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Intel to Make Cheap Flash Laptop

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the where-have-i-heard-this-before dept.

Intel 202

sien writes "In a similar vein to the One Laptop Per Child computer Intel have announced that they intend to produce a similar cheap laptop using flash storage.The entry of Intel and the declaration that Microsoft intend to get Windows running on the One Laptop Per Child machine suggests that there may be a general market for a cheap, robust laptop without hard drive or optical storage."

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Um...ya, (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129626)

Didnt theu already try this, and failed?

Re:Um...ya, (2, Funny)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130280)

Didnt theu already try this, and failed?

I think the project is doing ok. I've seen one in person. It has 2GB of flash memory, a 200mhz processor, a Microsoft OS and high speed wireless internet. It happens to also be one of the most portable computers I've ever seen. They didn't get it down to $100, but even with the storage upgrade it was only about $350. I think they called it a Cingular 8125.

Nice machine, and it even makes phone calls.


Re:Um...ya, (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130824)

Hey, you're teasing me, aren't you? I'm supposed to be getting that exact model sometime this week for work, to replace our 957's.

I'm told that as a business customer, we're actually getting the units for free with the usual 2-year contract.

OMG! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17129628)

first pwn!!!

Strange new world. (3, Insightful)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129642)

Microsoft and inexpensive seems like an odd combination to me. Same goes for flash drives. Durable? Yes. Cheap? No.

Re:Strange new world. (2, Informative)

melonman (608440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129748)

In my experience of an embedded linux application using CF for storage, the CF wasn't especially durable if you thrash it like a hard disc. Surely the main point of using this form of storage is to reduce power consumption, which either means much longer battery life or (probably in this case) much cheaper batteries. It also helps to get to a point where you don't need a fan, which in turn means less moving parts and less holes in the case for the monsoon to pour through.

CF-based systems and swapping (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131216)

Just out of curiosity, were you using the CF as swap space? I can imagine it wouldn't last long under those conditions, particularly if the system was also RAM-starved (or any situation where RAM working set). But as a regular hard drive, it seems like it ought to be okay for a while (though I suppose you'd want to disable logging, too, as much as possible). How fast were your systems failing?

I've often wondered how CF or other limited-write systems handle swapping and memory-management. It seems like it introduces a whole new set of trade-offs; in addition to the usual speed vs. cost and speed vs. space on disk trade-offs, you also have to deal with speed vs. system life.

Re:Strange new world. (1)

bcmbyte (996126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130006)

Microsoft is almost never inexpensive, but M$ sure seems to be leaders in making profit in just about everything they do. Just as with the XBox, they enter the market, price their goods, make a profit and laugh all the way to the bank.

Re:Strange new world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130428)

Cheap-ness is relative. Generally, flash drives are more expensive than standard platter based hard drives on a $/GB scale... however in making this OLPC, they need to go by total cost. So although a $60 100GB laptop drive is a better value, a $10 1GB flash drive falls in line with overall budget.

This also doesnt take into account for size and other components needed to operate an IDE/SATA/scsi controller versus an onboard flash drive (which could share other components, such as the usb controller).

Flash cheap? No? Yes? (2, Interesting)

yabHuj (10782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130526)

No: Flash is more expensive per GB when measured in quantities.

Yes: look at PDA memorey requirements, or PCs just for Mail, Web and a bit of letter writing - there 1 GB is plenty. And in Flash still cheaper than the cheapest HD (80GB or where is the cheapest HD nowadays?)

Well it really should be... (1)

fury88 (905473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130566)

Same goes for flash drives. Durable? Yes. Cheap? No. Durable? No. Cheap? Yes. Flash drives IMO aren't that durable but they are pretty inexpensive I think. Depends on the type I guess.

