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"World's Cheapest Laptop" Available in Bulk Only

ScuttleMonkey posted about 6 years ago | from the if-it-looks-like-a-fish-and-smells-like-a-fish dept.

357

BobB writes to tell us that what one company is calling the "world's cheapest laptop" is now available at the price of $130. Unfortunately if you want to buy one you will also need to convince 99 of your closest friends to go in on an order with you since you cannot buy in less than units of 100. We have covered several "cheap laptops" in the past and many have turned out to be fraudulent, so especially with a large up-front cost, buyer beware. "The Impulse NPX-9000 laptop has a 7-inch screen and comes with the Linux OS. It has a 400MHz processor, 128M bytes of RAM, 1G byte of flash storage and an optional wireless networking dongle. It includes office productivity software, a Web browser and multimedia software."

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357 comments

So group buy... (4, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | about 6 years ago | (#24373649)

...who's in?

Re:So group buy... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373729)

http://www.pledgebank.com/

Re:So group buy... (5, Interesting)

veganboyjosh (896761) | about 6 years ago | (#24374135)

Even closer in spirit, I think, would be www.eswarm.com. I've met one of the founders, and they've been in development for a long time, it seems. From what I understand, the whole point of e-swarming is to post something you'd like a discount on (like these cheap laptops, or even regular consumer items--blenders, ipods, car insurance, etc--and see if you can find the requisite number of people to affect a bulk buy discount.

When I first met the guy, and heard his idea, I thought it a brilliant use of the internet, and I'm surprised it hasn't caught on before.

Re:So group buy... (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 years ago | (#24373763)

Well,I want to see what "The Linux" OS is.

Has some distro won the prize?

Re:So group buy... (1)

FrankDeath (746264) | about 6 years ago | (#24373901)

This is the perfect use for thepoint.com

Re:So group buy... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 6 years ago | (#24374001)

At $13,000 for a minimum order of 100, the NPX-9000 is not an Impulse buy.

No wonder it's cheap (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373651)

With specs like that. It's pretty much useless.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (4, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | about 6 years ago | (#24373721)

With specs like that. It's pretty much useless.

If useful to you means "can play the latest FPS video games", then yes, it's useless.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#24373899)

But what sort of applications is it good for that require mobility? Sure, you could run a DNS server or something on it, but servers don't need to be mobile, so why buy a laptop for that? With those specs it's going to have a hard time running X alone, especially with a modern window manager, much less any sort of productivity tool like OpenOffice.

The race to the bottom in the laptop world may eventually bear fruit by reducing the cost of more capable laptops but that doesn't mean a laptop with specs like this is going to be very useful for most people. Hell, modern PDAs approach the specs of this thing.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (4, Insightful)

CogDissident (951207) | about 6 years ago | (#24373985)

You can browse, run most OpenOffice products at a useable speed (and all of them if you don't mind some lag). And use connection software to tunnel into your work machine from outside the office. And use chat software. What more do you want with a mobile machine?

Re:No wonder it's cheap (3, Funny)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | about 6 years ago | (#24374143)

But...but...I can't go down to starbucks to play WoW and pwn newbs...plus this thing doesn't even have lights on the case.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1, Insightful)

Deadplant (212273) | about 6 years ago | (#24374341)

...productivity tool like OpenOffice.

side-rant: God I hate office/open office. those apps are anti-productivity tools.
bloated irritating crap that should be banned from office computers.

vi forever!

wordpad > office 99.999% of the time.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (2, Informative)

Enleth (947766) | about 6 years ago | (#24374465)

Cattledung. I've seen KDE running smoothly on a desktop with specs worse than that, perfectly usable for web browsing, e-mail, programming and text editing - which is exactly what its user, a Comp Sci student, needed on a daily basis.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374631)

It's good for running (remote) shell sessions from anywhere. If there was a PDA that could do this, that would be even better, since x86 architecture is overkill for this task, and has shitty battery life compared to ARM. Unfortunately all PDAs are either crippled by bad or none-existant keyboard or locked hardware.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373967)

128 Megs of ram is useless. I am speaking from experience. I have a 12 year old laptop that I keep around because it still works. It has 96 megs. It *can* run firefox and go online, but it is downright painful to use.

The instance of firefox which I am using to post this response is currently using 150 megs, and that isn't including any OS.

