Saturday, February 28, 2009

400 Maker Makes #9 in UK Laptop Sales (in less than 1 yr): ELONEX

Elonex went from zero to No. 9 in consumer laptop sales in the UK last year.

These things, the 400-MHz MIPS mini-laptops, can sell, and Elonex has the sales figures to prove it.

The current version is the Elonex ONEt. To read more, check this out.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Elonex ONEt (popular in Europe) for Just 99 Pounds ($143) ... Coby Netbook Has Model No., Trademark

Maplin Electronics in the UK has the Elonex ONEt, a refurbished one, that is, for 99 pounds, for Web order only, at . This is a limited-time offer, while supplies last. The refurbs come with a 3-month warranty. Heck, if they last that long, they most likely will last as long a new one.

On another 400-MHz MIPS mini-laptop (Alpha-400 lookalike), the proposed netbook from Coby Electronics has both a trademark and a model number, NBPC892. For more, see: .

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's the Big Deal About a "Crayola" or "Hello Kitty" Version of the MIPS 400 / ALPHA 400?

This Sakar mini-laptop appears to be another clone of the Alpha 400 / Razorbook 400 / HiVision MiniNote / Elonex ONEt / Maplin.

It is called the "Sakar MiniBook," or PC-01017, or possibly the "Limited Too" (no wisecracks about the latter, please).  

The Big Deal is this: It could take the MIPS-400 platform mainstream. Take a look at the partial list of stores the company, Sakar International, sells to.

No one has taken ANY computer to all of these places, or anything close to that. In fact, no one has taken any computer to the mass-retail market. Sakar could become the most widely distributed computer in the US.

If Sakar doesn't do it, someone else will, probably this year. The significance to the computer, information-technology, and electronics industries is earthshaking.

Really cheap computers -- when made widely available -- will be the biggest thing since the initial sale of the IBM PC in 1981.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sakar, a new 400-MHz MIPS--From the Crayola and Hello Kitty people ...

This is what I have been hoping for -- a proliferation of brands, with fanciful names, in new markets, for the lowest cost computers, the 400s. Now Sakar has come on board, with a mini-laptop said to resemble the Razorbook 400. Sakar is basically a licensing company that buys rights to well known brands like the above and puts them on cameras, MP3 players, and other consumer electronics for kids -- and now computers.

"Sell No Computer Above This Price"

Sakar claims it will sell no computer for more than $299. This is good, but, c'mon people -- the Alpha 400 already sells for over a hundred dollars less, $130 less to be exact. Why pay more?

What'll it be? The Hello Kitty 400?

The "Hello Kitty 400" has an about-8-inch screen and a keyboard somewhat larger than a Razorbook's. It has built-in Wi-Fi. No doubt it hails from Shenzhen China (see previous articles in this blog).

Still this is a good sign that we are headed for sub-$100 notebooks on bubblepack cards at Walgreens and your local independent dollar stores. The path will be: a profusion of brands of similar, but ever cheaper and smaller, computers in more and more markets. This one was spotted at the Toy Fair 2009. For more details and a video, check this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Best Prices on the ALPHA-400, Around $170

Two California companies are offering the Alpha-400 online. sells for $169.95 but is sometimes out of stock. So another alternative is Star Surplus. Click below for details from each.



Alpha 400 MIPS 400MHz 128MB 1GB 7'' Linux: Cheapest Laptop on the Planet

This blog: The "China 400" mini laptops (Alpha 400, HiVision MiniNote, Razorbook 400, Elonex ONEt, 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.

Alpha-400s are 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.

We'll present all of the technical details here, along with the progress of the Alpha-400 in leading the race to the bottom in the price wars. Above is what one looks like inside.

For now, 400 MHz with an XBurst Chinese MIPS 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: 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.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

¿Hablas Linux?

Do you speak Linux? All the world does. The Cuban government is pushing the use of the Cuban Linux OS, called "Nova," and expects "that in five years our country will have more than 50 percent migrated (to Linux)." One has to wonder How many other countries will adopt this policy and reach 50-percent Linux usage? See the entire article at:

Apart from security concerns, free software better suits Cuba's worldview: "The free-software movement is closer to the ideology of the Cuban people, above all for the independence and sovereignty."