Re:Well it really should be... (1)

Wite_Noiz (887188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130992)

I think he was referring to no moving parts and cost per GB. Using these criteria, flash is less likely to fail from careless usage and much more expensive per GB. However, the maximum writes per block (albeit approx. 1 million in high-end flash) might be a limiting factor. If you think about how much HDD work any OS performs when doing normal work, the lifetime of these 'drives' is significantly lower than a physical HDD. As soon as some of the newer flash tech becomes commercial viable, things are going to get very interesting for the HDD market, though (oh, the speed!)

Re:Strange new world. (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130958)

ah but you forget that in markets outside of desktop Windows PC's( all other markets ) Microsoft has lost billions and has paid companies/businesses to use their products. They've lost over $8 billion on Windows CE, they are losing billions on Xbox, they plan on losing billions on Zune. Granted, they've only been willing to deal with the OEM or distributor with regards to moving money to them for pushing the product but it shows Microsoft is willing to use its billions in monopoly money to purchase marketshare.

Don't be surprised to see Microsoft subsidizing an MS One Laptop Per Kid project to get kids hooked on Windows instead of some other product. Intel may be looking to get back in bed with Microsoft to get more Intel chips in devices. If only to limit AMDs marketshare since profits are going to be slim in these. And IMO, Negroponte's willingness to 'work with' Microsoft is foolish. His and their goals are polar opposites and helping Microsoft in any way will only help destroy his project. IMO.


Robust? (3, Insightful)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129650)

Isn't the weakest point of a laptop the LCD screen rather than the hard-disk?

Re:Robust? (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130234)

Probably, but this isn't a chain that's only as strong as it's weakest link. If you can cut costs on hard disks, but not on LCDs, you're still saving money.

Re:Robust? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130536)

And if you'd stop putting apostrophes where they don't belong you could have saved a byte in that post.

Re:Robust? (2, Insightful)

mce (509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130338)

In my experience, the 2 weakest links are the disk and the hinges of the screen. Personally, I've only had disk problems, but looking back at the company laptop problems I've seen, the hinges (that is: including the electrical connections inside) probably come close in second place.

In terms of "what can you do about it that the customer is willing to pay for", the disk is by far at the top of the list. Apart from the complete newbies, customers do understand that there are major risks involved in disk failure. They also feel the heat and hear the noise. So they're willing to fork over a few extra greenbacks to get a no-heat, no-noise, no-mechanical breakage replacement solution. There's no way you're going to convince them to pay more for better designed more robust hinges, however. Besides, no vendor will want to admit to having done a bad job on those in the past.

Re:Robust? (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130672)

the 2 weakest links are the disk and the hinges of the screen.
And the batteries. Three. The three weakest links are the disc, the screen hinges, the battery and the keyboard.

Re:Robust? (3, Funny)

werfele (611119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130934)

Three. The three weakest links are the disc, the screen hinges, the battery and the keyboard.
Amongst the weakest links are such diverse elements as the disc, the screen hinges, the battery, the keyboard and the nub thingy pointing device.

Re:Robust? (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131270)

Three. The three weakest links are the disc, the screen hinges, the battery and the keyboard.

Amongst the weakest links are such diverse elements as the disc, the screen hinges, the battery, the keyboard and the nub thingy pointing device.
Don't forget an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms...

why? (0, Redundant)

ocean_soul (1019086) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129690)

Why would they want to give every child a laptop? Aren't there a lot of children with more urgent needs?

Re:why? (3, Informative)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129838)

Yes, but these companies don't make their money on food or shelter.

Most of the OLPCs are going to countries where the people have shelter and food and water, but are in desperate need of decent education.

Plus I'd love a small laptop I could play simple games or read web-pages on while I had nothing better to do. I have a pocket pc, but software is lacking for it and typing on it is a pain. (I'm not a child btw)

Re:why? (-1, Flamebait)

aliendisaster (1001260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129858)

"Intel Plans to give Every Child Food"

Naw. Doesn't sound as good as a publicity stunt. Truth is, no one really cares about the starving children. Sure everyone will say they do, but they really don't. People are selfish and see this just as a way they can get a cheaper laptop in the future. They really don't care about the children.