128 megs is the standard amount for a real computer from 9 years ago. Software isn't written to run in those constraints anymore.

Yes, you can run stripped down everything, but you wont be able to do much in that configuration.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 6 years ago | (#24374439)

It's got 128MB and 400MHz, it's a better Linux box than a PS2, which was fully capable of running Firefox with only 32MB of RAM. And if you don't want Firefox there's Dillo or Links.

Trust me, having run Linux on a PS2, I know this thing will be more usable. The main weakness of this thing is the 1GB of storage, the PS2 had a 40GB hard drive.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1)

Mistlefoot (636417) | about 6 years ago | (#24374125)

I am writing this on an old Compaq Armada 1750 that sits in a spare room. 333mhz, 128mb ram, 6gb harddrive and windows 2000. With the exception of storage I am slower then this new laptop. Provided that it has usb for extra storage this machine would be fast enough for web browsing, email, and Office type apps - but without usb for storage I'm not sure you'll get much of an openoffice app on it.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (5, Funny)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 6 years ago | (#24373979)

With specs like that. It's pretty much useless.

That's what she said.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#24374167)

It's faster than my first PC. And my second PC (which was four times the speed) And my third PC (which was another 4 times increment). My first PC was suitable for email, word processing, photo editing, games (Doom worked very well. So did Descent and X-wing). I could use it for telnet and run a number of chat clients.

Honestly, all I really need for a portable is the ability to type stuff up and send it to other people. This will do that very well. Anything else is just a bonus.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (2, Insightful)

Nyall (646782) | about 6 years ago | (#24374259)

No ideas?
By comparison a ti83 costs about ~120 bucks new. There is an educational overhead to using these devices: I would much rather have teachers teaching kids how to do graphs and stats with a spread sheet (spread sheets are a skill they can use their entire life) than learning what buttons to press on a calculator.

Re:No wonder it's cheap (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | about 6 years ago | (#24374313)

Sounds like my 10 year old laptop, 256M, P2 400MHz and 4G drive, but nice thing it was FREE, my friend didn't need it or want it anymore. It slow even when running my just GPS software on Win2K. Had problems with Linux and the GPS software two years ago, it may work better now, miggain.

lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373659)

dongs

I don't have 99 friends (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373671)

I'm just an anonymous coward and I don't have 99 friends.

Re:I don't have 99 friends (-1, Troll)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 years ago | (#24373917)

I'm just an anonymous coward and I don't have 99 friends.

It would be particularly informative if parent comment was now modded up with "underrated" to reach a score of "+5, redundant".

I feel bad for you, son. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374185)

I got 99 friends and bitches ain't one of them.

Re:I feel bad for you, son. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374521)

You are, after all, a nerd.

This deal is intened... (3, Funny)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 years ago | (#24373683)

For the Beowulf crowd... just imagine.....

Re:This deal is intened... (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 years ago | (#24373773)

Yeah, but how many /.errs have a Beowulf cluster of friends?

Re:This deal is intened... (5, Funny)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 years ago | (#24373865)

who needs friends when you got a cluster of 100 laptops!

Re:This deal is intened... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 6 years ago | (#24373883)

Not many if they use their friends for a Beowulf cluster.

Re:This deal is intened... (5, Funny)

BobPaul (710574) | about 6 years ago | (#24373929)

My Beowulf cluster is my friend. Does that count?

Re:This deal is intened... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374097)

You must be new here.

Re:This deal is intened... (1)

orasio (188021) | about 6 years ago | (#24374253)

You don't have any friends. Nobody likes you!

Re:This deal is intened... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 years ago | (#24373949)

Yeah, but how many /.errs have a Beowulf cluster of friends?

I think the actual question is how many /.ers consider a Beowulf cluster to be their friends?

400MHz ought to be enough (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373689)

Posting this with my 600MHz laptop running KDE 3 1/2 (Kubuntu 8.04) and have never had any complaints about speed. 128MB, though ...

Re:400MHz ought to be enough (1)

Nullav (1053766) | about 6 years ago | (#24374511)

I concur. I still frequently use several machines with 800MHz P3s and have absolutely no problems, save for a few Flash-stuffed pages. Hell, I still warm my legs with a P133 almost daily.
Also, I don't see much of a problem with the bulk requirement; one could probably make a pretty penny reselling these as cheap, throwaway boxes (in a brick-n'-mortar store, not eBay). This is clearly targeted at schools, businesses and retail outlets. It would probably be better to just pick up a used P4 notebook for ~$50 if you're willing to settle for 400MHz/128MB and 1GB of storage.

