Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 12:52 UK

Venezuela splashes out on laptops

Hugo Chavez and Jose Socrates with Magellan notebook, AFP/Getty
Venezuela will buy one million of the remodelled Classmate laptops

Venezuela is ordering one million low cost laptops for its school children.

The machines will be based on the Intel Classmate laptop that has been designed for school children.

Many see the deal as a blow for the One Laptop Per Child organisation that has also been touting its child-friendly machine to developing nations.

Venezuela is buying the portable computers as part of a $3bn (1.66bn) bilateral trade deal with Portugal that also covers housing and utilities.

Computer clash

Portugal is manufacturing the blue and white laptops under licence from Intel and are broadly based on the chip maker's design of its Classmate computer.

Dubbed Magalhaes (Magellan), the laptops will have on board low-power Intel Atom chips designed for laptops. They will also sport digital cameras and a broadband net connection.

As an operating system, the machines will run a version of Linux developed in Venezuela.

The deal with Venezuela follows an agreement between Intel and Portugal, signed in August for Classmate machines.

Under that deal Portugal agreed to buy 500,000 machines to enable every six-to-10-year-old in the country to get one.

The deal to buy the machines is the largest yet for laptops created for school children.

Intel's big rival in this market is the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation, which has developed the XO laptop.

That machine has wi-fi onboard and was designed to work well in the challenging conditions found in many developing nations.

The original aim of the OLPC was to make a laptop that cost less then $100. The first finished design ended up costing about $188. The OLPC group hopes to hit its original aim on price with future versions.

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