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130828)

Those of us who actually want to help the third world are against simply giving them food. If you're going to give them anything, you give them what they need to produce food. Otherwise people just have more babies because they're healthier, they're even further beyond their ability to feed themselves, and now you have MORE mouths to feed. Or children to die of starvation.

Giving them computers, if done properly, is giving the gift of education. The only way out is through.

There's this thing called the INTERNET, where... (4, Informative)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129938)

...you can look up stuff.

Might I recommend the OLPC home page [laptop.org] for starters - which is where you end up if you type "one laptop per child" in pretty much any search engine (or your browser's search bar, if you have one)?

Take ten seconds to learn about something before commenting on it, and you will look like a genius compared to most people around here. Your question is answered in the WIKI [laptop.org], and probably about ten thousand other places already.

Re:There's this thing called the INTERNET, where.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130448)

Take ten seconds to learn about something before commenting on it, and you will look like a genius compared to most people around here.
Sssssh, don't give away our secrets!

Re:There's this thing called the INTERNET, where.. (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130618)

Wow, you aren't full of yourself. Much. Why isn't the program called OLPCWAHFAS?[1] I read around the site and they come accross as middle class ninnies solving the wrong problem in the wrong way.

[1] Work it out yourselves, I can't be arsed.

Re:There's this thing called the INTERNET, where.. (1)

socalmtb (235850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130886)

There's this thing called the INTERNET, where... ...you can look up stuff.

Re:There's this thing called the INTERNET, where.. (1)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130892)

It was a legitimate question. There's no reason reason to chastise him for asking it. I think the fact that he read the origional article and was reading through the comments was proof enough that he was already taking time to learn about the subject.

One good thing about article submiters is that in addition to a link, they also give you a summary. You can learn enough to know whether or not to click the link, and sometimes the summary itself is good enough to tell you what you need.

It's nice that you took the time to tell that guy where to find information, but you could have helped him, and the rest of us, by giving us the short version in your post. It could have kept us on site reading other insightful comments and "you will look like a genius compared to most people around here."


Re:why? (4, Funny)

errxn (108621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129952)

Come on, what could *possibly* be more important than making sure every child in this country can post mindless drivel on their MySpace account at any time?

Re:why? (5, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130308)

Each charitable group should work with their ability. If you are good at clothes, then so be it. If you are good at food, then so be it. Computer companies are good with computers. Duh! Right? So, solve that need. The needs of these poor countries go beyond just food, water and shelter. They need education so they can lift themselves out of poverty. And since this world is becoming heavily computerized, give them the tools that will benefit them. I fully support any effort to get computers to the poor.

Very insightful comment. I wish I had mod points. (1)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130714)

Everytime this discussion comes up someone asks why computers should be sent when there are other needs. Your comment was direct and to the point. I only wish I had been the one to make it. :)

We fixed that part already... (1)

pointbeing (701902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130472)

Aren't there a lot of children with more urgent needs?
I haven't seen a lot of this in the tech journals but I understand that almost all of the laptop's components are edible - so not only will giving every child a laptop improve social networking it'll also keep third world kids from starving to death.

Need food? Don't have any of that but here's a laptop.

thank you, moderators! (no really, I mean it) (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130706)

Note that this got a funny mod. It is funny, because every time one of these stories comes up, someone makes a comment like that, and then we get a brand new flamewar about this topic.

I think an appropriate solution to comments like the parent is to alternatively mod them "funny" and "redundant", which to my mind, are both true. (Certainly the latter is.) Do it long enough and you can drive their karma into the basement :P

It would also be accurate to mod it flamebait but that one's harder to have come through metamod.

Third computer offered by India (1)

Utopia (149375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129738)

a third computer being offered by an Indian company
Any idea what company this is?
And what computer is being offered?