Re:400MHz ought to be enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374613)

Is it enough for everybody?

Wait.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373691)

Till it's actually on the market. Then we'll know if it's worth anything.

Anyone want to go in on a purchase? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373693)

If so, chat me up here:

http://sea-cat.info/scc.html

Looks pretty poor (0)

99luftballon (838486) | about 6 years ago | (#24373755)

I tested the 7 inch screen Eee PC when it first came out and a screen that size is pretty much useless when it comes to internet use of serious document preparation.

The article doesn't mention a VGA port but at that price I'd be amazed if it has one.

Still, I suppose any computer, even if it does give you eyestrain, is better than none.

Re:Looks pretty poor (5, Informative)

adisakp (705706) | about 6 years ago | (#24373857)

The article doesn't mention a VGA port but at that price I'd be amazed if it has one.

Be amazed!!! There's a picture of the ports on the pruchase site (linked to from the artcle) and the specs and yes, one of the ports is external VGA [alibaba.com] .

Re:Looks pretty poor (1)

99luftballon (838486) | about 6 years ago | (#24374085)

I'm amazed, and slightly chagrined.

Re:Looks pretty poor (1)

BobPaul (710574) | about 6 years ago | (#24374091)

Disappointing that there's no networking at all built in. I wonder how much extra they charge for the "optional 802.11g WiFi dongle" or if you're on your own to find a WiFi dongle that is supported by the OS. That's going to be pretty huge since this runs on MIPS rather than x86, so choice of distributions will be limited somewhat and you won't be able to do an ndiswrapper stop-gap installation.

Re:Looks pretty poor (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 6 years ago | (#24374531)

I thought the Linux kernel has had MIPS support for ages and I know there's a few MIPS Linux distro's out there for download. Heck, they could just borrow the source from PS2 Linux's Kondara-ized version of RH6.

Re:Looks pretty poor (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about 6 years ago | (#24374273)

why do the idiots keep putting on VGA ports (this includes my uber-expensive Sony Vaio TX) VGA is dead. Give us a fucking DVI!

If You're short of space give us an HDMI!

Re:Looks pretty poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373953)

If you follow the link in the article, it takes you here:

http://www.alibaba.com/product-tp/101509462/World_s_Cheapest_Laptop.html

where it mentions the ports (USB, VGA, Mini USB, and power).

Re:Looks pretty poor (1)

74nova (737399) | about 6 years ago | (#24373965)

With respect to specs and cost and minimum purchase restrictions aside, I don't think there's much denying the viability of this little machine. Judging by the popularity of the eeePC, the specs are fine for whatever people are buying them for.

Re:Looks pretty poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374025)

Actually, it does have a VGA port - from the specs:

1) 400 MHz MIPS CPU
2) 7" Analog Screen
3) 128 MB SDRAM
4) 1 GB Flash Memory
5) 80 Key English Keyboard & Touch Pad
6) Linux O.S.
7) Connectors: SD Card Slot, VGA Port, USB x 3, Mini USB, Microphone and Earphone Jack
8) AC Adaptor and Accessories
9) External USB LAN or 802.11g WiFi dongle (optional)

Re:Looks pretty poor (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#24374061)

I tested the 7 inch screen Eee PC when it first came out and a screen that size is pretty much useless when it comes to internet use of serious document preparation.

The Mac Classic my wife used to get through law school, several years of law, and then half of medical school only had a 512x384 9" monochrome CRT...

Now, I agree that one wouldn't want to do much in the way of desktop publishing on a 7" screen - and programming could get ugly, but it is more than capable of checking email and making slideshows... if your slide can't be seen on a 7" screen then it can't be seen across a room, either. You can also type text into it and format it later. Even web surfing can be acceptable if you just hit up news sites and the like.

Re:Looks pretty poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374117)

You've never worked on a Toshiba 1000 for any length of time have you? ;)

cheap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373765)

I wonder when this race to the bottom will result in a cheap laptop with a text only display.

Re:cheap (1)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#24374007)

Here [amazon.com] you go. And for only $19.95!

