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HP Portables Hardware

HP Unveils Small Commercial Linux Laptop 242

Posted by Zonk
from the micro-penguins-on-the-go dept.
Ryan writes "HP had unveiled their version of a miniaturized laptop for school kids. The tiny device boasts speeds up to 1.6 gigahertz. They haven't yet decided on a name, but 'netbooks' is one possibility. They will be used for surfing the Internet and doing other basic tasks like word processing. The company plans to have 50 million units available in the marketplace by 2011. Optical drives have been left out to prevent kids from playing 'unauthorized games.' Weighing less than 3 pounds with a tiny 8.9 inch screen, the machines start below $500 for a Linux-based model. Prices are expected to be higher for Windows Vista models."
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HP Unveils Small Commercial Linux Laptop

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  • 500 bucks? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:33PM (#23001702) Homepage Journal
    Try again.
  • 1.6GHz? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:33PM (#23001710)
    From TFA:

    ... Prices go up for Windows Vista models with faster processors.

    The processors HP is using are made by Via Technologies Inc., the distant third-ranked player in the microprocessor space, and come in clock speeds up to 1.6 gigahertz. ...

    I interpret that as saying that the non-Vista machines will be running a slower processor while the Vista versions get the 1.6GHz model. My son's Toshiba laptop, purchased this last Christmas, runs Vista at about that speed. It sucks. (That's a unanimous opinion among all members of our household, geeks and non-geeks alike. Even the cats hate it.)

    Won't someone really think of the children for once?

  • Something lined up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bombula (670389) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:36PM (#23001750)
    The company plans to have 50 million units available in the marketplace by 2011

    They must have some massive orders lined up. Unless that number is wrong, no WAY do you talk about figures that large without clear knowledge of huge orders already in the pipeline. That'd basically be one for every schoolchild in the US by 2011.

    Could they be in talks with, for example, the folks in charge of the education changes that will be coming with the changing of the guard from republican to democrat White House administrations? Or with foreign governments (in both developed and developing countries)?

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:36PM (#23001752) Homepage Journal
    a core2duo laptop with a 120gb HDD and a DVD rewritable drive... not to mention a 15.6inch screen -_-
  • Authorized by whom (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge (645043) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:37PM (#23001756)

    Optical drives have been left out to prevent kids from playing 'unauthorized games.
    Authorized by whom? I sincerely hope they mean the children's parents.

    This kind of language reminds me of this great xkcd.com piece [xkcd.com].
  • by davecrusoe (861547) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:37PM (#23001758) Homepage
    ... of making inexpensive, simple and rugged laptops for world education? I do believe it's been co-opted by the idea of "small", but not necessarily "inexpensive", "rugged" or "adaptable" to hard environments. For instance, $500 is way above the original marks set by OLPC, I believe, and even the marks above the other OLPC clone manufacturers. Can anyone weigh in on this? $500+ is bizarre, given how inexpensive fully-featured laptops are these days... --Dave
  • Games? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman (158191) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:48PM (#23001924) Homepage Journal
    From TFA: HP executives say the only major feature its Mini-Note lacks is an optical drive for ingesting DVDs and CD-ROMs, which can be bought separately. But they say many schools requested the drives be left out to prevent students from playing unauthorized games.

    Um, what? Every time I go to the library, all the computers are occupied by kids playing a million different Flash games online. None of them are playing games that involve CDs. And plenty of small games can be run locally by saving the .SWF file, which one kid will figure out how to do in 5 minutes and the rest will know 2 seconds later.
  • by an.echte.trilingue (1063180) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:49PM (#23001950) Homepage
    Yeah, but children have different needs. They will etch their names in the case, drop it, routinely hold it by the lid, drop it, spill stuff on it, drop it, get that cookie-saliva goo mixture from their fingers on it, etc. For a child, a tough slow box is worth more than a fragile powerful machine.
  • by paulpach (798828) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:50PM (#23001954)
    ...that weights 3 pounds?

