Sunday, November 4, 2007

Super Cheap Functioning Laptops

Many people have heard of the "One Laptop Per Child" (OLPC) program (Please excuse the terrible site. Here is the wiki, much better ;). The gist of OLPC is many companies have banded together to create a sub $200 laptop geared towards school children. It is expected the developing nations of the world will buy these units up in large numbers. They then will use them to increase the quality of education by giving the children a chance to experience the "greatness" of the internet, the word processor, the spreadsheet program, the mp3 yada yada yada... So anyway some guy over at Asustek, the maker of Asus brand computers decided "hey, lets build a ultra cheap laptop that is geared towards the Adult demographic". Great idea guy. Check out the EEE pc.

I had some hands on time with the OLPC at the OSCON convention last July. It was neat in the sense of how far technology has come. It seems to work, which is an accomplishment considering the nature of the project, and conference attendees all seemed genuinely impressed. My deal though is this: it is a laptop geared towards a 8 to 10 year old boy. The color scheme and user interface all scream to this effect. I would not buy one of these and lug it into a coffee shop. Guys like me already have enough trouble making acquaintances without hauling a "hello kitty" lunch box everywhere we go. So in comes the Asus EEE pc. Seems to look good enough. The interface is simple. See mock up here. It also includes all the applications a person such as my mother, god mother, or wife need. Its perfect for Facebooking, instant messaging, video conferencing, writing email, browsing the web, plus the rest of the top 20. If it provides a seemless enough experience I think soon we will be seeing many more of these types of machines around.

Now the crazy thing is both the EEE pc and OLPC are Linux based. Why you ask? Duh, because a copy of Windows is a few hundred bucks. The computer itself will likely cost less than a copy of Windows Vista Professional! Oh oh M$, your days may soon be the slightest bit darker. As an aside I read somewhere, not saying I believe it, but M$ got scared that Windows would not be running on the EEE and so are giving Asus a chance to offer XP at $40 dollers as an upgrade. How many will spring for this? Not a single person I know. When you figure that the Linux based OS is tailored to the EEE it would be hard to beat it. Not to mention but the EEE runs on a very small amount of disk space. This disk space is all flash memory and clocks in at 4 to 8 gigs. Windows will suck up your whole disk!