Who cares if this one is for real, they ARE coming (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 6 years ago | (#24373769)

Seriously. Just click around on that website. Looks like China is about to unleash a crapload of cheap laptops. I said it back when the EEEPC refocused on the $400-$600 market, that at those prices Linux was going to get replaced with XP and I was mostly right. But I also said somebody would remember the hugh interest when Asus mentioned a $200 pricepoint and that somebody would fill it. Consider it filled.

Most of these are very poorly thought out designs, especially today's link. Most will fail in the marketplace, only a few will even get into mass retail channels as even the morons at Best Buy can smell the fail. But all it takes is for ONE to succeed and that will probably happen. When that happens everything changes.

Re:Who cares if this one is for real, they ARE com (4, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | about 6 years ago | (#24374107)

Most of these are very poorly thought out designs, especially today's link. Most will fail in the marketplace, only a few will even get into mass retail channels as even the morons at Best Buy can smell the fail. But all it takes is for ONE to succeed and that will probably happen. When that happens everything changes.

At around $100, a laptop becomes an impulse buy for many people. Need a disposable machine you can buy for an overseas vacation? Need something you can give the kids where you don't have to worry if it gets lost or trashed? Need a laptop you can buy from a vending machine? How about handing out free laptops that tie you into some monthly subscription service? All of these become possible at a $100 price point.

Despite the best efforts of Microsoft, Linux is going to dominate the low end of laptop computing within three years. Microsoft will have to give away Windows in order to compete, and that ain't gonna happen. If the low-end manufacturers can standardize on a particular Linux distro/interface, the revolution will happen that much faster. Then, once everyone is used to operating these cut-rate machines, some enterprising vendors will need only package "deluxe" versions of the same Linux distro along with support for pricier laptops, and Windows will start to see some serious market erosion.

Re:Who cares if this one is for real, they ARE com (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 6 years ago | (#24374371)

How about this: If we were to buy 100 Asus eeePCs, we could probably get a good price, and we know those are powerful enough to be useful.

Would you rather spend $250 on something you can actually do work on or $130 on something that won't be of any use?

I mean, if you're gonna talk about buying 100 units, you can probably get a sweet price. Costco does it all the time.

Wow - low specs... (1)

AndGodSed (968378) | about 6 years ago | (#24373771)

AND a dodgy offer.

It's all hype and no substance.

Re:Wow - low specs... (5, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | about 6 years ago | (#24373875)

Extra dodgy.

The website [impulseglobal.com] for Carapelli Ltd. (the supplier) is blank, the street address is a P.O. Box, although they list phone (886-2-25969225) and fax numbers (886-2-25941330) which may be active.

Re:Wow - low specs... (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 6 years ago | (#24374411)

The correct spelling is "Craparelli".

Re:Wow - low specs... (2, Funny)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 6 years ago | (#24373931)

It's all hype and no substance.

...and yet it's not running Vista? Go figure...

Resellers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373779)

Assuming that the laptop is indeed worth it, I suppose this will be the type of product that resellers will be interested in. They might buy a bunch in bulk in terms of making a profit by reselling at a markup, possibly at $150.

Keep in mind... (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | about 6 years ago | (#24373783)

Keep in mind that developing countries benefit from this moreso than developed countries. You have no need for cheap laptops, but the world does. While the 7" screen is definitely a pitfall in my opinion, I suppose that it would serve a purpose. Also, while cheaper than OLPC, I feel as if this might be geared more towards young adults with a "serious" computer need rather than the Sugar OS, which is a bit childish in my opinion.

Not new - not cheapest (4, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | about 6 years ago | (#24373815)

As this liliputing article points out [liliputing.com] , this is a rebrand of a common product (razorbook, elonex one, etc.).
The linux distribution is, well, unknown, and the specs are less than impressive; basically it's a MIPS32 CPU, PDA rather than laptop range. Liliputing also has a $99 laptop on their homepage right now, with even less impressive specs.

Re:Not new - not cheapest (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 6 years ago | (#24374361)

basically it's a MIPS32 CPU, PDA rather than laptop range.

Really? It depends on which MIPS core they use. The R16000 is a very fine core. Look at these results: http://www.tabsnet.com/index.php?option=com_benchmark&task=list&bid=1&sysid=1 [tabsnet.com]

It performs very well clock for clock compared to x86 processors. Of corse, that is a 64 bit core. It's the clever bits (out of order, branch prediction, etc) which make it go fast, not the 64 bittiness.

