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CherryPal's $99 "Odd Lots" Netbook

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the cool-approach dept.

Portables 234

Robotech_Master writes "CherryPal, which Slashdot last covered back in 2008, has released a $99 netbook, the Africa, aimed at the developing world but (unlike the OLPC) available for sale to the consumer. But unlike most netbooks, the Africa is not actually made to a set design. Instead, it uses a hacker-like approach similar to the way home PC builders build their cheap beige boxes. CherryPal purchases odd lots of whatever components are available most inexpensively, builds netbooks out of them, and calls them Africas. The resulting machines will at least meet and may exceed the minimum specs given on CherryPal's website, and may be built around an ARM, MIPS, or X86-based CPU depending on what parts CherryPal has on hand at the time. The device ships with 'at least' Windows CE or CherryPal's custom 'Green Maraschino' Debian-based Linux distro."

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In other words (4, Funny)

jyoull (512280) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523550)

they're using the "Dell Method"

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30523828)

Exactly. I don't think we can even buy beige boxes anymore...

Re:In other words (4, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523978)

Dell has NOTHING on Packard Bell. I'm not sure what happened to them, but their equipment was shit and totally random. There are a few differences with CherryPal, though.

Since CP has their own Debian distro, people won't have to wonder if their are Linux drivers for the hardware found in the system. If it ships, it works and has drivers. Packard Bell was a challenge. "Oh. They shipped one of THOSE parts this time!"

PB wasn't guaranteeing minimum specs, they were saying exact specs on CPU, RAM and HD. CP's "at least this" is an interesting idea.

Re:In other words (3, Insightful)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524022)

it's because they're *cheap* - if you want guaranteed hardware for 3 years, you buy corporate desktops and laptops: case in point - Dell have the inspiron and lattitude range of laptops. Pretty much the same thing inside usually - but the latt's are slightly better at taking abuse, fit docking stations, and *guarantee hardware for a set period*. All big vendors do this: IBM, Fujitsu, etc.

Re:In other words (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524138)

Yeah, I know. With two major exceptions, I've had fairly good luck with Dell desktops, laptops and servers.

The first they fixed, after lots and lots of threats to pull my business. It only worked because I had a $20,000+ order pending that they made good on swapping out a defective system. I wasn't interested in yet another repair.

The second is a laptop with the same issue (nVidia graphics chipset that had substrate issues and fried itself) that I just gave up on and purchased a replacement motherboard variant with the Intel chipset. Dell just insisted on sending out repair techs every month when it fried itself again. After the third time I told them never mind and purchased a motherboard from Ebay. I just won't but laptops or desktops from them ever again. Servers, okay. Other PCs, no way.

Re:In other words (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524436)

Thank you for your anecdotal evidence, it's completely useless.

Re:In other words (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524112)

PB is still around in Europe. Last year they were acquired by Acer as a ride-along from the Acer buyout of Gateway.

And yeah, their machines were the pinnacle of shittiness.

Re:In other words (1)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524136)

Oh god, the night mares, WHY DID YOU REMIND ME.

I remember fixing PBs back in the late 90's, one simple upgrade lasted over a year because the computer decided to stop working, then work again, then stop working, etc. Thank god those machines are no longer available.

Re:In other words (1)

jyoull (512280) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524236)

Wow. I had forgotten all about Packard Bell. OMG. The pain. The paaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnnnnnn.

Re:In other words (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524252)

As a former Packard Bell owner, I must agree. My Packard Bell (originally a 486 SX 20Mhz with 2MB of RAM and an 80MB hard drive) was the most non-standard thing I'd ever seen.

Motherboard form factor? Completely made up by them. It had 2 PS/2 ports in the back, a serial port, and a parallel port. It had 4 ISA slots but they were on a riser card. Not reusing this case for anything else.

Power supply? It was reminiscent of the standard AT power supply in that it was hard on/off, but that too was custom. Instead of cables attached to a switch which completed the circuit (or a switch actually on the box), this thing had a giant plastic arm that ran the length of the case from front to back and into the power supply to toggle on and off.

The memory expansion slots? It had 4 empty ones - the base 2MB of memory was soldered straight onto the board. To upgrade the thing you had to fill all 4 slots - all or nothing.

