Thursday, March 12, 2009

MINIMALIST / SHRINKAGE MOVEMENT IN COMPUTING, No. 1 of 8: All-China 400s ... Cheapest Laptops / Notebooks / Netbooks ... ($129 Plus Shipping)

This series of articles is based on the philosophy of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as expressed in his motto "Less is more." This is not just an expediency to get through an economic depression, it is a way out of the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Sooner or later, all of us, from President Obama on down, are going to have to consider this. Computers are a good place to start.

At the request of a reader, here are free-to-use photos of the Alpha 400 along with a list of Alpha-400 clones -- the ALL-CHINA 400s, I call them. Despite all the talk of ARM-architecture processors from QualComm and Texas Instruments moving in from the smartphones and MIDs and taking over the low end of the laptop market, they can't yet come close in price.

They might never take over because an all-Chinese solution like the Alpha 400 (photos) will prove hard to beat in pricing. By "all-Chinese" I mean Chinese processors, Chinese software, and Chinese assembly.

Do I recommend what I am writing about? Yes, yes, yes -- by all means buy one. Now, I am all about tightwad computing rather than power computing, but that doesn't mean the tightwad buyer can completely ignore specifications -- at least features and connection ports. The Alpha 400 has it all ... can take the place of a full-size computer most of the time for me. Most of these devices are like that. But when bottom-feeding, watch out for other laptops that don't support Adobe Flash. If you don't need that, then by all means go for the cheapest.

Another thing to watch is connectivity. For just $129, you can get an Impulse NPX-9000 from Impulse Global. You'll have to communicate with it via USB, however, as it has no built-in WiFi or RJ45. Impulse sells a WiFi dongle for $12. There are three USB 2.0 ports and a flash viewer. The Impulse uses the Marvell XScale ARM-type CPU (Marvell bought the business from Intel in 2006). It is supposed to be available for $150 for one (sample price), but Lysha Panjabi at the distributor Carapelli Computers Ltd. told me they would sell just one for $129 plus shipping. Again, thats for just one. Contact Lysha at Carapelli dot net.

The J-Pro JL7100 (Samsung ARM 9-based) is a great buy at $99 -- but that's in quantities. You can get a sample unit for $149. It has an RJ45 LAN port for DSL. There are 3 USB ports. For WiFi, you would need to buy a WiFi dongle. You can see it at . Join Technology also offers a 7200 model mini laptop that has been updated with WiFi, for more money of course.

AND HERE'S MY UPDATED LIST (If you can add any, please let me know.) I will keep adding mini laptops until we get up to about 30 or so....

* Bestlink (or Belco) Alpha 400 (Hong Kong)
* CnM Minibook (CnMBook) (UK)
* Elonex One T (One T+) (UK)
* HiVision Mininote (Hong Kong [office], Shenzhen [factory])
* Impulse NPX-9000 (Guangzhou, China)
* JAY-tech Jee-PC 400S (Germany)
* J-Pro (JoinTech) JL7100 (Hong Kong)
* Letux 400 Linux Minibook (Germany) (Golden Delicious Computers)
* Maplin Minibook (UK)
* Novatech Minibook (UK) (Not available?)
* Razorbook, 3K Computers (Boca Raton, Florida)
* Silverstar E-PC (UK)
* Skytone Alpha 400 (Guangzhou, China)
* SurfOne INOS1 (France)
* Trendtac 700 EPC (EPC700) (Netherlands)
* Yinlips Micro PC (Shenzhen, China)

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible to connect Centronics printer to them? Or any USB-centronics converter?