So, in other words, don't knock MIPS.

Profit (0)

aembleton (324527) | about 6 years ago | (#24373859)

  1. Buy 100 laptops
  2. Sell 99 of them on ebay
  3. Profit!

Re:Profit (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 6 years ago | (#24373959)

Yikes, good luck selling 99 of them for a profit. Unless of course... you follow the eBay way and offer them up for $0.01 and then charge $175 for shipping. (ugh)

my phone has better specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373873)

and while it costs a bit more it has the virtue of being a working phone. while the screen size is nice the rest of it's trash, plain and simple.

Re:my phone has better specs (1)

6Yankee (597075) | about 6 years ago | (#24374059)

I'm with the AC on this one. I'm on my second HTC handset, and it does everything you'd expect to be able to do on a portable device while still fitting in my pocket. A 7-inch screen is no match for unlimited HSDPA, either.

Minimal bang for the buck (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 years ago | (#24373885)

Couldn't you get a used laptop that beats those specs for $130? Granted, you would almost certainly need to buy a new battery for said used laptop, but nonetheless I don't see the advantage of this system.

Re:Minimal bang for the buck (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 years ago | (#24374601)

Also, for about $550, you could get a new laptop [walmart.com] , with dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 120 GB HD, wireless networking, and a DVD writer. Costs 4 times as much, but it's easily 4 times as useful. It's like saying you could get a Vespa for $5000. Yes, you could, but that only makes sense if you don't have to buy another car. In the same way, this computer is only cheap if you don't plan on having another computer to make up for its lack of features.

Tempting, but (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 6 years ago | (#24373935)

I bought the 701 eee PC, so I'm about full on 7" laptops with mediocre resolution. The next one I buy will either be a slight bit larger vertically or have better resolution. If I hadn't already got the 701, I'd be sorely tempted by the 901 or 1000, especially with their supposed 6+ hours battery life.

I got the large battery for the 701 and it almost lasts 4 hours if I'm just reading with the backlight turned down. If I could buy a spare 6 cell battery or an even larger capacity battery, I'd be mostly happy. The resolution is sufficent for reading(especially when held sideways with the window rotated), it's just the lack of vertical resolution that makes browsing and remoting a scrolling pain.

OLPC (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24373939)

It's amazing what kind of impact the OLPC project is having. From a business standpoint, the project does not seem to be doing very well. However, from a humanitarian point of view, (and the name of the project at least implies that their mission is ostensibly humanitarian), it is being amazingly successful, having created and brought heavy competition into the cheap laptop business. Even if OLPC were to cease to exist, it very well might be possible that every child will have one laptop.

Will it run Flash? (4, Insightful)

fohat (168135) | about 6 years ago | (#24374003)

I was just looking at the minimum specs for running Flash version 9 http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/productinfo/systemreqs/ [adobe.com] which apparently needs a P2-450 to run. I'm curious if this 400 MHz CPU would be fast enough for smooth playability? Lack of Flash support would eliminate a good chunk of uses for this thing.

Re:Will it run Flash? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 years ago | (#24374535)

I had a 1.1GHz Celeron laptop which absolutely choked on Youtube, and most Newgrounds videos for that matter.

Re:Will it run Flash? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 6 years ago | (#24374583)

According to the linked pages, it has some kind of flash player, probably gnash or something, which won't be really sufficient capability wise. It'd be fast enough to watch flv's downloaded from youtube.

Re:Will it run Flash? (2, Insightful)

grahamdrew (589499) | about 6 years ago | (#24374597)

No. Forget speed for a second, it's a MIPS processor. Does not run x86 applications, does not run x86 plugins. Maybe you get get it to run one of the GPL flash interpreters, but it'll never run the Adobe flash plugin until Adobe makes on specifically for Linux running on a MIPS.

a little problem (4, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 6 years ago | (#24374013)

I just got a P3 laptop for free at a rummage sale cuz the hard drive was broken (but I had a spare one). This model goes for far under $100 on ebay so let's compare. 400MHz processor vs 850 MHz processor. 128 vs 128 of ram. 1GB of storage compared to 20GB. 7 inch screen vs 14. And a who knows but probably less AH batter vs a 2.2AH battery (you can order a 4-6+ AH one on ebay for it though). Oh and mine came with ME on it so I reinstalled that and it boots from off in about 15 seconds and shuts down in just under 5 seconds. Yep, mine's faster. This trend of ultra cheap but slower than hell laptops is a joke. If you want some cheap, slow piece of crap that can surf the web and type documents, just buy a used laptop on ebay for even cheaper.