I feel same way about software. Paying for software seems like a ripoff and, well, undemocratic, like paying for air and water.

That is why I started this blog. We have been ripped off too long by US software companies, mere publishers charging us thousands of dollars over a period of years, and by US computer makers who are not makers of anything except profits. I was so incensed that -- would you believe it? -- I almost bought one of the DOS computers shown. That was before I found out about the HiVision MiniNote, 3K's Razorbook 400, and the Belco/Bestlink Alpha-400.

The computer in the photo is still available from California Digital (interesting site, BTW) for $159. It conforms to my guidelines -- Small-Cheap-Easy -- but it runs only DOS. At this stage, I am not much interested in building things and programming things, just using them, however; so the 400s are what I am looking for in a "cheapest" computer. These things, the Fujitsu Poquet PC Plus computers, originally cost over $2000, and the technology is well worth a look. For example, the Poquet truly is instant-on, more so than any of the 400s. Also, it runs off 2 AA batteries for weeks. And it's great for hacking and experimenting. The whole California Digital site is well worth a look.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

psst ... mister, GET AN APPLE FOR 499 EUROS = $643, or will you settle for a Pear?

A German company at the above link is offering "The PC with Mac OS X" for 499 euros, (currently $643). It's not officially an "Apple"; they call it the PearC. Get it? Well, why not get one if you are into that type of machine? This Apple is stuffed with "Intel Inside," which I guess is what makes it a Pear.

A US company also has one for $555 plus tax and shipping, as shown at this link: . Or you can call them (Psystar Corp.) at 1-888-456-7801 (hours, 9-5).

Of course I much prefer the 400-MHz MIPS platform, and you can get one from Bestlink Electronics for $149 plus shipping (from Hong Kong) at: . It does all I need it to do for the world's cheapest price-- a really good deal. has them (part No.: ALPHA-400) in and out of stock, sometimes, at . The price is $169.99 plus shipping, and the company is in California.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Asus RAISING All Computer Prices 20% -- So long, Cheap EEEs!

So much for the cheap "netbook." The originator of the so-called "netbook" with its EEE launched in late 2007 has just announced it is raising prices on all products by 20 percent. It is big news. See: .

This proves what I have been saying, that Asus and other "netbook" makers have been pulling a classic bait-and-switch on us. Stores and traders have being doing this for time immemorial. Offer one product at a cheap price, then raise the price or offer an inferior product once you have a buyer on the hook.

They will be sorry. Much cheaper computers than even the 400s are coming (see the bubblepack PC at the right). The netbook is showing its true colors: not a real category, just a low-end notebook.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Here's 2 Videos: Tiny $149 PC Does It All, and Easy


"$149 DOES MOST PC JOBS: Testing World's Smallest, Cheapest Laptops"

Click to view:

Tom Similjan from Switched shows two little Linux laptops (Asus EEE and Everex Cloudbook) and shows how easy it is to "jump out of Windows" and into Linux.

Tom shows you can do it all on a 7-inch Linux laptop, including the ultracheap ones in this blog. It is easy -- easier than Windows -- and much cheaper. Much of what he says in the video applies to the 400-type (400-MHz) mini-laptops like the ALPHA-400, HiVision, Razorbook, and Elonex ONEt.

If you have any doubts about the usefulness or usability/friendliness of a $149 or $169 mini-laptop, Tom's video should dispel those doubts and let you buy. So please watch.


"LINUX IS EASY: HERE'S SIMPLE DETAILS: $98 Linux Laptop - The HiVision miniNote"

Click to view:

HiVision makes the world's cheapest Linux laptop at $98 (wholesale), using a new, cheaper MIPS-based processor (the Ingenic XBurst from China), WiFi, and 1-GB flash storage. It runs Linux, has 3 USB ports, Ethernet, SDHC card reader, audio in and out, voice-chat, Skype, multitabbed Firefox browser, and Abiword for word processing. Automatic and secure online software updates are available. The current model is running a smooth and pretty snappy Linux user interface.

In this video, Nicolas Charbonnier (aka Charbax) got to borrow a review sample of the laptop overnight during a trade show, and he shows you all the browser and other software interfaces in this extended video review of this cheap MIPS-based laptop. It's the ideal laptop: Small, Cheap, Easy.