Re:Third computer offered by India (1)

jambarama (784670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130078)

Competition will only serve customers. If there are three vendors selling the equivalent of an OLPC, it can only help the governments/poor looking to buy these things. The companies will have to compete on services and price, which is good. That is, so long as no one vendor can put excessive pressure (think bribes/threats) on buyers.

As much as I don't like Microsoft cruft they deserve a chance to get into these markets as much as anyone else, so long as they don't get into these markets by using illicit means. Plus, the OLPC project does have a significant headstart, and they have thought about the project very carefully. I can see a poorly executed Microsoft Windows CE implementation failing pretty miserably.

Re:Third computer offered by India (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131240)

Microsoft does not "DESERVE A CHANCE" IMO and I will say that you will win the lottery before Microsoft actually competes in a way we'd a business to compete( ie better, faster, cheaper, etc ). They've never done this and nothing has shown that they've experienced some kind of epiphany which moves them to being truely competitive. IMO.

It is good to see others attempting to join the market for enabling the worlds kids.


I think it's too expensive. (2, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129754)

Afterall, I can get a Toshiba Satellite with 512M RAM, 60G hardrive, 15.4 screen for 400 bucks from Best Buy.

Plus, it's too big to be a PDA, too small to be a usable laptop. Maybe a decent movie player, but that seems about it.

Re:I think it's too expensive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17129996)


Making it durable and low power may add to the cost, but when you consider how much they're taking out of a standard laptop (screen size, drives, ports) that price seems ridiculous.

Re:I think it's too expensive. (1)

algoweb rulez (1036372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130730)

in some countries 400$ is more than a month's wage... so maybe your toshiba is kind of unaffordable

My point... (2, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130884)

My point was that if I were to spend 400 dollars (which, BTW, is what the Intel Classmate PC costs with much less onboard), why on earth wouldn't I buy a full-fledged laptop?

400 dollars is still 400 dollars, whether for a scaled down laptop or for a full-blown laptop.

Re:I think it's too expensive. (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130822)

No, you can't get a Toshiba Satellite with 512M RAM, 60G hardrive, 15.4 screen for 400 bucks from Best Buy. Alright, sometimes you can. But they are always out of stock of the cheapest laptops. A lucky few actually get those laptops.

I called Best Buy yesterday looking for that laptop is how I know. From what I've seen lately (I've been shopping for a cheap ass laptop), if you go out to buy a laptop right now, you'll pay $600 minimum for a new laptop - not refurb, not counting rebates, and including tax.

Total Rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17129764)

Obviously Intel & MS are feeling lonely after this One per Child thing and want to play to!
I might add that even in the UK wholesalers are selling New(i.e. not used) machines with old specs for
£225 +VAT which is around the $400. Why would anyone purposely go out and buy one of these knobbled efforts when there are plenty already about? Doh! My Brain Hurts!!!

Cheapness aside.... (5, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129766)

If I could buy a drop in flash memory replacement for my laptop's hard drive and the economics made sense (say US$500 for a 20gig device), I'd buy it tomorrow. 99% of the data that I use could easily be fit in that amount of space and if it didn't, I could keep relatively cheap removable flash cards around for data that I need once in a blue moon. The increase in battery life, decrease in heat, and decrease in noise would be well worth the additional expense for me.

Re:Cheapness aside.... (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129944)

Pick up two 8GB iPod Nanos for $250 each and duct tape them onto your laptop. As an added bonus, you can RAID them! Sure, it's not 20GB, but at 16GB it's not too bad... : p

Re:Cheapness aside.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130110)

I've seen plug and play 8GB ATA-66 devices in a 2.5" laptop form factor for in the US$300 range. RAID0 of 3 of those is a bit more expensive than US$500, but I suspect the day we'll see a 20GB drop-in replacement for a mechanical hard drive for a few hundred bucks isn't too far in the future.

