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In Search of the Cheap Linux Laptop

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the ever-hopeful dept.

Portables 421

mr_mischief writes "According to Hot Hardware's recent review, Asus is getting ready to unleash a $199 compact notebook running Linux. This is entirely different from this recent $150 Linux laptop story which many Slashdot readers believed to be a scam. There's a dual-mode menu which offers a simple system for novice computer users, and a slightly more advanced version for others. It's not aimed squarely at the same market as the One Laptop Per Child project's XO, and is expected to be sold to end users worldwide. It's targeted at new users who don't own a computer or at people who want a cheap, small laptop for basic tasks. The reviewed version has a 7" screen and a cramped keyboard to match, but a 10" version is available for $100 more. It offers built-in wired and wireless networking, four USB 2.0 ports, and a three-hour battery life. The storage options are a bit cramped, as you only get 4 GB of on-board storage (8 GB on the $299 model) and no optical drive. As the review says, though, USB 2.0 can make up for that if you like, and the lack of moving drive parts makes the machine run dead quiet."

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421 comments

But will ir run Linux (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049413)

I can't wait to try running linux on this new piece of hardware.

Dude

$899 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049419)

After you pay your $699 licensing fee, you cock-smoking teabaggers

Re:$899 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049453)

did you [slashdot.org] forget your password?

Re:$899 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049901)

No, I did not. [slashdot.org]

Re:$899 (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049915)

Not to quibble, but wouldn't that be $898, rather than $899?

does i run windows? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049429)

Most poor people are stupid and therefore need an easer OS to use than linux.

Re:does i run windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049625)

I don't know. Does you?

Re:does i run windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049819)

Yep, but not by default

Re:does i run windows? (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049909)

Yep, but not by default

I know this thread is a joke, but the fact is, once Windows "isn't there by default" it's no longer an easy OS. Users will have to find all the correct drivers, etc. Even if this machine could handle Windows, I think most users would find sticking with the default much easier.

Re:does i run windows? (1, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050113)

The memory/drive/screen size may be too limiting for windows.

But I've never had a driver problem installing windows. The last time I did a windows install was w2k, but I had no problems installing it on my custom built computer or a compaq. The same computer, with the same hardware, Red Hat 4 wouldn't install, and after installing red hat 5, I had to recompile with mouse support. Metro X had some display problems and I needed to get an updated driver for xfree86 to support my card (Matrox Millenium II). BeOS didn't need any extra drivers (I intentionally purchased equipment they supported).

Find the correct drivers = insert the windows CD.

Re:does i run windows? (1)

sylvandb (308927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049881)

RTFA !

My Chicken House needs a Laptop! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049431)

I was thinking about adding a single board computer to my hen house to control a few things: Cameras, Stepper Motor and a maybe a relay for a fan... But if laptop's keep getting cheaper I will consider the monitor and keyboard there for diagnostics (too bad it can't be powered over Ethernet!

Anony Mouse!

An NT$10 coin (3, Informative)

croddy (659025) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049439)

The author shows a photo with the laptop next to a Taiwan $10 coin, adding that it is about the same size as a US half-dollar. Since this won't help most folks in the US (for whom receiving a half-dollar coin in change is a rare occurrence), it may help to know that the NT$10 coin is not quite 2mm larger than a U.S. quarter.

Re:An NT$10 coin (5, Funny)

Pentavirate (867026) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049547)

The author shows a photo with the laptop next to a Taiwan $10 coin, adding that it is about the same size as a US half-dollar. Since this won't help most folks in the US (for whom receiving a half-dollar coin in change is a rare occurrence), it may help to know that the NT$10 coin is not quite 2mm larger than a U.S. quarter.

Most people in the US don't know what a millimeter is either ;-).

Re:An NT$10 coin (5, Funny)

camperslo (704715) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049925)

Most people in the US don't know what a millimeter is either ;-).

Try telling them that a cigarette is about 100 mm.

It gets complicated using penises as a standard. There's this thing called net-inches...

Stevie420: Are you sure I'd like it? I've never done anything like that before
BillyG666: You'll love it. If I slapped it down on your keyboard it would go from A to Z
BillyG666: Oh shit...

It's too hard to tell what's up when a guy has a little one. Last week I met this guy with one the size of a golf pencil. I couldn't tell if he was trying to make love or trying to erase me...