"LINUX IS EASY: HERE'S SIMPLE DETAILS: $98 Linux Laptop - The HiVision miniNote"

Click to view:

Friday, February 6, 2009

Purchase 3K Computers' RazorBook 400 for $195

The popular RazorBook brand of 400 laptop is now available at Proadvantage for $195.37. Click here to see more:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A SELLOUT --- Alpha 400s Fly off the Shelves, Can't Keep'em In

Remember how the Asus EEE started out in October 2007? I do. Constantly out of stock.

Now that Asus "netbook" has gone uptown on us, in price, the World's Cheapest Computer, the Alpha 400s, are selling so fast they can't keep them in stock at Computer Geeks -- see here click.

It's a good sign, and the Belco Alpha 400 definitely is worth waiting on it for a few days.

India Shows $10-$20 Laptop ($10US, 500 Rupees, 8 Euros, 7.25 GBP)


Tirumpati, India, February 3, 2000 -- India is showing off a prototype of what is to be the world's cheapest laptop / notebook, the Sakshat, which is variously reported to have a price tag of just 10 or 20 US dollars. This is truly a depression computer and marks an astonishing level of deflation in prices of technical goods.

Indian government sources say the prototype is the centerpiece of an ambitious e-learning program to link 18,000 colleges and 400 universities across the country.

India has a reputation for creating ultra-cheap technologies, a trend sparked last year by the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car at $2500 (see Nano).

The computer, known as Sakshat, which translates as "before your eyes", will be launched as part of a new 46 billion RS "national mission for education." This envisages a network of laptops from which students can access lectures, coursework and specialist help from anywhere in India, triggering a revolution in education. A number of publishers have reportedly agreed to upload portions of their textbooks on to the system.

Prabhakar Rao, vice-chancellor of the university in Andhra Pradesh from where the Sakshat will be launched, said that India was "looking to get the hardware and software cheaper. In a developing country, costs have to be kept low so that the maximum number of students will benefit. That means cheap computers and cheap broadband access, so that students get access to ebooks and ejournals."

Designed by scientists at the Vellore Institute of Technology, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and the state-controlled Semiconductor Complex, the laptop has 2 GB of RAM and wireless connectivity. To keep costs low, experts say it will not use familiar Microsoft Windows software.

Officials are confident that the Rs500 price tag can be met. R.P. Agarwal, the top civil servant for Indian higher education, told newspapers last week that "at this stage, the price is working out to be US$20, but with mass production it is bound to come down," presumably to the $10 target mentioned by other sources.

However, some experts doubt that a laptop at US$20 or US$10 is commercially sustainable. Rajesh Jain, managing director of Netcore Solutions and a pioneer of low-cost computing in India, said: "You cannot even [make] a computer screen for $20. And India does not build much computer hardware. So where will the savings come from?"


The actual course of the race to the bottom is more apt to work out as follows. More and more manufacturers and brands will adopt the 400-MHz MIPS-processor technology of the Alpha 400, Elonex, HiVision, Razorbook, etc., of this blog. There probably will be 30 or more brands of 400s in a year or two.

The 400s are the successors to the Asus EEE as the low-price leader. Essentially, Asus has abandoned the quest for least price and joined Microsoft and Intel in their quest to keep prices and profits high. The EEE is nothing more than a bait-and-switch tactic of Asus, who apparently never had any intention to produce laptops for $200, much less $100 or less.

The quest will be furthered when the circuitry on the 400 or a similar machine is reduced to perhaps two or three chips, using the system-on-a-chip (SoC) approach: whole chip sets and the motherboard being replaced by a few very large chips on a small PCB (printed-circuit board).

A post below shows the interior of the Alpha 400 using current technology. The SoC approach can certainly reduce the IC count and circuit-board size and complexity. Already the Alpha 400 can be sold (by Exon International) for $89 wholesale, so an equivalent laptop using SoC technology and selling for $75 or less in the coming year seems well within reason.

Also reducing the cost to the consumer will be new marketing techniques, for example selling the mini-laptops on bubblepack cards (photo) on racks in dollar stores, drugstores, grocery stores, and the like.