Re:Cheapness aside.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130174)

It's a moot point now. The newest Segate laptop hard drives do an incredible job now.

I replaced the drive in my D640 with a 100gig seagate low power 5400 rpm model and the laptop runs cooler and I get longer run times. Also you cant hear the thing spin anymore. You used to almost burn your hand on the spot where the hdd was now it's only warm to the touch.

Upgrade to a decent laptop drive with current tech. Most laptop makers shove low grade crap in there to keep profits up. (dell certainly does as well as HP)

Re:Cheapness aside.... (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130830)

You aren't going to fix the biggest power draws, that would be the CPU and screen. The Pmax of a notebook hard drive is 2.5 W, typical power draw may be 1W. For a typical notebook, if you make a drive that doesn't take any power, I think you would increase battery life increase by maybe ten minutes.

I have not had a problem with hard drive noise. My notebooks hard drives are nearly silent if they make any noise audible to me at all. The CPU fans are a little louder, but still that's not very loud.

Excellent idea! (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129800)

It would be even better if they could put it in a truly portable format. With flash it could even be an instant-on type device! To make it small, and inexpensive, they should keep the screen size and resolution low. MS could probably develop a smaller footprint of win/outlook/office. I'm sure Adobe could slim down their reader a bit. They might even consider going to a "tablet"-like format with a miniture keyboard.

Of course, to be really innovative, they could add wireless and connectivity to the cell high-speed data networks. God, this could be awesome! [cingular.com]. Oh, right; so much for cutting edge, I guess.

Re:Excellent idea! (1)

zullnero (833754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130636)

Google the term "Sony UX-50 Palm". Check out the images too. ;)

Yeah, there's a market for personal flash storage computers. Unfortunately, it's small and crowded. However, when it comes to handheld industrial PDAs, the market becomes a lot bigger.

No sense. (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129802)

As a third world country, why should I buy this for $400 when I can buy OLPCs for like $150?

As someone in a first world country, why should I buy this when I can buy a REAL laptop for $400 or under thanks to sales, rebates, the used/refurbished/surplus market, etc?

As for the optical drive, this made be think that I use mine for two things: ripping CDs and installing software. I can see why someone wouldn't need on in an OLPC type situation (or where they want to sell these), not to mention that they are fragile (relative to flash memory and other parts of the computer).

Makes a lot of sense to me. (3, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130330)

It is actually sub-$300, better specced than an OLPC, several *gigs* of memory (512M in the OLPC) and a faster processor. This is beefier than an OLPC and built to survive a harsher environment than a standard notebook. It fits a need, IMO.

engadget [engadget.com]'s review from 2 months ago.

What will really be accomplished by these? (1)

emor8t (1033068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129824)

I think that NickNeg had a great idea with the OLPC. Make a computer, portable at that, cheap enough for most consumers to own.
But if it can't run most of the new programs or aa new OS for that matter, the overall use of this thing is going to be nil.

Even if that is not that case, assuming it runs everything swimmingly, what is to stop people and corporations from buying a ton
of these to use for various reasons. I mean suddenly your boss can afford to give you a laptop and say, "Hey I need this report finished by morning, heres a company laptop?"

It's not that this will be the case, but its the actaul effect of these cheap portable devices going to be what it's creator had in mind?

Imagine a Beowulf... (1)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129836)

...bah... forget it! No one thinks that's funny anymore except me.

Re:Imagine a Beowulf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130802)

*sniff* But I still think it's funny. Every time I read it, in every single thread. It gets so much funnier every time I read it. It's like Family Guy, where they take a lame but cute joke and stretch it out until it's no longer funny, then downright annoying, and then so much longer that you begin laughing hysterically. You know, like the episodes where Peter hits his shin or stubs his toe and goes "sssssssss-OW! sssssssss-OW!" for like 20 seconds straight. Yes, that kind of funny, because you drive the rest of us so insane with these cliches that we cannot help but find it funny and laugh hysterically.