Re:An NT$10 coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049623)

I think there's more people in the US with an idea of the size of a half dollar than those who know how much "not quite 2 mm" is. Metric is something that happens elsewhere.

Re:An NT$10 coin (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049697)

What!? This is America! We don't use the metric system here, what are you thinking?! You mean that it is .07874 inches bigger than the quarter. Sheesh people these days ;).

Re:An NT$10 coin (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049937)

What the heck is .07874 inches? Real Americans would say 5/64".

Re:An NT$10 coin (2, Funny)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050213)

Touche!

Re:An NT$10 coin (2, Informative)

celery stalk (617764) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049699)

...next to a Taiwan $10 coin...about the same size as a US half-dollar

it may help to know that the NT$10 coin is not quite 2mm larger than a U.S. quarter.

I'd tend to disagree with the article...I remember "50 cent piece" to be noticeably larger than a US quarter, and Wikipedia agrees with me. Though you are right with your comment.

Diameter: 30.61 mm (1.205 in) Half dollar (United States coin) [wikipedia.org]

Diameter: 24.26 mm (0.955 in) Quarter (United States coin) [wikipedia.org]

Diameter: 26 mm New Taiwan dollar [wikipedia.org] NT$10 Coin

Re:An NT$10 coin (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049773)

Just a quick question? Why call it a half dollar? Why not call it "50 Cents" or just "a half"

Re:An NT$10 coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049875)

"50 Cents" implies multiple. "A half"...of what?

Hope that clears it up for you.

Re:An NT$10 coin (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049973)

I think GP means that if you call a 25 cent piece a quarter, call a 50 cent piece a half.

Re:An NT$10 coin (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049897)

It's used so rarely in the US that it might as well not exist. Therefore there's no abbreviation, because we never talk about it.

Re:An NT$10 coin (5, Funny)

jjrockman (802957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050057)

We could only wish 50 Cent didn't exist.

32GB USB stick (2, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049447)

Toshiba do a 32GB USB flash drive, so storage isn't a problem :)

Re:32GB USB stick (4, Interesting)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049499)

The big problem with flash drive (IMHO) is that they stick out.

It would be cool if such a device could have an "internal" USB drive bay. Basicly, you open a lid and there is a recess large enough to stick most USB drives. That way you can upgrade the machine without having anything sticking out.

Re:32GB USB stick (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049649)

You have to open the machine up, but you can buy flash drives that plug directly into the 9 pin headers present on most motherboards.

Re:32GB USB stick (4, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049683)

They do, but the format is SD (there's a standard SD slot) and the maximum I've seen an SD card so far is 8GB.

Still, I've seen 8GB cards for under $80, so aside from screen size, you could EASILY upgrade the $199 version to the same internal capabilities as the $299 version for under $80.

they got you covered (1)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049769)

It has an 4-in-1 memory card reader.

Could have been cheaper (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049477)

I think they went with small size at the expense of having a higher cost. What if they had not used flash memory and went with a traditional HD instead. What if they went with a slightly larger MB/chipset - cheaper still. Or heavier components.

When optimizing for cost (purely), the device would be both larger and have a spinning HD.

Re:Could have been cheaper (3, Informative)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049539)

When optimizing for cost (purely), the device would be both larger and have a spinning HD.
Nope. A USB storage device is just a chip. Small, cheap. In fact, you can get a $4GB USB drive for around $30 *retail.* If you are buying raw chips for incorporating into your own product, expect a smaller price tag.

A spinning hard drive, on the other hand, requires mounting hardware, connectors, cables, and the hard drive itself has a lot of moving mechanical parts. Keep in mind that these things are made by the thousands, or more. Buying out the clearance of last-year's model is not really an option.

Re:Could have been cheaper (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049933)

In fact, you can get a $4GB USB drive for around $30 *retail.*

That's extremely generous. Sales and clearance items do not apply. I'd put the price at $50, and that's generous.

Meanwhile, a 20GB 2.5" HDD can be had for $30, and yet has 5X the capacity. And the capacity increases far faster than size. You can get an 80GB HDD for the same price as your 4GB flash.

$450 gets you a decent laptop (2, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049481)

What confuses me as soon as it says "$100 more" is that you are at $299 and for another $150 you can wander into BestBuy and splash $450 on a decent laptop that comes with Vista. Knocking $80 or what ever for the OEM version means that you are talking $370 or so for a decent laptop with a decent screen and a decent disk et al and this is for something with a dual core Intel processor.

