OLPC LaptopThe One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has begun the mass production process of the low-cost XO notebook computer. This puts the project on track to ship these in bulk as soon as October 2007.

The even bigger news comes from Reuters who says that the OLPC could be hitting the retail stores this holiday season. So what kind of price are we talking about? Well, it isn’t exactly the $100 laptop that it once set out to be, but they did manage to squeeze each of these out for a mere $175. But I don’t see you buying a million of these at one time, so if you’re looking to grab one for yourself it’s gonna run you at least $350. There are even talks of charging consumers $525 for one of these which would then help fund more computers for developing countries.

If you’re looking for a laptop that can be powered by a hand crank, and want a battery that lasts a whopping 12-hours this might be the computer for you. Or maybe you want something that can withstand severe weather? If none of those things appeal that much to you then you might want to think about an Eee PC instead. It’s going to have a version for less than $200 available later this year, and much like the OLPC XO laptop it too will be running Linux.

I think a consumer version of the OLPC XO notebook could have done reasonably well for $250 or even $299, but $350 is pretty darn high in my opinion. And then the thought of $525 for this thing is insane since I can get a full-featured laptop these days for a similar price.

I know I know…I’m not looking at it with the "help the developing countries" point of view, but I think there are other considerations that should be thought about. Most countries, if not all, have poor areas that can hardly afford school supplies. If there was a way where I could designate who gets the proceeds (which could be delivered in the form of a laptop) from my purchase I might be more willing to do it. I’m sure that is something they are already thinking about though.

How much would you be willing to pay for an OLPC XO laptop?