My XO sat charged and available in the family room all last week while grandsons Paul (age 6) and Miles (age 2) were visiting with their mom and dad.
To my disappointment, the reception to the XO was underwhelming. Paul lost patience after five minutes. Miles whacked at it for a while, mostly in imitation of his older brother who quickly reverted to using the desktop PC. Even their tech-savvy dad spent very little time with the device, having minimal familiarity with Linux.
To be fair, these rather privileged boys had other distractions - new Legos, Thomas the Tank Engine toys, videos, books, cookies, and even a sledding hill just out the back door. Not to mention two doting grandparents willing to play with them.
- A favorite website of these boys is Dave Pilkey's game pages. While we were able to connect to the page and even run Flash to see the game, none of the keyboard controls allowed game play. And, "Oh, man!" what a loooong wait for loads.
- At age 6, Paul has already become a some-what sophisticated Windows user. While he has no problem with the Mac operating system, Sugar threw him. Since Negroponte's theory is that kids will be able to teach themselves this OS, I gave Paul minimal instruction. He was unable or unwilling to invest the time it took to figure all but the minimum out about the XO.
- The XO was great at deflecting gooey fingers, snotty noses, and other liquidy sorts of attacks common with small boys in the winter.
While my family is a very small petrie dish, I'd be willing to bet that if it were released in the US, the XO would be a computer of last resort - used only by those who could or would not spend slightly more on a faster machine with a more familiar acting OS. (The ASUS Eee, for example.) And I understand that Paul and Miles are not the intended audience for this computer. Still, I was a little disappointed that it was not better received. And neither boy (nor parents) lobbied for ownership of the XO.
However I still believe that anyone would rather have an XO than no computer at all.
For what it's worth.