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"World's Cheapest Laptop" Available in Bulk Only 357

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the if-it-looks-like-a-fish-and-smells-like-a-fish dept.
BobB writes to tell us that what one company is calling the "world's cheapest laptop" is now available at the price of $130. Unfortunately if you want to buy one you will also need to convince 99 of your closest friends to go in on an order with you since you cannot buy in less than units of 100. We have covered several "cheap laptops" in the past and many have turned out to be fraudulent, so especially with a large up-front cost, buyer beware. "The Impulse NPX-9000 laptop has a 7-inch screen and comes with the Linux OS. It has a 400MHz processor, 128M bytes of RAM, 1G byte of flash storage and an optional wireless networking dongle. It includes office productivity software, a Web browser and multimedia software."
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"World's Cheapest Laptop" Available in Bulk Only

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  • So group buy... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PachmanP (881352) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:39PM (#24373649)
    ...who's in?
    • Re:So group buy... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:43PM (#24373729)

      http://www.pledgebank.com/

      • Re:So group buy... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by veganboyjosh (896761) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:08PM (#24374135)
        Even closer in spirit, I think, would be www.eswarm.com. I've met one of the founders, and they've been in development for a long time, it seems. From what I understand, the whole point of e-swarming is to post something you'd like a discount on (like these cheap laptops, or even regular consumer items--blenders, ipods, car insurance, etc--and see if you can find the requisite number of people to affect a bulk buy discount.

        When I first met the guy, and heard his idea, I thought it a brilliant use of the internet, and I'm surprised it hasn't caught on before.
    • Re:So group buy... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:45PM (#24373763) Homepage
      Well,I want to see what "The Linux" OS is.

      Has some distro won the prize?

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      At $13,000 for a minimum order of 100, the NPX-9000 is not an Impulse buy.

      • by Kristoph (242780)

        It's $130 wholesale. By the time you get the thing into the US it would probably have cost you at least $150.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:40PM (#24373671)

    I'm just an anonymous coward and I don't have 99 friends.

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:40PM (#24373683) Homepage
    For the Beowulf crowd... just imagine.....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:41PM (#24373689)
    Posting this with my 600MHz laptop running KDE 3 1/2 (Kubuntu 8.04) and have never had any complaints about speed. 128MB, though ...
    • by Nullav (1053766)

      I concur. I still frequently use several machines with 800MHz P3s and have absolutely no problems, save for a few Flash-stuffed pages. Hell, I still warm my legs with a P133 almost daily.
      Also, I don't see much of a problem with the bulk requirement; one could probably make a pretty penny reselling these as cheap, throwaway boxes (in a brick-n'-mortar store, not eBay). This is clearly targeted at schools, businesses and retail outlets. It would probably be better to just pick up a used P4 notebook for ~$50 i

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOsPAm.beau.org> on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:46PM (#24373769)

    Seriously. Just click around on that website. Looks like China is about to unleash a crapload of cheap laptops. I said it back when the EEEPC refocused on the $400-$600 market, that at those prices Linux was going to get replaced with XP and I was mostly right. But I also said somebody would remember the hugh interest when Asus mentioned a $200 pricepoint and that somebody would fill it. Consider it filled.

    Most of these are very poorly thought out designs, especially today's link. Most will fail in the marketplace, only a few will even get into mass retail channels as even the morons at Best Buy can smell the fail. But all it takes is for ONE to succeed and that will probably happen. When that happens everything changes.

    • by timholman (71886) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:06PM (#24374107)

      Most of these are very poorly thought out designs, especially today's link. Most will fail in the marketplace, only a few will even get into mass retail channels as even the morons at Best Buy can smell the fail. But all it takes is for ONE to succeed and that will probably happen. When that happens everything changes.

      At around $100, a laptop becomes an impulse buy for many people. Need a disposable machine you can buy for an overseas vacation? Need something you can give the kids where you don't have to worry if it gets lost or trashed? Need a laptop you can buy from a vending machine? How about handing out free laptops that tie you into some monthly subscription service? All of these become possible at a $100 price point.