And it's not the joke that's funny, it's the lame writing that is funny. So, in the end, we are laughing AT you, not WITH you.

Have a nice day.

Handheld Industry (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129846)

there may be a general market for a cheap, robust laptop without hard drive or optical storage

Ah, so *there* is where our handheld industry went! And with all seriousness, I have been horrified with all of the handhelds since the Palm first came out. I can't understand why they don't build general-purpose cheap and fully-functional small computing devices -- that aren't obtusely designed and super fucking expensive.

I'd love to get my hands on one of Negroponte's OLPC laptop thingies. If Microsoft is getting into the market, lets all hope and prey that they are ultra mass produced, and flop terribly.

Sounds virtuous, however Intel is still bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17129890)

They're polluting and not paying taxes in New Mexico.
http://malfy.org/ [malfy.org]

It's a simple business reaction (3, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129928)

Intel and Microsoft are big corporations. Big corporations:

1. can't afford to take chances when there's even slight chance a startup may become a viable competitor
2. can afford money-wise and resource-wise to react to even the silliest of those potential competitors

I'm not saying OLPC is silly, but I'm just saying: don't make a big deal of it. Intel/MS just want their options covered.

Let's not forget that cheap computers for poor countries were made long before OLPC (and all failed) and will continue to be made. The least thing: it'll be fun to watch the development in this "market".

More likely (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130366)

3. Big corporations can afford such small expenditures.

Why? The return is so great on the investment. It would probably cost less to offer tens of thousands of these things that to pay for their name to be favorably placed in major markets around the world.

$400 is not cheaper than $100... (3, Insightful)

ravee (201020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129930)

In fact, it is 4 times costlier than the one hundred dollar laptop being developed by OLPC. And more over, OLPC project is purely a humanitarian project aimed at improving the education of the children. Where as Intel's project even though commendable is no where near to the lofty ideals of OLPC.

Re:$400 is not cheaper than $100... (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130292)

It wasn't long ago there was an article here about a 20GB flash drive being $750-$1000. If an entire laptop containing one is now estimated at around $400, these things will be cheap quite soon.

I'm probably blind, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130704)

...where does it say that the laptop contains a 20GB flash drive?

Re:$400 is not cheaper than $100... (2, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130484)

The $100 laptop doesn't cost $100. It costs $150 and that price, according to the article, doesn't include shipping. OLPC would be manufactured in China, while Intel plans to do it (at least the final stages) in Brazil. Think jobs & additional demand for the better education these computers would be providing.

I'm not making the final judgement yet, I haven't even seen the complete tech specs for it, or results of the trials.

Ahhh... (1)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129940)

"suggests that there may be a general market for a cheap, robust laptop without hard drive or optical storage."

No? India and other countries are already miffed that the U.S. has tried to foist substandard hardware on their "poor" populations to make technology more accessible.

While the intentions of OLPC program are commendable it really ignores the fact that basic education and literacy - a prerequiste for computer use, and power are fundamental components that are not readily available in developing areas of the world.

Re:Ahhh... (1)

emj (15659) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130212)

Actually you should take a look at the software being developed for OLPC, there are some cool things that lets you be very creative without reading.

Re:Ahhh... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130450)

India and other countries are already miffed that the U.S. has tried to foist substandard hardware on their "poor" populations
Considering the quality of the software they send back, I'd say it's a tie overall.

A. Portable thin client for under $100 (2, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17129974)

And the Final Jeopardy question is:

Q: What do I really need in a laptop?

I figure NX, vnc, GoToMyPC or one if its friends, or any other remote-screen system will let me get to my office or home PC from the road or around the campus and really, that's all I need in a laptop. Of course, it should have local audio/camera for videoconferencing and local printing for when I need it.