Re:a little problem (5, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 years ago | (#24374165)

I was with you right up until you re-installed ME. Turn in your geek card. Now.

Re:a little problem (1)

Blimey85 (609949) | about 6 years ago | (#24374565)

I was thinking the same thing. I'm not a Windows hater but ME? Are you freakin kidding us?!!?!?

Re:a little problem (3, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#24374391)

If you want some cheap, slow piece of crap that can surf the web and type documents, just buy a used laptop on ebay for even cheaper.

Sure, if you can live with zero tech support and have the technical skill to deal with all the hardware and software issues.

Why is it that Slashdotters can't grasp that most people are not techies? They cannot do stuff like resolve subtle system conflicts or install news OS.

My niece wanted a new computer, and didn't have much money. I found her an old XP system (actually pretty powerful) on Craigslist for $50. Except to keep it working, I have to answer a support call from her every few weeks. A few weeks ago, the mechanical mouse she had stopped working. I told her to go buy an optical mouse. She did, but then last week she accidentally unplugged it from the PS2 port while the system was live. I told her to disconnect the PS2 adapter and plug it into a USB port. Didn't work, and I wasn't up to figuring out why over the phone. So I had her reboot, which meant explaining how to do that from the keyboard. Which fixed the problem — until next time. I don't mind giving her all this tech support for free, but most people don't have access to somebody like me.

These are all problems you or I could solve faster than it takes to describe them. But most people can't. That's why a simple, Linux-based, preconfigured laptop without a lot of features that most people don't need is a good deal, even if it's more expensive than a more powerful used machine.

Re:a little problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374527)

Who gives a shit about specs, you buy a notebook for portability, silly.

Re:a little problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374559)

*points and laughs at the guy who admitted to running ME*

Hand-me-downs... (1)

msimm (580077) | about 6 years ago | (#24374595)

I think enough people prefer new that the ebay argument won't actually hold much merit for the intended market.

Not that I don't agree that the features seem lacking, but I really see the market companies are aiming these things at as a latent market that will continue to wait for the right combination of both features and price. It'll happen, it just might not happen today.

What's the point? (3, Insightful)

wumpus188 (657540) | about 6 years ago | (#24374023)

I do not understand this obsession with cheap crap on Slashdot recently... This $130 "laptop" is a fine example. Seriously, I'm lost... why would anyone consider buying such thing?

Re:What's the point? (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 6 years ago | (#24374187)

I do not understand this obsession with cheap crap on Slashdot recently... This $130 "laptop" is a fine example. Seriously, I'm lost... why would anyone consider buying such thing?

I've been wondering the same thing about Walmart and its customers for a long time...

Re:What's the point? (3, Insightful)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 6 years ago | (#24374615)

To replace $300 temperature controllers from the 1980's, used on kilns and heat treatment furnaces all over the world?
To replace $400 data acquisition systems from the 1970's, used on process control systems all over the world?
At this price you can begin replacing industrial modems, tearing out ancient proprietary CNC controller systems on mills and lathes, retrofit large solar panel charge controller systems with these.
There are industries all over the non-first-world that can't afford industrial-quality control systems. These sorts of crummy little computers have 100x the performance and flexibility of old ladder-logic programmable logic controllers, and could be turned into amazingly useful, easily-updated or replaced, manufacturing control systems.

You can get one cheaper (1)

btempleton (149110) | about 6 years ago | (#24374133)

Just go to eBay, and buy a much older generation ultralight laptop, the kind that used to cost $2,000. You will pretty readily find one with better specs than that for quite cheap, possibly under $100. Replace the hard drive with a flash card. Using a adapter you can get for just a few bucks, also on eBay, you can plug a compact flash card into a 2.5" IDE drive cable as found on the laptop.

Ok, you need a distro that will distribute writes on the flash card, but I bet you can work it out.

In fact, I have often wondered if we couldn't duplicate the cheap-laptops-for-kids efforts with free, donated laptops into which you slot a pre-prepared IDE interface compact flash card with linux on it.