Now given Moore's Law around the hardware, and screen real estate, its a bit odd that $299 gets you a computer that is that crap. Now I can see why at the $100 limit you'll be cutting loads of corners especially if you want it to work on low power, but the concept of a $299 machine with crap specs doesn't sound cheap.

$100 means cutting lots of corners, but at $299 it just sounds, somewhat bizarrely, like a bit of a rip off.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049507)

a decent laptop that comes with Vista


Oxymoron alert! Oxymoron alert!

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049613)

What confuses me as soon as it says "$100 more" is that you are at $299 and for another $150 you can wander into BestBuy and splash $450 on a decent laptop that comes with Vista.


Perhaps, but that's for a time-and-a-half the cost of "high end" of the ASUS inexpensive laptops.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049615)

The reason the OLPC project has taken so much heat about their price increase is that those few extra dollars are much more significant is some parts of the world.

The specs honestly aren't that bad considering for their target audience, all that the computer needs to do (most of the time) is play media, create and edit documents, and browse the web.

The more major names that get behind this realization, the better off for the world at large. Average Joe computer user doesn't need a PCIe x16 graphics card. He just doesn't.

I don't want them to. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049755)

The more major names that get behind this realization, the better off for the world at large. Average Joe computer user doesn't need a PCIe x16 graphics card. He just doesn't.

It doesn't matter. If he thinks he does, he'll buy it. Which will drive up the volume and drive down the price.

Which will make the one I buy a LOT cheaper than if they had not.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (4, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049655)

What confuses me as soon as it says "$100 more" is that you are at $299 and for another $150 you can wander into BestBuy and splash $450 on a decent laptop that comes with Vista. Knocking $80 or what ever for the OEM version means that you are talking $370 or so for a decent laptop with a decent screen and a decent disk et al and this is for something with a dual core Intel processor.

For the market this laptop is intended for, 4 GB of storage is probably perfectly adequate. Keep in mind that 4 GB hard drives were standard for laptops just ten years ago, and lots of people did real work with that much storage. At $199 a pop, Asus will have a laptop that is nearly cheap enough to become an impulse buy for a lot of people.

Sure, you can always get a much better machine for a little more money, but a certain segment of the market is always attracted by the lowest possible price. Clearly this is what Asus is aiming for.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (2, Interesting)

blhack (921171) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049859)

As far as impulse buys go, $199 is really doable. Think about airports, sell this thing for 200 bucks and give you free wifi in the airport for the rest of the day; i REALLY think you might get some people with too much money to buy the thing....i know i would (if i forgot my laptop).

And something i just thought of: i paid almost this much money for my soekris board, and that thing didn't have a SCREEN, a battery, a keyboard, come to think of it....where is that soren guy, i'm gonna kick his ass!

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049675)

But $450 doesn't buy you a subnotebook with a solid state harddisk, and $450 is 50% more expensive. If the $299 laptop is reasonably sturdy and has decent battery life, and I suspect it will because the display is 10" small and there is no spinning disc, then it is a bargain.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (3, Insightful)

rsilva (128737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049741)

Just one question: can you show me a $ 450,00 descent laptop that weights around 2 pounds?

The weight, hence portability, is clearly a key factor for this computer.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050123)

can you show me a $ 450,00 descent laptop that weights around 2 pounds?
You can run Descent on a Nintendo DS with a homebrew card [youtube.com] , and that weighs a lot less than 2 pounds and costs less than 450 USD.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049821)

The 199$ machine sounds like a decent value - hey, it's a computer at 200$! The 300$ version I agree sounds somewhat underwhelming. With computers, the cost which relates to the price is often counterintuitive. If you have a pound of flesh, you can trivially cut it two and sell each for half. If you have a single-layer single-platter HDD, you can't easily sell HDDs with half a platter's size - not at half price anyway.

Looking at my nearest webshop, their cheapest socket 775 processor is a 3.46GHz PIV. Yes, three and a half gigahertz and you couldn't buy a slower one if you wanted. Why? Because they can't make a 1.75GHz PIV for half the price, they got their process, their die size and it would cost practically as much to produce.

