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Portables Hardware IT

The Sub-$100 Laptop? 345

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-extras-like-disk-drives-and-batteries dept.
Vollernurd writes "The BBC is carrying this article detailing Nick Negroponte's plans to deveop and distribute a sub-$100 notebook computer. It would be very basic and stripped down and be used in developing countries as a way of distributing school books and such. Interesting to see how they will cut costs. Yes, it does run Linux." You can read another slashdot story about this machine when it was discussed on Red Herring awhile ago.
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The Sub-$100 Laptop?

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  • This is a dupe (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @11:42AM (#11606552)
  • Re:Old news (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @11:45AM (#11606603)
    Yes, once again, the "editors" ignored their subscribers who reported this as a dupe.
  • by NotFamous (827147) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @11:48AM (#11606639) Homepage Journal
    I bought a PII-266 Compaq Armada with 128MB Ram and a 3.8 GB HD on Ebay and I'm running Mandrake on it. It cost $99.95 (including shipping). It's my sub-100 laptop and it works just fine, thnak you.
  • Re:Error in TFA? (Score:3, Informative)

    by yotto (590067) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @11:48AM (#11606643) Homepage
    Um, why is using slower memory a GOOD thing?
    Because it's cheaper? Cheaper is better when you're trying to reach a certain price-point.
  • by vegetasaiyajin (701824) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @11:59AM (#11606747)
    You ignorant. Not all third world countries are the same. I live in one and Iknow lots of people who cannotcurrently afford a computer, but would be able to buy a 100$ one. We don't have intermitent power. In fact our third world power infrastructure is better than some parts of the first world (e.g. California not long ago). These computers would be perfect for a country like ours.
  • by KronicD (568558) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:03PM (#11606773) Homepage
    The article says that the device has to use a rear projection based display rather than a traditional LCD in order to keep costs low enough.
  • Re:This is a dupe (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:04PM (#11606786)
    He has. Didn't you hear? He's gone [slashdot.org]!
  • by greenhide (597777) <<jordanslashdot> <at> <cvilleweekly.com>> on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:05PM (#11606797)
    These would be invaluable in things like health clinics, where a wealth of information could suddenly be made available, for much less than the cost of purchasing a set of books on medicine and diseases.

    The point is that this technology is needed there; at the current price point, it's completely out of reach of the consumer. Offering these laptops at a reasonable price means that finally those who need these laptops can purchase them.

    I sincerely doubt that these laptops will be used primarily for recreational purposes, so someone who really does need them might willingly take out a loan in order to purchase one.

    NGOs, for one, will certainly be snapping these up. These notebooks will make their work so much easier.

    Perhaps it might be useful to offer laptops to lower income westerners (I'm thinking particularly of urban and rural poor), but lower middle class westerners can suck it up and use a credit card if they really want a laptop. Even Apple has laptops starting for less than $1000.

    The "intermittent power access" is why they're using laptops rather than desktops, which, if you think about it, would be much cheaper anyway. Laptops need less power overall, and you can plug them in during the 2-3 hours of scheduled "uptime" on the local grid. For clinics running off of generators, desktops, which would put a huge drain on the electricity, were probably just not possible (or, if they were, it might be one desktop computer for a dozen or more people). With laptops, they can now use several.

    So there are a lot of benefits to offering these inexpensive laptops. While this is certainly a commercial offering and not a "donation" to developing countries, it is nevertheless a very beneficial thing being done. Although technology is not the "answer to the problem", it can be an invaluable tool for the real solutions. I believe that the available of inexpensive laptops just might transform developing countries as much as the introduction of wireless phones has.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:08PM (#11606823) Journal
    I believe it was somebody from Commodore (or Atari) who said that (in subject line) back in the early 80's. At the time the primary display for home computers (since it was the C-64 and Atari's...and Apples) were composite monitors and TV's. It's what everybody had.

    You could...and they did build computers that were at the sweet spot of $200 bucks. People forget that Commodore sold MILLIONS of Vic-20's and C-64's

    With High def capable TV's being sold (even without an HDTV tuner) and HDMI and DVI connectors on them it seems that you could do this again. Make a $200 (or less) computer with a keyboard and mouse (or maybee track pad) attached or built into it and connect it via HDMI to to a high def capable tv (HDMI also includes sound).

    The manufacturer that comes out with a device like this could sell A LOT of these devices!
  • by bynary (827120) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:23PM (#11606952) Homepage
    No, they are not all the same, but I believe that where you live is probably the exception and not the rule. I have lived in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Oregon, California, and Idaho. Without a doubt, the worst power infrastructure was in the D.R. followed by Bolivia. We had rolling blackouts the entire year I lived in Santo Domingo. Now, I would imagine you live in Venezuela based on your sig. Your neighbors to the North and the South are not as fortunate as you. I would also imagine that the people in your country and other developing nations who can afford a $100 laptop are not the poor but the middle class.

    Also, what happened in California was an anomaly.
  • by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:33PM (#11607086)
    There are starving people in America too. I don't see anyone attacking the computer industry here....
  • by dmaxwell (43234) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @12:47PM (#11607246)
    The tricky part is the hard drives. They really want to see +/- 12V. I'm pretty sure, and please, someone correct me, that you could actually provide that by providing the +12V leg of the system with the straight power, and simply reversing the polarity of power coming in for the -12V. That is assuming that you can't find a hard drive that operates at 5V. I'm too lazy to research it.

    Actually, hard drives want to see +12, +5, and ground. All of which can be supplied by a 12V supply. However, other components in the system may want to see -12,-5, G, +5, +12. You cannot simply reverse the leads on such a device. The "ground" or "(-)" floats above or below the actual ground and is a reference point for the other voltages. You can look at it as a +24 volt supply that has been referenced with +12V being the "ground" with other voltages above or below this reference. The -12,+12 point of view is equally valid as long as you are consistent. The point is that most computers expect a spread of levels that span 24 volts.
  • by rjune (123157) on Tuesday February 08, 2005 @01:34PM (#11607930)
    I'm not sure how close to reality this is, but I would push for this to be adopted by my son's school. The parents currently pay a $50 yearly technology fee, so a $100 for a computer that would belong to them is very reasonable. To put the cost in perspective, price out a Game Boy with a couple of games.

    We have a mish-mosh of donated machines, some of which should just be recycled and put out of our and its misery. Each child having thier own computer would alleviate a whole host of problems, and would create a few new ones. Having the first world countries buying a few million of these would provide an economy of scale that would make them more accessible for the third world countries.

    We will be discussing the possibilities at the Tech Meeting this week.

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