As far as truly local/disconnected operation goes, I need lightweight viewers for Microsoft Office so I can read and print files and do presentations, a notepad for taking notes, and maybe some games to keep my mind sharp when I'm in a motel room out in the boondocks. I'll need a small amount of local read-write storage for these files, which should auto-sync with the office machine upon connect.

Just make sure I can add on new wireless technologies as they become available.

Cheap or not (1)

kentrel (526003) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130020)

All I want is something that I can use to read PDF files on the go. I originally bought a handheld because I desperately needed to read documents while on the move - even one of those hand held ebook readers would have done the job, but I have yet to find something that does everything I need to.

Of coures, now that I think of it, most of my woes were down to the fact that PDF is a horrible format at the best of times, and no matter what you just can't read a PDF document on a handheld.

If these laptops turn out to be cheap why can't we get handhelds with bigger screens, or even dual screens that fold over to fit in your pocket. I'm sure they exist, but they're either expensive or lack the complete functionality that I need, or frustratingly, it turns out that there is hardly any free software available.

Re:Cheap or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130166)

All I want is something that I can use to read PDF files on the go.

Huh? I think you logged onto the wrong website. ;]

Re:Cheap or not (1)

kentrel (526003) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130248)

Hehe.. well unfortunately PDF files have become the standard everywhere. Even my government documents are all released as PDFs, yet even on a modern PC they can be slow to load - the standard reader lacks even the basic features I expect out of HTML or TXT readers and trying to convert PDFs to HTML is like trying to get a PS3 and a Wii before Christmas.

fp 3ocK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130032)

sorely diminiZshed.

*profitable* Market? (2, Insightful)

awfar (211405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130208)

said better elsewhere...

Microsoft/Intel cannot lose the Windows mindshare, marketshare, niche market, quarterly analysis, exposure, or allow the embarrasment of missing a potentially revolutionary nascent technology or low-budget competition.

How much is the exposure worth? Brand imprint? Visual or Process (how to do things) imprint? Said to be lots.

They would do the project(s) at a loss.

Things Could Get Interesting (4, Insightful)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130232)

Seeing as how MS seems to favor a $100 price-point for its OS, the laptop would have to cost $0.

If that actually happens, and then if, by some remote chance, refunds for the Microsoft Tax were suddenly made mandatory (by a state's law, say, Massachussetts). Wowee-Zowee. Free laptops for everyone, courtesy Mr. Gates!

(I'm not holding my breath)


market (1)

flawedconceptions (1000049) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130276)

I think that there is a huge market for a low-end, pretty laptop. If Intel designs and markets it correctly, it will be the next "must-have" for college students. If the specs and price are right, I'd happily sit one on my parents' desk when replacement time comes around. I do my work on a desktop with a nice big monitor and I have a beat-up desktop at home: my laptop needs to give presentations, keep me in touch while travelling, and not break when airport security plays with it.

But what I really want is a PADD.

What's cheap about flash? (2, Insightful)

greengarden (1036194) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130282)

I am not sure how a laptop with flash memory would be any cheaper than one with a hard drive. Also, Microsoft is not going to be doing this for free, so the OS would be adding to the cost (unlike one with Linux). Last but not least, flash memory has a limited number of read/writes, and it gets slower as it approaches that limit.

I like the idea of a cheap laptop for the world masses, I just don't see how this fits the requirements.


Paul C.
Sr Developer
http://www.jbilling.com/ [jbilling.com] - The Open Source Enterprise Billing System

Form Factor Form Factor Form Factor (1)

sammyo (166904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130298)

And loose the concept of a laptop. Do I know what to make of it? Would I be posting here?