I understand that first-time buyers might go for the really lowest of low-end just for the sake of having a computer. Everyone else would be better off sticking with their old junk just a little bit longer because up to a certain point you get so much more for your money, which means it'll last you much longer. Not the latest and greatest, but not trying to squeeze the last 50$ out of the lemon.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049825)

If you buy it for portability and not specs, hell yes, $300 is a good price for a 10" notebook. For coparison, the cheapest sub-12" notebook at Newegg that's is a Fujitsu Lifebook at around $1500 on sale.

What I primarily use a notebook for is web browsing, e-mail and a terminal window. What benefit would a high spec laptop with Vista have for me? It'd just burn battery and heat up my genitals.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (4, Insightful)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049903)

The $450 BestBuy laptop will not be a lightweight 10" machine though. The cheapest LifeBook P7230 which costs ~$1,600 w/ rebates, and it has a 1.2 Ghz Core Solo, 1 Gig of RAM and an Intel GFX chip. The only thing it has significantly more of is the HDD, but then it's not a solid state thingie.

Looking at the Eee's specs, it's significantly better than the old Compaq Armada M300 [hp.com] I currently have. My M300 was originally equipped with a 6GB hard drive, so the 8GB or 16GB models would actually be an improvement, if I hadn't upgraded it with an 80GB Seagate drive :). Assuming the 10" screen will be at least 1024x768, it would be an excellent replacement for the armada, whose battery is beginning to crap out. Faster processor, double the RAM amount and battery life, more USB ports, built in wireless, and a webcam all for just $299.

Despite my excitement, whether the 10" Eee is a rip off or not depends on the needs and expectations of the user. I almost always carry my M300 with me, and I mainly use it for web surfing, some office tasks, light coding work and some gaming. This is exactly what I'd want the Eee to do, and I'm sure it'll handle these tasks just fine (by gaming I meant an occasional game of Starcraft or Doom deathmatch). If, on the other hand, the laptop will always remain on the table at home, and is expected to run Vista, then yeah, an additional $100 will get you a much more suitable machine.

Ok... I now see that there are quite a few replies already, but I'll still post this in case I covered something that hasn't been mentioned yet.

This is more in the class of ultra portable (2, Insightful)

lumierang (881089) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049943)

instead of a common laptop. This is not intended as a desktop replacement that needs to be placed on a desk to comfortably use, it is a truly portable pc as a complement to your beefy pc that you can slap out anywhere ,any time, in the class,on the bus, sitting , standing, you name it. With a weight of 2lb, I can comfortably hold this baby with one hand for extended length of time. It will be perfect for me as a student to put in my book bag. And for taking notes, writing papers , surfing the net, checking email,you don't need a bloated modern laptop(most can burn you if you try to use on you lap)weighting more than 6 lb, with screaming dual core intel processor and wide screen lcd. And if I want some heavy lifting I can easily ssh to my desktop. I have been wanting something like this for a long time, and the only alternatives before is the tablets like the thinkpad X series with a price tag easily over 1k$,as a poor student I can hardly afford. The EEE is just priced right for me, I will happily snatch one at launch.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (2, Insightful)

tkw954 (709413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049961)

Moore's law only applies to the number of transistors on a chip at a given price range. I'd imagine that at this price point, the case, screen, keyboard and connectors become a more significant cost than the transistors on the chips.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049967)

That's a fine analysis if, in fact, you are in the market for a laptop. I will buy this ASUS machine precisely because I *don't* want a laptop, I want an ultramobile internet device with a full keyboard and decent battery life. Essentially I want a device that does everything the iPhone does (minus the phone, I already have one of those) but without the cramped keyboard. the proprietary lock-in and the hefty price tag.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049985)

If you take Vista out of that $450 deal, the computer becomes more expensive. The manufacturer probably got one of those "$80 for Vista if all your computers run Vista, $120 otherwise" offers and made the obvious choice, so not delivering Vista doesn't reduce the cost. No preinstalled Vista also means no preinstalled AOL, Norton, etc., which means no payments from AOL, Norton, etc. for the in-your-face advertisement that you spend your first half hour with the new computer removing. A computer without Vista costs more than one with Vista.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050033)

What confuses me as soon as it says "$100 more" is that you are at $299 and for another $150 you can wander into BestBuy and splash $450 on a decent laptop that comes with Vista. Knocking $80 or what ever for the OEM version means that you are talking $370 or so for a decent laptop with a decent screen and a decent disk et al and this is for something with a dual core Intel processor.

