Saturday, January 31, 2009

Latest OLPC: $75 AND Open Source (per Negroponte)

The One Laptop Per Child organization at MIT says the next generation of the XO, the XO-2, might sell for $75 and anyone is free to copy it and make it. Negroponte wants YOU to have one.

Here's the big news. Nicolas Negroponte: "One important thing about the XO-2 is that we're going to do it as an open-source hardware program. The XO-1 was really designed as if we were Apple. The XO-2 will be designed as if we were Google - we'll want people to copy it. We'll make the constituent parts available. We'll try and get it out there using the exact opposite approach that we did with the XO-1."

Guardian Newspaper (UK): The other interesting thing about the XO-2 is that it looks like something western consumers would buy as an ebook reader, and there's potentially a mass market at the target $75 price. Or somebody like Asus or Acer could make them, without paying OLPC a royalty. A project that was started to help children in the developing world could end up helping children in the west as well. "I wouldn't complain," he [Negroponte] says.

Negroponte says the system will dual-boot -- Windows and Linux -- because some governments and product-specifiers expect Windows, but there is no requirement ever to boot up Windows. There has been a bit of a backlash, the Guardian reporter pointed out. "Yes, but that's the Linux fundamentalists," Negroponte said. "What they're missing is that this is the best way to get Linux into the field."

Read the Guardian article:

All Known Netbook Deals Below $200

Online: has the Alpha400 for $169.99. They have had the Alpha 400 for as low as $149.99. This has been a pretty dependable deal.

Also below $200 is Compuvest at:

In Stores:
This isn't quite below $200 and it isn't the mini-laptop 400 category, but it is a significant bargain for a store. The ASUS 8.9" Eee 4GB PC Netbook Computer with Linux has recently been seen in Target stores for $249.99 (at Macedonia, Ohio, in the Cleveland area) to $269.99. . The regular in-store price at Target is $299.99.

Unfortunately, we know of no store in the USA that has the Alpha 400, Razorbook, HiVision, etc., on its shelves yet. Remember, the EEE was online before it was in stores. Once the 400s reach the stores, watch out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Inside the Alpha400 (Elonex ONE, Razorbook, HiVision)

One photo shows the Alpha 400 with the bezel and keyboard removed, and another shows the other side of the motherboard.

The square black blob of course is the CPU chip. On it one can see the logo of Ingenic Semiconductor Co.,Ltd., the Chinese maker of the XBurst 32-bit MIPS processor that is the basis of the 400-Mhz mini-laptops -- a whole new category of small, cheap computers.

The board also bears the label SKYTONE, for Guangzhou Skytone Transmission Technology, Co., Ltd.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What Does a Coby Netbook Look Like? For latest, follow link ...

To see the latest on the Coby sub-$100 netbook PC, go here:

Original 2009 post follows ....

Coby the Discount King market-tested mini-laptops at CES 2009 in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, and it is a Big Deal.

The Coby-branded mini-laptop in the photo is courtesy of, whose representatives were present.

The big deal is two things: If Coby markets this, it almost certainly will come in below $200 and probably below $150. The other thing is that the Coby brand is widely distributed to mass merchandisers that present brands of laptops/notebooks rarely reach -- Big Lots, Rite-Aid, TJMaxx, dollar stores, hardware stores, etc.

Offbeat channels are a key to getting computer prices down within reason.

Next time, we will show what one these things might look like hanging from a Walgreens rack on a bubblepack card!

A PC on a blistercard -- now that means prices well below $100.


Saturday, January 24, 2009


This blog is now mirrored at Please visit us there.

The blog also is mirrored at: .

The Elonex mini-laptop, popular in the UK and Europe and possibly the world's most popular 400, has become a threat to Dell, according to the British magazine MarketingWeek. Click for article. .

One might add that the 400s also spell trouble for Intel, Microsoft, HP, Apple, and all of the current leaders in hardware and software. Not to mention the deathbed experience that the entire cyber-finance economy is going through right now.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WHERE DO THE ALPHA 400s AND OTHER 400 (400-MHz, MIPS processor, Linux operating system) Laptops Come From?

All or most of the brands listed below claim to have factories in Shenzhen in mainland China (photo). Probably most of them are referring to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and ODMs (original design manufacturers) to which they contract the actual fabrication and assembly and some design work.

I have been able to actually find only two factories, addresses and all. They are Shenzhen Sungworld Electronics Co., Ltd, and Guangzhou Skytone Transmission Co., Ltd. They are both in Guangdong province, in the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou (ex-Canton). If your 400-category computer bears a model number with "SW-700" in it, chances are Sungworld manufactured it. If the number includes "ALPHA 400," then Skytone likely made it. There are other factories making similar machines, I am sure, including ones in which Americans are large shareholders. If you don't have a printed user's manual for your 400, then a manual for one of the above two should be helpful to you.

The supply lines in the manufacture of computers are blurry, probably on purpose. People want to keep priveleged, valuable relationships to themselves as much as possible, for advertising and deal-making advantages. Even in other, larger computers like netbooks, notebooks, and laptops, you won't find Dell, HP, and Apple volunteering that their machines are made by Compal, Quanta, Foxconn, or Asus.