Processor upgrade? They made it an option in the stupidest way. The CPU was soldered straight into the board much like the memory was. If you wanted to upgrade the processor, they provided a SECOND CPU socket that shipped empty. You want to upgrade you had to plug a new CPU into the replacement socket and then use a jumper to tell the board to use that socket instead of the built in CPU.

I did eventually do some upgrades on it. The 80MB hard drive got moved to 800MB. I bumped the RAM from 2MB to 6MB. Put in a sound card and CD-ROM drive. I also eventually got an Intel Overdrive chip for that extra socket and moved from the 486 SX 20Mhz to a 486 DX 75Mhz (strange that a 55Mhz increase in clock speed made such a difference - back then the machine was several times faster - these days 55Mhz isn't even noticeable :)).

Still, upgrading that system always was a hassle to find things that worked. Aside from laptops, that was the last mass produced system I ever owned. I just like having the freedom to mix and match parts as I see fit.

Re:In other words (1)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524522)

Processor upgrade? They made it an option in the stupidest way. The CPU was soldered straight into the board much like the memory was. If you wanted to upgrade the processor, they provided a SECOND CPU socket that shipped empty. You want to upgrade you had to plug a new CPU into the replacement socket and then use a jumper to tell the board to use that socket instead of the built in CPU.

Packard Bell was not alone in that, though. A friend on mine had an IBM PS/ValuePoint 486SX PC with the same arrangement: processor soldered on motherboard, empty Overdrive socket for upgrades. I think Intel was to blame for that as I saw many other vendors doing the same thing, probably to sell the pricey Overdrive upgrades. It turns out that the Overdrive processors weren't any more special, though: we put a regular 486DX2 in the empty socket and the BIOS recognized it right away.

Re:In other words (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524908)

It was similar with 487 maths co-processors and their sockets.

The 486DX has a built-in co-pro, but the 486SX lines "didn't". Well they did, but it was disabled.

Boards would have 486SX (soldered on usually, but not always) and a co-pro sockets which was actually just a normal 486 socket. When you bought a 487 math co-pro unit it was actually a full 486DX - it didn't just take on the extra job like the 387 and 287 chips did, it actually took over from the 486SX chip completely. Overdrive sockets and chips were the same thing: just a standard socket and 486DX with a different label - plug it in and the motherboard turns the other processor off.

Re:In other words (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524402)

aw yeah, baby, I had gig in place standardized on 8088 Packard Bell, 10mb disk, 512k ram with Hercules graphics cards (with CGA emulator, run full color apps, in the color amber which was standard monitor's)

graphics card *had* to be plugged into slot furthest from the processor or thing would go apeshit at random times. bios would run software it liked. and if bios was cranky would overwrite portions of hard disk

Interesting (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523588)

I first heard about these via the white African [whiteafrican.com] (a tech guy in Nairobi). There is some interesting discussion there that revolved around capabilities, how realistic the $99 price point is outside the developed world and durability.
 
Getting these in the U.S. at $99 is pretty easy, but could one get them into an African country at that price? Max Seybold says yes, but I'd like to see it first. Then the question is how well it will sell, even at that price point when up against used hardware with better specs.
 
I'm all for more choices at the lower end of things. And I think this product is great even if for nothing more than the conversations it can generate that will bring more awareness about the needs in developing countries. But ultimately I wonder if this kind of thing is just a stop gap anyway until cheap smart phones and reliable data access are global.

Re:Interesting (0, Flamebait)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524378)

> I think this product is great even if for nothing more
> than the conversations it can generate that will bring
> more awareness about the needs in developing countries.

These so-called "developing" countries were doing just fine, and had a lot less problems *before* we had *any* awareness of their existence.

Re:Interesting (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524744)

These so-called "developing" countries were doing just fine, and had a lot less problems *before* we had *any* awareness of their existence.

Yes, but since then the damage has been done, and I think the "developed" world bears some responsibility for cleaning up the mess it created.

Re:Interesting (1)

rpbird (304450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524442)

Outside the core cities, poverty is so intense in rural areas, I don't see this device getting to the people who could actually benefit from it.

seems a bit pricey (4, Insightful)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523592)

Considering you can get legit hardware in a netbook now for around $200, getting what is essentially a bag o' crap for half that isn't much of deal.