Not everyone needs a "decent laptop". I am considering hooking up my grandparents with two of those to keep connected and allow them to use the internet. All depends on whether their "novice" mode is easier than Windows Vista / XP.

If it's not, then it's not worth it.

Re:$450 gets you a decent laptop (1)

arashi no garou (699761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050155)

Considering that this device is a good bit more powerful and expandable than the Palm Foleo, yet it is about the same form factor and just as portable, $299 isn't a bad price at all. The Foleo is $499 ($49 more than your cheap laptop example) and is nothing more than a PDA in a laptop shell. The Eee is a true ultraportable laptop; while it is shown running Linux with Qtopia and KDE frontends, I could easily see it running Windows XP with the specs listed. I would venture to say that the Eee's biggest fans will be those folks who considered a Foleo but want more for their money. I don't think it's meant to be compared to a "true" laptop.

And yes, you are correct in that you can get a decent Windows-based laptop for $450, but it won't be nearly as silent, lightweight or, dare I say it, "cool" as the Eee. I'd love to have one to throw in the backpack on road trips.

Memory? (3, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049495)

To all the manufacturers making these small, low-power PCs and notebooks I have one request. Please make the RAM expandable. Put an SO-DIMM slot in there, either in addition to the soldered-on system RAM or as the only system RAM.

512 Mb is nice, but being able to stick a 2 Gb SO-DIMM in there would make this system useful for so many more people than just their target audience.

Re:Memory? (2, Interesting)

thePsychologist (1062886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049715)

If you're going to use that much RAM then chances are you're using applications that require a lot of processing power. So you'll need more fans and there will be more heat. These laptops are designed for basic and quick tasks like checking email quietly and easily.

Yes but the question is (4, Funny)

ph4rmb0y (711836) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049511)

Will it run windows? ;)

Re:Yes but the question is (1)

solevita (967690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049589)

The Windows key is a real nice touch... Makes the mind boggle (although I'm sure you're all intelligent enough to do your own boggling).

Re:Yes but the question is (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049667)

I'm sure windows 2000 would work fine on this hardware. Asus is still providing drivers for Win2k for their other hardware so I wouldn't imagine drivers would be an issue. Disk space might be a little tight but what do you expect for $200?

Re:Yes but the question is (1)

ChefInnocent (667809) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049719)

Should this be modded funny or flaimbait? After all, this is /.

Re:Yes but the question is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049807)

you mean, will it run World of Warcraft?!

Worth springing for the 10" screen (5, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049525)

From the photos, it looks like the 7" and 10" models use the same case/chassis. The smaller screen just has a giant black bezel around it, taking up the space where the larger screen would go. Although this brings up interesting upgrade possibilities, I think it's fairly obnoxious; I wouldn't mind a 7"-screen laptop if the entire thing were only 7" diagonal (example, something like the Psion Series 7), but a 7" screen in a case that's built for 10" would just annoy me.

Re:Worth springing for the 10" screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049607)

Which photos were you looking at? The writeup mentions a 10" screen version, but I can't find any reference to it in the article, and none of the photos seems to show one either. Also note that they seem to place the speakers in the display housing, which makes a 10" version less likely (the base is probably also pretty full, and to hit the low price point they definitely don't want too many differences in the designs).

Re:Worth springing for the 10" screen (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049907)

***I wouldn't mind a 7"-screen laptop if the entire thing were only 7" diagonal (example, something like the Psion Series 7), but a 7" screen in a case that's built for 10" would just annoy me.***

The article criticises the keys as being too small. A narrower PC will make that even worse. If you don't put a substantial bezel around the 7 inch diagonal screen, you are going to end up with a keyboard that can't be used by adults without extreme frustration.

Re:Worth springing for the 10" screen (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050151)

i already wouldnt be able to use that keyboard without frustration. a customer i know has a 12" 700m and its god damn tiny already. im not *too* uncomfortable on my T40, but much smaller and i easily would be.

still for 200 bucks. i might be interested :)

Matias Half Keyboard (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050183)

If you don't put a substantial bezel around the 7 inch diagonal screen, you are going to end up with a keyboard that can't be used by adults without extreme frustration.
Citation needed that a one-handed keyboard [matias.ca] causes extreme frustration.