    Heck you can get those specs for about $300 on a desktop.

    The fact is that you are paying that much because of the weight, because of how portable it is. The closest thing to your specs that weights 4 pounds is the mac book air and that starts at $1700.
  • "Try Again" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @12:55PM (#23002040)
    Optical drives have been left out to prevent kids from playing 'unauthorized games.'

    Of course, being kids, they will require ~30 seconds (maybe less) to figure out a way around this. USB optical drive / keychain drive? Check. Daemon Tools and ISO image? Check. No-CD Patch of whatever game they want to run? Check. Web games, bittorrent, whatever else their little hearts might desire? Check.

    I have a vision of 1,000s of kids sitting in school, on school-approved laptop, all endowed with MAME and console emulators... "and god looked down, and saw that it was good."

    Heh.
  • Re:500 bucks? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by snl2587 (1177409) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:09PM (#23002252)

    Price inflation? 'Fraid not, sir: If a gallon of water cost $0.25 in 1970 (I don't know the actual price) and it costs $1.50 in 2008, then $1.50 now is $0.25 in 1970 dollars (assuming the actual cost of water in terms of everything else did not change).

  • Re:1.6GHz? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amiran . u s> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:11PM (#23002274) Homepage Journal
    They did.

    That's why they ship Linux

    ASUS's EeePc has the bigger manufactures salivating. Their nothing thinking standard desktop/laptop replacement, they're trying to look at alternative markets.

    Disposable computers, super-light-weight computers, computers for Grandma/Grandpa, and network-only computers.

    These are all areas in which Vista cannot compete at a given price range, and are separate market segments from traditional computing. The only problem (for Microsoft) is that if Linux catches on in all these spaces, Linux will finally have a strong niche from which to leap into the mainstream market.

    If there are 50-150 million lightweight, 1+ ghz Linux laptops out there with a GMA X3100 or equivalent graphics chip; then there's a beautiful market for software. Games included.
  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:12PM (#23002296) Journal
    My kid has her own PC. Doesn't stop her from using her Speak and Spell, her LeapPad or her Etch-a-Sketch.

    Just because new toys come along with technology that makes geeks go "Gee-whiz that's cool' doesn't mean the old tools suddenly become garbage.

    Hell, half the time the new tools are the garbage, just takes you a little while after purchase to find out.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:16PM (#23002342) Homepage Journal
    You pay a premium for a smaller form factor. Big laptops have always been cheap. And small laptops used to be very expensive until recently.
  • Re:"Try Again" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#23002354) Journal

    The day that a "kid" is able to run WOW or Counterstrike in WINE without an optical drive is the day that I'll fart dust and piss rust.

    Now that I've got you on record...

    WoW works, out of the box, on Wine, with maybe one small tweak -- and kids tend to tweak out their WoW anyway, as it's somewhat scriptable, in a few small, deliberate ways.

    It is possible, though unlikely, that a kid wouldn't be able to figure out how to install it from an ISO. Were that the case, all it takes is copying the .wine directory to wherever you need it to be, because once installed, it doesn't check for the CD -- being an MMO is much better copy protection than any CD scheme they could do.

    And remember, it only takes one kid to do that, throw it on his iPod, and teach the other kids the three or so steps that it'll take to copy it to the laptop's hard drive.

    If they really don't want people to play games, they should just give it a crappy video card... Oh wait, they plan to have a Vista model. Never mind.

  • by kris.montpetit (1265946) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:19PM (#23002396)

    I think PR should have gone with the real, better excuse for not including an optical drive:

    This notebook is really small, and optical drives are going the way of the floppy disk.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:23PM (#23002460)
    The inevitable "I can get a bigger and faster machine for the same price" post. These are getting irritating. Smaller size and lighter weight are features.
  • Re:"Try Again" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qbzzt (11136) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:23PM (#23002468)
    Optical drives have been left out to prevent kids from playing 'unauthorized games.'