Re:seems a bit pricey (3, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523620)

Even worst, a bag o' random crap.

Re:seems a bit pricey (5, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523818)

A bag of random crap shouldn't cost more than a dollar. But at that price, I'd buy three.

Re:seems a bit pricey (4, Insightful)

b0bby (201198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524026)

And you'd pay five bucks shipping...

Re:seems a bit pricey (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30525164)

Pay additional shippiing and processing, and they'll double your order!

Re:seems a bit pricey (4, Informative)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523892)

Depends on how easy the crap is to swap out of the bag.

$200 and no ability to fix things is way worse than $99 and an easy way to replace what breaks. Especially in Africa, where everything breaks, and jury-rigged fixes are the norm.

Re:seems a bit pricey (-1, Troll)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523954)

Which is why they call it the Africa... it's jury-rigged to begin with.

Re:seems a bit pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30525094)

Nice avoidance of the n word fellas.

Re:seems a bit pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30523986)

Especially in Africa, where everything breaks...

Are you saying that out of any extensive experience or did you just pull that little factoid out of your bum?

Re:seems a bit pricey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524594)

Let's see... the rare presence of air conditioning means fluctuates in temperature and humidity and virtually ensures high levels of particulates (dust, grit, etc). In addition to this, the spotty electrical service available outside of large cities is not particularly good for electronics.

Failure rates should be higher in the absence of any mitigating factors (e.g., the buyers being more careful than American consumers with their investment).

Re:seems a bit pricey (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524034)

well, if you get consistent hardware at least you can cannibalise one machine that's died to fix a few others that have gone faulty. If you get random crap then you can't do this. $200 and standard hardware that you can swap out is probably better than $99 and you can't fix it.

Re:seems a bit pricey (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524064)

It seems CherryPal's netbook kind of goes against that jury-rigging fact. If there's dozens of types of parts, you probably won't be able to make one working laptop from a few non-working ones. Unless CherryPal planned for that, of course.

Woot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524126)

If it's a Bag o' Crap, I'll take 3!

Re:seems a bit pricey (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524258)

Considering you can get legit hardware in a netbook now for around $200, getting what is essentially a bag o' crap for half that isn't much of deal.

It's half the price. I think that's a big deal, if the $100 hardware will service your needs.

Some people don't consider a $500 Apple Mac Mini a big deal. But sometimes, I buy one second hand for $250. Why? Because it's half the price.

You can also think of it some other way. Put the savings in your pension. You'll be glad when you're 80 and you can afford a beautiful blonde Swedish girl to wipe your ass.

Re:seems a bit pricey (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524504)

And if all I want to do is surf the web, check e-mail, read e-books, and write, hell, a 2-pound Africa will be a hell of a lot better than the 8 pound Toshiba Satellite laptop I currently have. And at $100, it will be cheaper than even the cheapest iPod Touch. It's not like I'm going to be rendering Avatar on it or something.

Hmm, I wonder if I can cherry-pick parts (4, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523616)

I wonder, if I'm willing to wait or pay extra, can I specify parts, like "any x86" or "anything but x86"?

Re:Hmm, I wonder if I can cherry-pick parts (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30523682)

Cherry-pick your Cherry-pal? Genius!

Re:Hmm, I wonder if I can cherry-pick parts (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523778)

Quantity 1? Probably not.

Quantity 100+ I suspect they'd be more than happy to talk.

I said for an extra fee (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524012)

I can't imagine them turning down an extra $20, especially if I'm willing to be on backorder.

Re:I said for an extra fee (1)

lambent (234167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524108)

if your $20 is more than their cost in labour to accommodate your request, then yes. typically, however, the marginal cost of one-off requests is just too much.

I can't wait to see this avaialble in the UK (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523640)

I can't wait to see this avaialble in the UK just to see how much it will cost. I bet about £120 about $190.

Re:I can't wait to see this avaialble in the UK (3, Informative)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524216)

Actually, according to their website, they'll ship anywhere in the world for $19 flat rate shipping. So it will cost whatever $119 comes out to in pounds whenever you order it.

Re:I can't wait to see this avaialble in the UK (1)

Maddog Batty (112434) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524816)

plus 17.5% VAT (I doubt that they would be able to get one sent over before the new year).