The Specs, summarized (4, Informative)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049527)

900MHz Intel Dothan based Pentium M CPU

512MB of DDR2 memory

802.11g wireless capability

flash-based hard drive ($199 for 4GB, $299 for 8GB)

weight: .89 kilograms, just around 2 pounds

Ports:
  four USB 2.0
  VGA output
  10/100 Ethernet
  56K phone modem

Battery:
  4-cell, estimated 3 hours life

The lack of an optical drive and the low nonvolatile storage space is a bummer, but flash hard drives are faster and stabler. And as the article states, you can always hook up an external.

Re:The Specs, summarized (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049561)

No mention of which GNU/Linux distro it's based off though.

Re:The Specs, summarized (4, Interesting)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050037)

Screw the optical drive. The Armada M300 I've already mentioned somewhere above doesn't have one (it's in the docking station), and there was exactly one (1) situation when I wished I had it. I don't even use the one in the docking station either, I now just pop the CD/DVD into one of my desktop drives and use the network share to access it. Skipping the CD/DVD drive means thinner laptop plus lower cost and weight, so I'm all for it.

The 8GB flash drive is a much more limiting factor though, as it means I won't be able to store as much pr0n and warez^W^Wuseful business data.

check the linux link on pg 2 (1)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049543)

Notice on page 2 of the article, that if you mouse over the double underlined "Linux", it pops a Miscrosoft Server add under your mouse.

Wow, imagine a beowulf cluster of these (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049555)

But will it run Linux??

eBook reader (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049653)

One of the key points that makes the XO laptop so interesting is that it can be used as a eBook Reader, this thing just looks like a normal laptop, not very comfortable for eBook reading, I'll pass.

still waiting for a daylight-readable display (2, Insightful)

Per Bothner (19354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049663)

What I'm waiting for a compact laptop/hand-held with a daylight-readable display. That's what would make a OLPC clone interesting to me, and as it appears the Asus doesn't have such a display, I'm not interested. (Of course others may find a low-cost light-weight mini-laptop very useful.)

Re:still waiting for a daylight-readable display (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050069)

The problem with OLPC is that they currently have no plans to sell to the public. If you're not a government buying them for weapons^W poor children in lot sizes in the millions, they're not interested.

I would probably take the XO over this at the same price, but I'm not going to support "blood laptops" any more than I support "blood diamonds". If I can buy this on the open market this fall while Negroponte is still trying to decide if XO is ever going to be available to adults in developed countries, this would make a nice update to my Pentium II laptop instead of getting a Turion or a Core 2 Duo.

I game on my desktop, but I have no intention of buying a laptop for gaming right now. I just want something small and useful. Ever since my Psion 5mx went away, I've been trying to figure out how small a clamshell machine I can get for not much cash.

Re:still waiting for a daylight-readable display (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050131)

The problem with OLPC is that they currently have no plans to sell to the public.

That's ok, it will be easy enough to get them on ebay.

Re:still waiting for a daylight-readable display (2, Informative)

fliplap (113705) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050083)

For years NEC produced the Versa Daylite, it came with a trans reflective screen that was specifically designed for outdoor viewing

Biggest boost ever for Linux desktop? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049687)

$199 is crazily cheap - a LOT of people will buy one of these to "surf the internet and do some typing". Plenty of folk will immediately install bootleg XP on this, but I think the majority will leave Linux running, so long as it "just works".

Re:Biggest boost ever for Linux desktop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049777)

With a crappy low-res screen? I don't think so, unless they absolutely can't afford anything else. There's also the problem that they can't put in their CDs and DVDs which further reduces its usefulness.

Thanks, but no thanks, (2, Informative)

huckda (398277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049707)

I'll take a Nokia N800 for $375 Alex.

with built in bluetooth, and an ultrasmall form factor, great built-in wireless...ultramobile lovely linux internet tablet.

and if I don't want to use the touch-screen ultrasharp display...I'll get a 1 handed keyboard from Frogpad.com to connect via bluetooth.

Re:Thanks, but no thanks, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049801)

Oh shit, looks like Asus will have to go back to the drawing board - good thing you noticed another completely unrelated device that's twice as expensive as the one in the article .... phew!

Don't forget, not everybody has had as much practice at typing one-handed as you!

