Saturday, July 11, 2009

$100 PC Era Brought by Asus EEE PC, Not OLPC, After All: $129, 9" LCD, at Geeks (Also Alpha 400 at $134+)


The sweet spot of computer pricing apparently is not $99 as many of us thought, but $129. Geeks now offers a 7-inch Everex CloudBook for $129.99 (refurbished). They sold out of the refurbished Asus 900 at $129.99, which was supposed to be available through July 31. Sold out Saturday night, July 11. In the bargain they also sold out of the ALPHA-400 at $149.99, which they have been selling brand-new for a long time (presumably it will be restocked).

They also offer the newer Asus EEE PC 900A (note "A") for $179.99 again refurbished, details below.

Rounding out the best deals online, is the Alpha-400 (brand new) at $130-$150 when and if it is in stock.


Also, you can usually find a standard laptop, around 15-inch LCD, in the Sunday advertising flyers in your local paper for a few bucks over $300.

$129.99 Refurbished

* Everex CloudBook CE1200V VIA C7-M 1.2 GHz 7-inch Netbook

* General Features:
* Color: Black
* gOS Rocket Operating System pre-installed
* VIA C7-M 1.2 GHz Ultra Low Voltage Processor
* VIA VX700 Northbridge / Southbridge chipset
* 512 MB DDR2 533 MHz SDRAM (1 GB maximum supported)
* 30 GB hard drive
* No Optical Drive
* VIA UniChrome Pro IGP graphics
* Built-in Webcam
* VIA VT1708A Vinyl High-Definition Audio Codec with built-in speakers
* Realtek 8100C 10/100 Base-TX Ethernet
* Realtek 802.11b/g Wireless Network Adapter
* 80-key US keyboard with TouchPad
* 7-inch WVGA Widescreen Display (800 x 480 native resolution)
* Built-in 4-in-1 Card Reader
$179.99 Refurbished

* Asus Eee PC 900A Atom N270 1.60 GHz 8.9-inch Netbook

* General Features:
* Pearl white color
* Asus customized Linux operating system
* Intel Atom N270 1.60 GHz processor
* 4 GB SSD (Solid-State Disk) internal storage capacity
* No optical drive
* No floppy drive
* Intel UMA integrated video
* Integrated high definition audio with built-in speakers
* Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
* 802.11b/g Wireless LAN
* Keyboard with touchpad
* Built-in memory card reader
* 8.9-inch Wide LCD display with 1024 x 600 resolution (WSVGA)



One of the things that capitalists fear the most, believe it or not, is the concept of a $100 PC. That's why ever since the Asus EEE came out in October 2007 there has been constant pressure to up the performance -- and of course the price -- from every kind of news and PR source and of course from Microsoft, who have practically been willing to give away their once-discarded XP OS to get it on so-called "netbooks" (as their partner in crime, Intel, promptly dubbed them).

The $100 PC originally was promised by the nonprofit OLPC (One Laptop Per Child project), and they failed to deliver, even switched from Linux to that "vast capitalist conspiracy," Windows. Even Asus failed to attain $100 exactly and switched to Windows also.

But can we finally agree that the day of "the computer you need is always $5000" -- gross exploitation of computer consumers by corporate capitalism -- is over and the day of $100 PCs (laptops, notebooks, MIDs, smartphone computers, etc.) is finally here? I mean, if can sell a 9-inch version for $129.95, that's close enough for me to declare victory. Even if it is only for July 2009. And even if the unit is a refurb (3-month warranty, which American Express should extend to 1-year if you use them). (Buyer Beware: When you order on a special deal online, don't forget to apply the "secret savings code," 900M here, at checkout to get the near $100 price . Write the code down as soon as you see it.) If you insist on brand new, and if a 7-inch screen will suffice, the same outfit offers our beloved ALPHA-400, always, day in and day out, for $149.99 (sometimes near $130) .

As I said in October 2007, the Asus EEE PC will be remembered as the Model T of computers -- the computer for the masses that put the world on the Web (and not just the core developed nations). In a sense, there is a chance to get your piece of history -- and as Henry Ford might say today, "In any color you want, as long as it's black or white."


On a recent trip to the Microcenter store out in Mayfield Heights, I was shocked to find not one Linux notebook. And this was one of the first retailers to carry the Asus EEE PC in bricks-and-mortar stores. More recently, news reports say that Microsoft XP has about a 99-percent share in mini-laptops (netbooks) being sold now.

Do you feel baited and switched? It's a technique as old as retailing, mercantilism, and probably trade itself; and it works best under capitalism: "Underpowered." "Unfamiliar." "For kids." "Not for intensive gaming, video editing [or whatever]." "Needs a larger screen for real work" [as large as that mural-sized LCD on your wall, or is a 2" cellphone screen enough sometimes?]. Or as Bill Gates famously said, "Geez, get yourself a decent computer."


Ultimately the Wintel netbook version of bait and switch will fail. People will try the various versions of Linux and find that Windows is not easier, just more familiar. But HERE IS WHY MICROSOFT ALWAYS SEEMS TO WIN: The Wizard hides behind an iron curtain of PC magazine and Engadget propaganda -- incorporating PC users themselves and foolish word-of-mouth on forums, in comments, etc. -- convincing people that he is all-wise and that they need him to boss them, and especially to provide all of their software needs. Anything else, he will tell them, is difficult and unreliable. I would venture that everyone reading this knows that that is of course a lie.

The average person who tries a Linux laptop or notebook or other device and overcomes the simple-minded snare of familiarity will agree with me as well. Remember, Linux is the computer language of the people. It is there to help. Commercial software is something that has been fenced in (like land in the Range Wars of the Old West), copyrighted, and patented and is out there to make a profit for the richest man in the world.

So to doubters, quit being a computer wimp and a baby: Give up the security blanket of boxed, store-bought software and try open-source, the software of the people.

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