£87 total http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=119%24+x+1.175+in+%C2%A3 [google.co.uk]

Not bad. Might think about getting one.

Re:I can't wait to see this avaialble in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524962)

Plus customs/vat/wtfe else the govt wants to charge that day.

cool (4, Insightful)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523652)

That's not bad for an open device that will run hostap. At that price, these are essentially disposable. 1800mah is fully powerable by a 28 watt solar charger. You could build motion capture field cameras or something out of them. I love it when tech gets cheap.

Re:cool (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524416)

That's not bad for an open device that will run hostap.

Most NICs won't work in Master mode, only a couple of spendy intel NICs using ndiswrapper and a handful of the Atheros ones are really known to do it faithfully. That eliminates a lot of the value right there, if you don't know what you'll be getting. And no, USB to WiFi is not acceptable, especially with so little processor. On the other hand, they're still hitting a price point that nobody else seems to be covering yet, in spite of numerous promises to do so at various trade shows.

It's the anti-apple (0, Flamebait)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523666)

They're slogan should be "works with nothing." How can you develop much of anything with such a shotgun approach to hardware. It's more like a phone family than a computer. I'm sure it can be done, but nothing will run quickly (since everything has to be interpreted for the processor installed) unless it's compiled across all chipsets. Talk about a driver support nightmare.

This would be good for the hacker kids of the 1970s/1980s - lots of time to play around, no mature apps (that cost less than $1000), and no real expectation that you could get real work done on a small computer.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523802)

I'm sure it can be done, but nothing will run quickly (since everything has to be interpreted for the processor installed) unless it's compiled across all chipsets.

You can probably write the application in an interpreted dynamic language and make it fast enough if your interpreter and libraries are compiled for all chips. That's the point of developing in Python or JavaScript.

Re:It's the anti-apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524804)

Or Android, which runs on ARM and x86, and there's probably a MIPS port as well. The apps are Dalvik VM / Hybrid Java/Touch/Google things.

http://www.mips.com/android/ [mips.com] yup

Re:It's the anti-apple (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523808)

Have you ever heard of linux?

Debian (the basis of Ubuntu and by the sounds of TFA the basis of the cherrypal distro) has most applications compiled across very many architectures. It's already in place, drivers for a lot of stuff will be in the kernel. No problem!

(well, not quite, but it does help).

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524044)

I'm sure you'd love the job of installing it on 50 of these at a time, all full of random crappy old hardware.

Re:It's the anti-apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524374)

Actually, yes, I would. What kind of geek are you to refuse an such an offer??

Re:It's the anti-apple (2, Interesting)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524554)

Seriously? You have nothing better to do than repeatedly install an OS on different hardware? I'd rather play with my arduino...

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524862)

Well, you did say the "job", as in 'paid', right? In this economy? Seriously? I think you'd have geeks lined up around the corner for the opportunity.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524558)

Sudo apt-get install (package name)
Repeat 50X.
And the hardship is... where?

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524980)

Actually, apt-get on one box.

Then do

dpkg --get-selections > my-packages

Copy the my-packages file to the new machine. Then do

dpkg --set-selections my-packages

Then run dselect and choose the option that installs selected packages.

*if* you happen to be on the same architecture, you can copy the deb files from /var/cache/apt/archives to the target machine too, or make it available via a network share, and save on re-downloading them.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524854)

The bulk of the installs can automated. Once you have a boot environment up with SSH, a remote script can handle the actual install process. Most of the random hardware can still be autodetected in a lot of distros. Sure, it'll take a while, but most of the work is really just watching a script run. I can think of worse ways to spend my day (like babysitting a SQL Server 2008 install).

Re:It's the anti-apple (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524898)

Why would you do that?

These things are going to be built in batches, not in one-off weird configs. If I'm reading it right. There may be a bit of work every time the hardware changes, sure, it's not a trivial thing, but I didn't get the impression that every one was going to be a unique snowflake.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

sandmaninator (884661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523820)

Nice sig. One who complains about stupid people ought to know how to spell...

Re:It's the anti-apple (4, Informative)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523936)

How can you develop much of anything with such a shotgun approach to hardware...This would be good for the hacker kids of the 1970s/1980s - lots of time to play around, no mature apps (that cost less than $1000), and no real expectation that you could get real work done on a small computer.