Re:Thanks, but no thanks, (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049845)

I got a ThinkOutside folding bluetooth keyboard to go with my 770. It fits in the same jacket pocket as the 770 itself, and is fine to type on except for numbers. It's a lot better than some laptop keyboards I've used. I've typed several articles on it; having a Vim-capable machine with a decent keyboard in my pocket is a great way of reducing dead time.

What's with the vowels? (3, Funny)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049761)

First we get the "Wii", now we have the "Eee". What's next, "Oooeeyaaaeee"???

Want one! (Well, want more than one ...) (2, Interesting)

timothy (36799) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049793)

I've been reading about these for several weeks now, and am really looking forward to it. Anyone who remembers the i-Opener (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-Opener) will grin to think that this, while slightly more expensive (less than double, when considering inflation, though -- and it's a laptop!) will come with Linux by default.

I want one for school: taking notes is such ludicrous misemployment for my main laptop; I cringe each time I carry it back and forth to my law school classes to ... tap out some notes. (I esp. like "View Your Mind" -- I hope that will run nicely on the Eee; on the 7" screen it might be annoying, but Hey, not too bad, I bet.)

I want one for the car / other travels: portable audio player, and (I hope!) a cool basis for a GPS system using GPS Drive (http://www.gpsdrive.de/) or similar. Can anyone recommend any works-from-the-box GPS modules for a typical Linux system?

Something this size and price, I'd feel justified to take on nearly any kind of travel -- not so much bigger than the Visor Deluxe stolen from my car a while back plus the portable keyboard for that. (Anyone want to send me a no-longer-used Visor Deluxe, so I could rescue the data from my backup cart? :))

The screen ... eh, it sucks. Hopefully, the 10" screen version will be out soon after the 7".

timothy

Linux or Windows XP?? (1)

segfaultdot (462810) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049809)

Most of the latter screenshots look like KDE (example [hothardware.com] ), but look at THIS [hothardware.com] screenshot! It looks like a windows-based antivirus running in windows XP in the foreground with KDE in the background.

HUH??

Re:Linux or Windows XP?? (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049877)

I think its just someone with really bad taste for style deciding to use that style of border and in silver while the rest of the OS is left in a preset.

Getting closer to replacing the Tandy Model 100 (2, Insightful)

sylvandb (308927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049839)

Twenty years ago I used a Tandy Model 100. Decent keyboard, way too small a display, no moving parts, fairly small and light, and would run a couple of long days on 4xAA batteries. It also had functional applications and a modem built in. Reporters, etc. used them by the thousands. This might actually be a nearly ideal replacement.

It has a LOT more functionality in a reasonable package.

Battery life is iffy, but probably adequate.

Display seems OK. Sunlight is probably an issue.

But how is the keyboard, really?

sdb

Re:Getting closer to replacing the Tandy Model 100 (2, Informative)

hoppy (21392) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049945)

Maybe the ink-media laptop based on ARM processor could replace it:

http://aptustech.com/?q=node/10 [aptustech.com]

It has a fairly powerfull ARM11 processor clocked at 500MHz with 256MB of RAM and 1GB of flash. 2 SDCard slots for extension are present.
It should have a lower power consumption than the Asustek based on a x86 processor. End of course it can not run Windows (well it may be running WinCE). It's delivered with Linux.

Re:Getting closer to replacing the Tandy Model 100 (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050129)

Wow, I wish I'd known about that one before I submitted the article summary. Now I think I might want one of these... but it's $300 (Canadian, but the Canadian dollar is not as weak compared to the US dollar as it once was). It's an ARM, and there's lots of software for Linux on ARM. It's got twice the battery life, the keyboard looks to detach, and it has dual SD slots.

Oh, it's a great day when you're deciding between two different sub-$300 ultra-portables.

Re:Getting closer to replacing the Tandy Model 100 (1)

hoppy (21392) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050217)

To be fair, It does not exist actually. First engineering sample (read full of hardware bugs) are supposed to be out in the following weeks. I met a guy from this company and spoke with him a little. I should have more information soon and i will update : http://aptustech.com/?q=node/10 [aptustech.com]

Re:Getting closer to replacing the Tandy Model 100 (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050055)

To be perfectly honest, the keyboard on those old Model 100s is nearly unbeatable. They just don't build 'em like they used to - my MacBook has chiclets!

Sure... (0)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049869)

...but will it run FreeBSD?