Re:You can get one cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374573)

You'll probably need to buy a new battery for it too.

sub-notebook problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374155)

You're having sub-notebook problems,
And I feel bad for son,
I got 99 problems,
But a laptop aint one. /shit_cover_version

Now that the OLPC is just another laptop, what's to stop developing countries just buying a few thousand of these machines?

Here's a cheaper one... (4, Informative)

argent (18001) | about 6 years ago | (#24374169)

http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/206720976/7_mini_laptop.html [alibaba.com]

$90-$180 FOB Shanghai, QTY 500. Runs Linux or Windows CE.

Looks like they have variants of this from 7" to 12.1", which is why the range of prices.

Schools (1)

story645 (1278106) | about 6 years ago | (#24374217)

If this thing's legit and half decent, it's probably not gonna be any more expensive than whatever deal Dell/Mac give schools, so it may be worth picking up. I'm thinking of private/parochial schools that don't have gov't contracts, but maybe even elementary schools if you throw sugar/a sugar like interface 'cause it may be friendlier to kids than a full size (heavy) laptop.

Windows 95 never ran so fast!!!! (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | about 6 years ago | (#24374235)

I say load up windows 95 on the thing and have a screaming machine for the kiddies, put the load image on a flash drive and when the kiddies mess up their laptop you can just flash it back to factory default.

Or load it up with some sorta Nintendo DS Emulator or PSP emulator and have a kick ass portable console.

Or load Mame on it and play a bazillion games on your new portable gaming system!!!

Re:Windows 95 never ran so fast!!!! (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 6 years ago | (#24374637)

This thing is MIPS, not x86, no Win95 for you unless you run it under QEMU or bochs. There's no way this thing could ever emulate the PSP, the PSP has dedicated 3D hardware.

I've seen this before... (4, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 6 years ago | (#24374283)

You pay $130 and when you get ten of your friends to pay $130 they send you a laptop. It's called a pyramid scheme.

End Sarcasm

Possible use (4, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 6 years ago | (#24374367)

If my wife could buy a class set of 30 (maybe a few extras), she'd be more than happy to have these for her 6th grade students. A couple of candy bar sales would do it. All they need them for is simple research on the web and basic word processing. Anything else (audio, able to show video, etc) is great, but not needed. And at $130, when one is lost (and technology in student hands always dies or gets stolen), she won't have to call in the national guard.

Crappy machines? Yes! Almost a plus in this case. So they fit a need. My guess is she's no the only with the need.

Re:Possible use (1)

Arimus (198136) | about 6 years ago | (#24374571)

Aren't these the exact same spec as the XO laptop? And so... are designed for the needs you are talking about ;)

Opportunity for investors (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 6 years ago | (#24374393)

If you have some time, and some money to invest... Say $13,000. You could buy them, sell them on ebay or Amazon for $185 a piece and make a cool $5,000 for yourself.

Wait... XO laptop? (1)

st33med (1318589) | about 6 years ago | (#24374433)

Why is this EXACTLY like the XO laptop?
Linux OS... Check
Exact Hardware Specs... Check
Insanely small screen... Check
Distributed in 100s... Check

So... is this a model number for the XO laptop? It is distributed in 100's because it is meant for schools...

I say this article wants attention that has already been reported...

I'd prefer... (2, Interesting)

Drasil (580067) | about 6 years ago | (#24374445)

I know it's a little more expensive, but I'm holding out for one of these [openpandora.org] .

This seems to be our week for clueless articles (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 6 years ago | (#24374543)

Does nobody here understand how commerce works? These are wholesale lots. (As are all the things sold on Alibaba.) This is not a $130 laptop. $250 is probably a better guess at the retail price.

Anonymous coward says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24374617)

It's barely worth $99. Think about it. The wireless is optional so you'll have to pay extra for it to be useful at all. Then there's the 7" screen which most won't be able to see. With 128MB, you'll have to update just to be able to visit most websites and most won't look right or work right as it is configured anyways. With 1 GB of storage, you won't be able to download much at all before you have to load onto another machine. Hell, my phone has 4GB!

All in all, some company bought out a lot of old useless parts, slapped them together, and is looking to pass them on to some sucker who will in turn have to pass them on to even more suckers. As configured, the only thing this computer would be good for is as a portable e-book and/or web page reader - IF you have really good eyes.

If someone does buy 100 of them, I'll give ya $50 for one though. I collect old useless computers as part of my collection.

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