I don't see the hand crank on the latest designs, is it not part of the laptop's design anymore?
The hand crank is still there, it just moved to the AC adapter. It didn't make ergonomic sense to have it on the laptop, and it put mechanical stress on the laptop itself. A discussion of a candidate system can be found in this Technology Review article. It also means that power generation is entirely independent of the laptop which invites other charging mechanisms to be used such as Freecharge portable charger, car batteries, bullock-driven generators, etc.
How is it possible to get the cost so low?
First, by dramatically lowering the cost of the display. The first-generation machine will have a novel, dual-mode display. These displays can be used in either high-resolution black and white in bright sunlight, or in a lower resolution color mode indoors - where the color is created by an LED-based backlight. By rethinking the LCD display: through the removal of color filters, change of the pixel layout, improvements in the optics of the backlight and liquid crystal mode, and in the drive circuitry for the display: We have lowered the typical display cost in a laptop down from $150 to approximately $35. Perhaps more importantly, we have designed a display that is more readable than today's LCDs: a 200dpi, ~20% reflective, sunlight readable display, with huge power savings. This is critical because half of the world's children do not have electricity at home, and need to be able to charge up the laptop batteries themselves with some type of human powered device like the Freecharge portable charger.
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