There is something that I would carry with me contstantly. But do you
need a full Vista? Do you need a useable keyboard? How much 'disk space' do you really need?
If it had integrated wifi, cell/w bluetooth, media options, gps? And was LIGHT and COOL and


What about flash's limitations? (1)

mstahl (701501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130312)

Doesn't flash have a finite read/write limit? Isn't that kind of important to know if you're using it as a hard drive that *might* contain swap space, might contain files that are read and written a lot? What about the fact that flash can only be erased in blocks? Hard drives are cheap, reasonably robust (it's been a long time since I've broken one), and for the time being can hold a tremendous amount of data in a small-ish package. Why not work on making the more immediately sensitive parts more "robust", like someone mentioned above with the screen?

Re:What about flash's limitations? (1)

JCondon (1029908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130554)

"Why not work on making the more immediately sensitive parts more "robust", like someone mentioned above with the screen?"

Because Intel and Microsoft don't make screens.

Durability (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130416)

I think the durability of storage goes, Magnetic, Solid-state, Optical.
Most optical drives dont last longer than 2 years.

How do we build these now? (1)

scottsk (781208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130546)

I'll bite - where are the parts lists, schematics, etc to build this now? I have a 1GB USB drive - what do I attach to it to make a computer? Particularly one that can play MP3/OGG? Where's O'Reilly's hacks magazine when you need it? I mean, with a Linux bootable distro and a RAM drive, this could be pretty slick.

Re:How do we build these now? (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130932)

You could do a pretty good job with a nanoITX, and a small TFT. The keyboard would be the biggest challenge to do cost-effectively. Then there's the matter of getting it in a case.

I've used a industrial PC with no HD as a primary computer in the field before. It worked well. Looked like a flat slab of metal connected to a screen though, with a half-size keyboard.

Wth? (1)

Zex_Suik (951570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130562)

Hey I love Slashdot and all, but why are you linking to another news site and not Intel's,

Re:Wth? (1)

Zex_Suik (951570) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131158)

hey nvm I noobed out for a second...apparently there is a ton of pictures and descriptions of the machine out there that I hadn't seen yet. forgive

no market (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130676)

Making windows run on the OLPC laptop has nothing to do with perceived marketability.
Microsoft are just trying to establish/maintain a monopoly on schools software. They are trying to brainwash kids into the microsoft mentality so they've got customers for life.

Windows + Flash HD = early failure (4, Insightful)

Comboman (895500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130864)

No matter how much RAM you have, Windows still seems to need a swap file that is constantly being written to (not to mention all the writing to the registry). Given that current flash technologies have a limited number erase/write cycles, I hope the flash-based hard-drive is replaceable (CF card maybe?).

Mobile phones (2, Interesting)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 7 years ago | (#17130874)

Within a decade, mobile phones will be the primary computing device for the majority of the market. Yes, you'd connect it to a docking station at home and at the office so there's a proper input device (keyboard/mouse) and output device (TV/monitor).. but for 90% mobile devices will be powerful enough to handle e-mail, the interweb and calendar/groupware functionality.

Heck, even as a software engineer the only reason I use a laptop is the lack of a proper Wifi, keyboard and screen for my phone.

Bought a Jornada 820 - great little machine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17130914)

After the last thread on this topic, someone mentioned the HP Jornada 820. I was shocked to discover that a whole class of computer - hard-drive-less laptops - had appeared, thrived for a while, and died out, and I never noticed them. Apparently the last and best was the Compaq Aero 8000. I managed to buy a used Jornada 820, and it's really neat! It has a real keyboard, a big enough screen, and huge battery life. I also got a wireless card for it. It could use better software - the browser doesn't support https - but I'm working on that.

This sounds familiar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17131066)

Shades of the eMate [wikipedia.org], Batman!

Microsoft's interest in this.... (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17131176)

The OLPC or a similar project is another great way for the Gates Foundation to funnel money back into Microsoft while perpetuating the Windows monopoly. That's why they have such an interest in running Windows on the OLPC platform and making a competing platform. Better yet if the mesh networking doesn't quite work.

I can imagine Bill going to various corrupt governments (look at Thailand right now for an example) and saying "We can run Windows on those things and make them useful for you, and the Foundation will even foot the bill".
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