates haptic feedback and a virtual on-screen keyboard for typing.

According to The Guardian, the goal is to get sell the XO-2 for $75, but I’ll believe that when I see it. The original XO Laptop was supposed to be a $100 laptop, but the price has yet to drop below $199.

via Slashdot and Engadget

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