Some sources claim that Exon International Technology, a company in Hong Kong, makes all of the 400s, but that is not the case. It does make a 400 Linux mini-laptop , but there are other manufacturers of these, as noted above.

So here are the 400s brands, headquarters locations, and website links. There may be several more not listed (let us know), and there will surely be many, many more in the future. Hong Kong is a small, semiautonomous territory of the Peoples Republic of China adjoining the Pearl River Delta in South China. Shenzhou and Guangzhou are in the delta.

* Bestlink (or Belco) Alpha 400 (Hong Kong)
* 3K Computers Razorbook (Boca Raton, Florida)
* Trendtac 700 EPC (EPC700) (Netherlands)
* Elonex One T (One T+) (UK)
* Maplin Minibook (UK)
* Silverstar E-PC (UK)
* Yinlips Micro PC (Shenzhen, China)
* HiVision Mininote (Hong Kong [office], Shenzhen [factory])
* JAY-tech Jee-PC 400S (Germany)
* Letux 400 Linux Minibook (Germany) (Golden Delicious Computers)
* CnM Minibook (CnMBook) (UK)
* Novatech Minibook (UK) (Not available?)
* Skytone Alpha 400 (Guangzhou, China)
* SurfOne INOS1 (France)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alpha 400, Elonex 400: What are other names for the same thing?

There already are several brands in this platform, and I will list the ones I know about.

There will be many others, and that is part of how this platform will take over from the netbooks as the cheapest genre of computers.

So here are the brands:

* Bestlink (or Belco) Alpha 400
* 3K Computers Razorbook
* Trendtac 700 EPC (EPC700)
* Elonex One T (One T+),
* Maplin Minibook,
* Silverstar E-PC,
* Yinlips Micro PC
* HiVision Mininote,
* JAY-tech Jee-PC 400S
* Letux 400 Linux Minibook
* CnM Minibook (CnMBook)
* Novatech Minibook
* Skytone Alpha 400
* SurfOne INOS1

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Alpha 400 For $169.95--Where to Buy World's Cheapest Laptop/Notebook

Click here to find the cheapest price on the Alpha 400 from Bestlink.

This is a great little replacement for the Asus EEE at over $100 less! It's made in Shenzhen China and available from a source right here in the good old USA.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Elonex, Possibly Most Popular Rockbottom Mini-Laptop

There is an interesting article on the Elonex, which has sold over 200,000 units in the UK -- a very good start for the rockbottom movement -- here.

Please check this blog for ongoing news about the netbook / laptop race to the bottom.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Viva Las Vegas: 2009 CES, Consumer Electronics Association Show Wrapup

The big buzz on the blogs in December, and one of the biggest tech stories of the year, was a story that Coby, the drug-store electronics king, would be selling a laptop for about $100.

They denied it.

Yet at the just-completed CES show in Las Vegas, they exhibited a whole slew of laptops in a rainbow of colors. "Market research," they say. [Photo is on a picture frame by the makers of the Elonex mini laptop.]


Their only official statement so far is this:

Friday, Dec. 5, 2008
"Official Statement ...

Coby Electronics Corporation is not currently producing a PC nor is one headed to market at any price [emphasis added] under the company’s name." Read Coby's whole statement.

The day before (Dec. 4, 2008), some guy, Ross Rubin, contacted Coby about a story that Arkansas Indymedia had written on their netbook and explained how Rubin thought it was a hoax.

Also the day before (Dec. 4, 2008)
Rubin, had talked to bloggers and claimed that the story was a hoax. As one blog, Engadget put it, "Update: Our pal Ross Rubin noticed that his quote was two years old and did some digging -- yeah, this [Coby netbook] looks like a hoax through and through. So much for that."

Yes, so much for that. Ross Rubin's word was all it took. Lots of other media took up the cudgel for Rubin, for example, "A $100 Midget PC at the local dollar store? Not so fast."

What can one say except this: Dear Mr. Rubin....

If anyone had bothered to check, two months before the Arkansas Indymedia story came out, Coby registered a trademark for a "Coby netbook."

Now, if you want to believe your own two lying eyes, they seem to have changed their minds.

In case you don't want to see that rainbow of PC colors, the article says Coby will be offering its brand version of the China 400 platform (the Coby 400?). "Also, it’s worth noting that the mythical $100 netbook we first heard about isn’t likely to materialize anytime soon. Instead, Coby is going to bring a rebadged version of the generic Xburst netbook with a 400MHz MIPS-based CPU for about $139. Coby also has several machines with 8, 8.9, and 10 inch displays in its lineup. The top of the line 10 inch models are expected to sell for around $299." So it looks like the China 400 still will be the price leader.

Here's the specs for the Coby NBPC89 (Wi-Fi) / NBPC85 (no Wi-Fi).

Photo of COBY netbook.