Re:Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20049995)

If they've saved money by using an existing coffin design for the case, then yes. It will fit well.

Dead Quiet (1)

ShawnCplus (1083617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049957)

Tiny Linux laptop + Dead Quiet = Linux ninja

Great for road warriors (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20049979)

For people on the road fixing stuff for a living this would be a great improvement over most of the overly large and overkill laptops you have to shove in your bag now. ( at least for ones that have to pay for their own hardware ).

You really dont need much hardware to RDP/X11 a server, check a network, or hook to a diag port on a router.

will Asus really deliver soon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20050061)

I am quite ecstatic to be able to buy laptop(s) from Asus from $199, but will they really deliver on time? We haven't heard anything from them since early June.

Diminishing returns? (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050085)

Are we reaching the point on laptop prices where cheaper laptops are not feasible simply due to administrative costs? Consider these examples. Apple puts together an iPhone, and it likely costs $150 to build. They didn't use the cheapest parts but you know they did get a good price. This laptops looks like an emate, and an in inflation adjusted numbers costs only a little less. MS, who does not even need to make money, cannot put together a media player for less than $200. Each component may be cheap, but there is cost in ordering, receiving, qualifying, assembling, and verifying. Each component that is added, each new solder joint, increases the costs nonlinearly. How much did Apple save by not making the battery removable? If one has a device with 10 components, is it possible to engineer, assemble and ship the device for less $200 even if the components are next to nothing?

The point we are at right now is that there has been little advance in merging components. Computers got cheap, in part, to VLSI. Now, instead of creating a single chip laptop, we have dual cores. To get to the holy grail of the computer so cheap that we buy it for no reason, the device count has to go way down. A couple chips, a couple ports, and a screen. It may even have to have a fake keyboard, just like the cheap computers of the 80's, which, btw, were also just a few chips and few ports.

Only problem is the screen size. (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050097)

7" is way too small. Even 10" is too small. There should be a 12 or 14" option for $299.

The other limitations - no optical and only 4GB storage - are not a problem in my opinion.

For those interested in the Medison saga (4, Informative)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050107)

Since it was mentioned in the summary, there's a new blog following the whole fiasco at http://medisonscam.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Some interesting highlights from the last few days:

The old product pictures has been replaced on Medisons site. According to Comon.dk Medison have foretold that they were replaced by "real" pictures to get more trustworthy. They say that they have hired a professional photographer to take the pictures. The question however, is why a professional photographer would use a Canon Digital IXUS 60 digital camera at 10 in the evening (See the Exif-tags in the pictures). That is for those who don't know a small compact consumer camera... Yes we know that this doesn't "prove" anything, it's just another "fun fact" in this story.

A poster on SweClockers posted the following answer that is supposed to be from the manufacturer: "they got one pcs sample from our customer and not paid". Hmm, interesting, isn't it?

According to the Danish site Comon.dk, Medison will have a press conference on Wednesday to clear things out. They have also spoken with several people in the computer industry that claims, just like all other experts, that the price is "impossible".


The Asus Eee offer however is great I'm looking forward to their machine. You shouldn't look at this laptop from the perspective of using it as full blown desktop Machine. Consider all the stuff you get at mere $200, for a nice mobile computer with full-sized keyboard and rich internet abilities. It makes for far better browsing/mail checking than what you can do on your $600 iPhone.

Two linux laptops in one day? :) (0, Redundant)

GeekyGuy (1135037) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050141)

Guys, do you actually have to buy one with Linux pre-installed or how about just buying A laptop and installing Linux yourself?

Sounds good, but... (5, Interesting)

gshakhn (776481) | more than 6 years ago | (#20050209)

Overall, this sounds like an amazing computer for school. About 2 pounds? That small? Awesome. However, I've got a few questions.

How easy is it to install additional programs? I'd assume they'd attempt to limit that in the basic interface, with only a few choices from preselected packages. With the advanced interface though, can you install anything you want? Do you get access to the terminal? Is there apt, yum? Something similar to Synaptic so you don't have to use the terminal? Only packages approved by Asus, or can you access any repository you want?

It says that the laptop is Windows compatible. I assume this means that the user can install another OS by themselves. With lack of an optical drive though, will it boot from the USB to install? What about drivers, such as for the webcam?

All in all, it sounds like a great deal. The small screen bugs me a bit, but what do you expect for the size?
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