How do we develop programs for anything? We have OSes that run on LOTS of different sets of hardware, and there are lots of programs that run across lots of different OSes. We talk about these daily on Slashdot: Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, Pidgin... the list goes on and on. And there is no way you can call any of those apps NOT mature.

Re:It's the anti-apple (2, Insightful)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524048)

You assume they need to offer binary compatibility for different architectures; they don't. You install everything from the repositories, which will have ARM, x86/x86_64, MIPS etc versions for everything; and those versions will have been tested by the large Debian community for each architecture. All that is needed is source-code compatibility, which is usually ensured in FLOSS.

Now, WinCE is another beast. I have no idea about their plans for that; but in Linux, there is no problem with this strategy.

Re:It's the anti-apple (2)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524070)

You're a time cocker. I bet you own an iMac or something. Listen, you can enjoy your shiny white commercial stuff which 'just works'. But don't try to discourage others.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524156)

I'd like to add, I was mostly joking with my post. But I do think that just because something doesn't seem useful or appealing to you, it doesn't mean that it won't be useful for others. Not everybody is a web designer/graphic artist/gamer.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

jruschme (76180) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524174)

The problem is that you are thinking of it as a general-purpose computer rather than an appliance.

Look at it this way- I go to Best Buy and purchase a particular model of wireless router; it is version 'n' of the hardware and runs a Linux core. The next week, I go to Staples and purchase another of the exact same brand and model of router, only to receive version 'n+1' which now runs VxWorks. Both meet the same functional specifications as outlined on the package and both have the same configuration GUI. Nowhere was I guaranteed that I would get a Linux-based router.

Its the same here. Each Africa may have different internal hardware, but that is all hidden by running different ports of the same OS and applications and only guaranteeing the same minimal functional level. The issue comes when a power user decides to move beyond the installed functionality by adding a software package which is not available for the archtecture of his specific Africa (ever try to find modern CE software for anything other than ARM?), but this is not the target audience of the device.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524222)

It is funny that you post on /. and yet have no idea how hardware and OS's work together. Or are you just typing cause you could find nothing better to do?

Re:It's the anti-apple (4, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524432)

They're slogan should be "works with nothing."

Dew knot truss yore spill chucker.

Re:It's the anti-apple (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30525118)

Remind me how many processors, not to mention operating systems, graphics chipsets and so on has the Mac been across, again?

CherryPal Bing... hmm... (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523678)

That's an interesting laptop. Looks like a rip-off of the polycarbonate MacBook, sounds like a rip-off of the Microsoft search engine. I predict FAIL.

Re:CherryPal Bing... hmm... (0)

randallman (605329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523996)

Valid points. However, you're overlooking the significance of the $99 price point. This is what should be defined as a netbook instead of the $400 + options we've been calling netbooks. I'm impressed that they got wireless g and a 4 hour battery at this price. And the specs are very usable for a Linux distro. Use Abiword and Gnumeric instead of openoffice and firefox 3.5 is pretty zippy. That'll take care of most users. It probably doesn't have enough speed to handle flash, but what does. How's gnash coming these days?

These would do well if they could get them in Walmart. $99 for many people is not a large purchase and many people would pick them up as an extra "surf from the couch" laptop. I hope there continues to be a sub $100 laptop. Next year, maybe it will be a cortex A9 with some 3d graphics capabilities, wireless n and a 20G SSD. And maybe we'll even see models close to $70.

Re:CherryPal Bing... hmm... (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30525018)

The Bing isn't $99, it's $350. I confused the issue by referring to another laptop by the same manufacturer. Either way they look like a cheap fly-by-night operation. The picture of the Bing machine (which appears to be their flagship) has got the protective plastic coating still on the screen, but half peeled-off at the corner.

My momma always said, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30523726)

"Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Re:My momma always said, (1)

Atomm (945911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523890)

Momma always said, "If you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all."

You sir, should listen to Momma....

I have a feeling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30523814)

that the Nigerian scam emails are going to be increasing in volume soon.