    How about "Optical drives have been left out to drive down the cost, but some marketing weenie thought it would sound better if the press release said it was for the children"?

    Engineering is about reality. Marketing is about perceptions.
  • by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:28PM (#23002540) Journal

    Is it too conservative to point out that you don't introduce new technology to a culture by selling it to the poorest of them, or even the "average"?

    Is it too liberal to suggest that in some cases governments might invest in technology for students to improve their nation's future position in the world?

    Is it anti-american to point out that $500 today isn't any more than $250 was three years ago to the rest of the world because their currency is up and ours is down? Those GDP numbers need some serious adjustment for recent changes in global currencies.

    Whatever. There are cheaper options but the more diversity in the market the better from my point of view. Just keep the watts down. I don't want the third world burning 350W of carbon per schoolkid just to join us online. The gamers with their >1HP monster gaming rigs are bad enough.

  • Re:"Try Again" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @01:34PM (#23002628)
    I think we all know that the "no optical drives = no games" is nothing more than happy words intended for school administrators. What it really means is "no optical drive = less weight, less cost, less battery usage"

    that said, I suspect these will not do well because of the price point. The Asus eeePC is priced at just about the right point - it certainly has all the administrators that have seen it in my district drooling over the notion of a classroom set for under $10K
  • by gfxguy (98788) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @02:19PM (#23003264)
    My problem is that by 2011, 1.6Ghz is going to be equivalent to sub-Ghz now, it's going to suck, you can already buy fully functional laptops with 1.6Ghz or better processors for less than $500... the list goes on and on.

    Overpriced piece of crap. I know, I know, it's somebody thinking of the children... god forbid they should get a fully functional laptop for less money when they can have this piece of junk.
  • Re:500 bucks? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rabryan21 (1024373) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @02:42PM (#23003596)

    With inflation that will be about $4 in 2008 dollars by 2011.

    Predicting an inflation rate of 20% a year for the next 3 years is now considered "Insightful"?
  • Re:1.6GHz? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndGodSed (968378) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @02:56PM (#23003768) Homepage Journal
    Ironic that the more expensive model will run slower than the cheaper model, will feature more restrictive licensing and the user will not be able to tweak it as much as the cheaper version...
  • by jhanderson (1200461) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @03:42PM (#23004338)

    Yeah, but children have different needs. They will etch their names in the case, drop it, routinely hold it by the lid, drop it, spill stuff on it, drop it, get that cookie-saliva goo mixture from their fingers on it, etc. For a child, a tough slow box is worth more than a fragile powerful machine.
    I know this is /. and all, but perhaps what the children need are books and good teachers instead of laptops.
  • by symbolset (646467) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @04:31PM (#23004934) Journal

    Is that it can install the OS, standard apps, open office, and a whole bunch of this free stuff [ubuntu.com] in 1/10th of the minimum required for Vista, and it still looks this good.

    Wait. No. It doesn't surprise me at all. Never mind.

  • Re:"Try Again" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:49PM (#23007784) Journal
    I've got a 6600, and yes, it did. Not as fast as on Windows, but it did, in fact, just work.

    And in the context of kids on laptops, that's really good enough. Or if it isn't, they'll all play Warcraft III with Dota mod, or they'll find something else that does work -- Quake 3 is ported and open source, and Quake 4 is ported, and in both cases, the Linux installation instructions are along the lines of "install this thing from the Internet (or with your package manager), then copy some files off the CD" -- which means all they have to do now is, copy files to iPod, then to laptop, or pirate it.

    I'm not arguing that Linux is a viable gaming platform, but rather, that if these kids have to use Linux with no optical drive, they'll make it work anyway. My little brother, who is in high school, did get Warcraft III running on his EEE PC, with no help from me. And anything which can run Vista is a lot more powerful than the EEE.

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