Display: 7 inches, 800 x 480 pixels
CPU: Xburst 400 MHz, 32bits, (MIPS)
Storage: 1GB SLC NAND flash (up to 2GB)
Operating System: Linux
RAM: 128 MB
SD/MMC: Supports SDHC (up to 32 GB)
Graphics: Integrated
Wireless: 802.11b/g on the Wi-FI model
Phone Line: 10/100 LAN on both models
USB: 3 slots
Battery: 7.4-V, 2100-mAh battery; time, about 3 hours
Dimensions: 8.3″ x 5.6″ x 1.3″
Weight: 1.5 pounds

Specs per

The time frame for Coby-cheap netbooks? Possibly March 2009.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

ALPHA 400 Versus Intel's Misleading Term "Netbook"

Words matter. They define things in our minds and in the marketplace as well. Right now they are hindering the progress of cheapening our computers. "Netbook" is an example. The term is thought by many to define the cheapest laptops. It doesn't. The Alpha 400 and the other China 400s (400-MHz laptops) -- those are the cheapest and they deserve a better name, and hence many manufacturers use the term "minilaptop" or "mini-laptop" for them.

The Asus EEE was intended to represent and define the cheapest laptops. Asus failed in creating the cheapest laptops, though it did indeed popularize the concept of much cheaper computers. Its EEE model captured the public's imagination. Then Asus dropped the ball. In early 2008 they hitched their wagon to Intel, who had invented the term "netbook" and invented a definition of small, cheap computers with displays of up to 10.2 inches to go along with the term and Intel's new Atom processor (they don't want to see any cheap Atom computers at 10.3 or 10.5 inches).

As usual, Intel was self-serving. They never will favor cheaper computers because that means cheaper microprocessor chips. Same thing for Microsoft: How can Exon International Technology sell China 400s for $89 wholesale if they have to pay Microsoft $35 for XP or $18 for CE?

The term "netbook" is confusing, and deliberately so. It needs "disambiguation," as Wikipedia would say. Or it needs to be "deprecated," as the IEEE dictionary would say, at least for the China 400s.

The Asus EPC (EEE) versus the China 400s (Alpha 400, etc.)

Asus aimed for a price point of $200 but ended up near $300. As things turned out, the EEE is just another computer at the bottom end of the notebook segment in size and price. Asus has abandoned us bottom-feeders of computerdom and is selling "netbooks" that are getting more and more expensive.

The China 400 manufacturers, on the other hand, are still on course to produce the world's cheapest computers. This is not just a matter of semantics, it is is a matter of philosophy. The philosophy of the netbook is to keep the bottom from falling out of computer prices, to keep the foundation up so that the house above will not be divided against itself -- ever-lower computers prices versus high prices -- and fall.

If computer prices had kept pace with Moore's law (it decrees that the cost of transistors in a microprocessor will fall by one half every 18 month), computers would be much less than $100 (there's more to the cost than CPUs of course). Instead, Intel, Microsoft, HP, etc., kept alive as long as they could the old truism, "The computer you need is always $5000." Prices of mainstream computers generally are cheaper than that now, but still way too high compared to the cost of manufacture ($89 wholesale for China 400s by Exon Technology).

Call a Miniature Laptop What It Is

The most common term for portable computers for most people is "laptop." Notebooks, netbooks, and Alpha 400s are all laptops. The netbook is just a low-end notebook, smaller and usually cheaper than most. The China 400s are laptops of course, but miniature ones. That is why the Chinese call them "minilaptops" or "mini-laptops" (depending on the preference in hyphenation).

So let's get define our terms and get our market segments straight, and push for cheaper computers of all kinds, even at the top end.

Friday, January 9, 2009

ALPHA-400 Mini-Laptops: Smallest, Cheapest

This blog: The "China 400" mini laptops (Alpha 400, Elonex, etc.) -- the cheapest laptops -- rule! We'll keep'ya posted with tech details, cheapest deals, where to buy, and offbeat places where China 400s are sold. (Clayton Hallmark)

They're not netbooks (that's just an Intel gotcha word), not notebooks, not full-size laptops.

They lead the race to the bottom, in price, these 400-MHz miniature laptops from China -- therefore, they rule. It's a whole new platform, the China 400 / Alpha 400, and there will be dozens of brands besides Alpha 400 and hundreds of models eventually. All other "netbooks"/notebooks /laptops of whatever size will come down in price as a result.

For now, 400 MHz with an XBurst Chinese processor running Linux defines the world's cheapest TRUE computers. They can do about all that most people want: access the web by phone line or Wi-Fi, email, write notes and letters, view video, read almost all documents found online, run a printer or other equipment (and much more). For more, Google mini-laptop 400 .

The Linux eperience is superior to the Windows experience for most people.

Cheapest Deal Today (January 9, 2009): The cheapest version of the China 400 platform is the Alpha 400, available at for under $170 .

Latest News on China 400s:

Offbeat places to buy a computer: Marks & Spencer department stores in the UK -- in the fashion department . The China 400 on sale there is the UK's own Elonex, which got its start in schools. Remember how Apple got its foothold in the US? Elonex has sold over 200,000 to schools, not much less than the Asus EEE sold in the US in its first year.