Specs (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30523854)

they are:
a 400 MHz processor
256 MB RAM,
2 GB flash memory,
Ethernet,
Wi-Fi,
2xUSB
a 7 screen

(from here [whiteafrican.com] ) as the links are down

Re:Specs (1)

Steve Max (1235710) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524304)

That's the minimum specs. They get whatever they can above that; looks like currently, they're offering a 1.6GHz CPU (Atom, probably), 10.2' screen and 160GB HDD.

Re:Specs (2, Informative)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524606)

They were when they started shipping them, according to Max's blog post.. They could be offering anything at this point. The only thing they guarantee is that you'll get at least those minimum specs. They don't guarantee that you'll get anything better, but they say you probably will.

My gut feeling is that you'll almost always come out ahead of the minimum specs on at least one or two facets (like, you might get a better processor if nothing else, or more disk space if nothing else) just because given how prices fluctuate on parts it would be impossible for them to exactly meet the minimum without specifically trying. They would deliberately have set the minimum to be a fallback position that they knew for a fact they could always better at that price range.

Slashdotted (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523868)

may be built around an ARM, MIPS, or X86-based CPU depending on what parts CherryPal has on hand at the time

I believe this also goes for their webserver, which is now in its last death throes.

Niche Market (3, Insightful)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523934)

If you:

1. Have a 2 year-old who's obsessed with daddy's laptop who really needs his own so he'll stop bugging you
2. AND you don't want to have to hunt on ebay for an OLPC child-proof laptop that costs the same as it did when it was purchased two years ago
3. AND you don't want to pay over $100 for something that will get destroyed in the first 6 months of usage

Then it's not a bad deal.

Re:Niche Market (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524336)

1. Have a 2 year-old who's obsessed with daddy's laptop who really needs his own so he'll stop bugging you

My 18 month old niece has this fascination and I found a far cheaper solution - she plays (supervised - usually I'm sitting with her) with my old broken laptop. It was in the junk drawer anyways (all the salvageable parts were recycled) and she just seems more interested in banging on the keys than seeing anything on screen, so it's all good.

Even at $99 I still don't think I'd turn her loose on a working laptop :).

ARM/MIPS or X86? (2, Insightful)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30523982)

Oh come on. For heaven's sake at least standardise on an architecture. I've no problem with some hardware variance (although god help you if you want to image the things) but completely different architectures? It's like feeding Africa by posting out half-eaten leftovers rather than aid parcels.

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (1)

woodcutter (147550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524154)

Sorry, your asking Max to make up his mind . . .?

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524196)

I'd be more concerned about the prospect of getting a mix of linux and WinCE, myself.

Obviously, none of your standard corporate IT minion strategies are going to work with this stuff; but I'd take a mix of architectures, all running linux, over a bunch of machines of a single architecture, running a mix of linux and WinCE.

Once you get beyond the bootloader, debian/X86 feels almost the same as debian/ARM. WinCE feels like neither linux nor real windows.

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (3, Informative)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524372)

You specify which OS you want at time of order, in the "order instructions" box. If you say "give me all Linux, please" they'll do it for you.

Windows might be more of a standardization issue. From reading between the lines in their blog post (where Max said you'd get "at least" Windows CE, but not Vista or 7), I got the feeling that you might get either Windows CE or Windows XP, depending on which OS the processor they had available that day would support.

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524276)

Personally, I think it's kind of neat that they can make cheap machines out of literally whatever they can get their hands on. It's kind of like something Cory Doctorow would write.

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524308)

Actually, that happens a fair amount in the 1st world food industry where they use whatever commodity ingredient is cheapest at the time. That's why you see ingrediant labels stating "may contain one or more of the following: soybean oil, sunflower oil, lard, peanut oil" etc.

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524370)

....and I wouldn't have a problem if some shipped with RAM made by Hynix, some by Micron - it's functionally the same. If it said "may contain one of more of the following: soybean oil, sunflower oil or boiled stoat" then I'd have an issue. Get my drift?

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524912)

You hate ARM and MIPS? Is that what you're getting at?

Re:ARM/MIPS or X86? (1)

glop (181086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524398)

That's a bit extreme I agree, but at the same time, it's pretty manageable with Debian:
  - install software the same way : check (apt-get install)
  - browse web : check (firefox, html and javascript and no freaking ActiveX to require a specific arch)
  - write you own architecture independent programs : check (shell scripts, python, perl, javascript)
  - word processing/spreadsheet: check (gnumeric and abiword for instance)

I have done real work on much slower hardware and I don't think the architecture really matters that much. It could be an issue for large installs (say a school district) but for individuals with little money and a lot of time it doesn't seem like an issue.

Also, please note that the DIY potential is pretty good (USB master, CPU, screen, small size etc.) and even American DIYers might welcome this. It's the price of 2 Arduinos and much cheaper than a buglabs main unit.

Finally, the site is slashdotted, so it really looks like a great marketting idea ;-)
 

This is democratisation of hardware (4, Interesting)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524228)

It's what the OLPC should have been.
Commodity hardware, whatever's cheapest.
And a Linux-based OS to boot (no pun intended).
For f***s sake - how easy they do it - and OLPC had to make things so freaking difficult.
Obama - please give your spare bank-bailout cash to these guys and get less developed nations on-line before we all go to hell...

Re:This is democratisation of hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524496)

I don't understand how less developed nations being online will prevent us from going to hell... sorry but I live in one of the most tech'd out areas of the world and I'm still about to get laid off.

Re:This is democratisation of hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524726)

Stop bragging about getting laid.

Re:This is democratisation of hardware (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524500)

"It's what the OLPC should have been.
Commodity hardware, whatever's cheapest.
And a Linux-based OS"

OLPC is that and more: sunlight readable screen, robust, wireless mesh networking, even more energy efficient than this "Africa" device.

Re:This is democratisation of hardware (1)

Tsujiku (902045) | more than 4 years ago | (#30525078)

And more expensive to boot.

Re:This is democratisation of hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524704)

WTF is giving these people shitty little computers going to accomplish? Why not invest the money in reversing desertification? [unu.edu]

Might be worthwhile (cache!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524348)

This sounds kind of great, actually. If the site wasn't slashdotted.

I've been waiting for a netbook to come out that meets my stringent standards. (price < $200USD, standard keyboard layout, decent battery life, pocket-size/not much bigger than a paperback book) Maybe cutting that price in half will loosen my ideals on some other parts. Unlikely, but possible.

Go go Google Cache! [74.125.95.132]

Come on, trolls. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30524364)

Isn't it obvious? Hacked together from whatever parts are available. It's called the Africa. I am hugely disappointed that I am the first to christen it the Nigger-Rigged Netbook. The only thing that could make this any better is if they came pre-installed with Niggerbuntu.

Re:Come on, trolls. (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524690)

This troll is oddly on-topic. I actually did point this out earlier, but without the use of the "N" word.

They will get buried in returns (5, Interesting)

joeflies (529536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524452)

It doesn't matter that everyone will get at least the minimum configuration. What will happen is that people will find out what the other guy got (posting their configs on the net), and then anyone who didn't get as good of a configuration will return it and get another until they get one with similar spec as the best one out.

How do i get one (3, Interesting)

robinstar1574 (1472559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524534)

I can't find out how to get one of these, but I have made a habit of buying one of each major computer posted on slashdot. How do i get one of these?

Re:How do i get one (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524764)

Wait for the Slashdotting to die down and their webserver to come back up. Then place your order via the store on their website. They take credit cards or Western Union. Be sure and specify in the "order instructions" textbox whether you want Windows or Linux.

Server slashdotted (1)

uncle-pepe (597370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524784)

It would be nice if they used a server with more horsepower than a "CherryPal" Africa. Good luck getting any info from their website.

Re:Server slashdotted (1)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524918)

Because, of course, we all know that Slashdotting lasts forever, and the site will now be gone for all eternity.

Or maybe it's just that Slashdot readers have the attention span of a fruit fly. :P

Can that really be cost effective? (2, Interesting)

AusIV (950840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30524994)

I always thought the reason it was cheaper to build a system from parts than buy a pre-built box was just a matter of scale. It's not hard to find a handful of parts that are on sale because they're beginning to be antiquated and retailers are trying to get rid of them, but I always assumed the price I paid for the parts was still above the normal wholesale price.

I can imagine that in bulk and with the right connections, you might be able to get these parts a bit below the normal wholesale price. The thing I have trouble with, is the idea that you can get enough of a discount to offset the cost of supporting random hardware configurations and software for several different CPU architectures.

Is this really cost effective?

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