      Despite the best efforts of Microsoft, Linux is going to dominate the low end of laptop computing within three years. Microsoft will have to give away Windows in order to compete, and that ain't gonna happen. If the low-end manufacturers can standardize on a particular Linux distro/interface, the revolution will happen that much faster. Then, once everyone is used to operating these cut-rate machines, some enterprising vendors will need only package "deluxe" versions of the same Linux distro along with support for pricier laptops, and Windows will start to see some serious market erosion.

      • by Taxman415a (863020) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:09PM (#24375063) Homepage Journal
        Despite the best efforts of Microsoft, Linux is going to dominate the low end of laptop computing within three years. Microsoft will have to give away Windows in order to compete, and that ain't gonna happen.

        They already nearly give Windows away in developing countries in order to try to sustain their market dominance in the face of competition from Linux. And they admit that piracy isn't a problem because it gets developing countries hooked on their products. Why wouldn't they give Windows away to keep from losing this market as well? They can see the writing on the wall as well as we can that this is a great opportunity for Linux to break out and will pretty much do anything to stop that.
        • by timholman (71886) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:05PM (#24376019)

          They already nearly give Windows away in developing countries in order to try to sustain their market dominance in the face of competition from Linux. And they admit that piracy isn't a problem because it gets developing countries hooked on their products. Why wouldn't they give Windows away to keep from losing this market as well? They can see the writing on the wall as well as we can that this is a great opportunity for Linux to break out and will pretty much do anything to stop that.

          Yes, but these ultra-cheap laptops are going to make a huge impact in first-world countries, not just in the developing world. Sure, Microsoft may practically give away Windows to an African customer, but not to customers in Europe or North America. People in the U.S. alone will buy millions of these laptops, and Microsoft cannot maintain first-world profit margins with third-world pricing. Who is going to pay for a $200, or even $50, for an operating system on a $100 computer?

          Microsoft can't win this battle in developed countries, because the price of the hardware puts a ceiling on the price they can charge on their software. Either Windows drops to $10 a license, or Microsoft concedes the low end of the market to Linux. And once that happens, Linux will start eating its way up the price-point ladder.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      How about this: If we were to buy 100 Asus eeePCs, we could probably get a good price, and we know those are powerful enough to be useful.

      Would you rather spend $250 on something you can actually do work on or $130 on something that won't be of any use?

      I mean, if you're gonna talk about buying 100 units, you can probably get a sweet price. Costco does it all the time.

    • I believe you're right; and further, I think this will seriously endanger the One Laptop Per Child project. They were way out in front, and maintain a slight advantage thanks to some of their tech (screen, wifi, battery life, ruggedness) -- but it just takes one manufacturer to not be braindead to fill the market for low-power, high-portable, low-price, high-performance laptops.

      Of course, it's possible that the best thing to fulfill OLPC's goal is for this exact thing to happen.

  • AND a dodgy offer.

    It's all hype and no substance.

  • by wfberg (24378) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:49PM (#24373815)

    As this liliputing article points out [liliputing.com], this is a rebrand of a common product (razorbook, elonex one, etc.).
    The linux distribution is, well, unknown, and the specs are less than impressive; basically it's a MIPS32 CPU, PDA rather than laptop range. Liliputing also has a $99 laptop on their homepage right now, with even less impressive specs.

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#24374361) Journal

      basically it's a MIPS32 CPU, PDA rather than laptop range.

      Really? It depends on which MIPS core they use. The R16000 is a very fine core. Look at these results: http://www.tabsnet.com/index.php?option=com_benchmark&task=list&bid=1&sysid=1 [tabsnet.com]

      It performs very well clock for clock compared to x86 processors. Of corse, that is a 64 bit core. It's the clever bits (out of order, branch prediction, etc) which make it go fast, not the 64 bittiness.

      So, in other words, don't knock MIPS.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by the_humeister (922869)
        You should look at the chart more carefully. That MIPS chip is situated between 2 Athlon Thunderbirds, which are 32-bit machines on an integer-based benchmark. I'd like to see an FPU-based benchmark. Plus those Athlon cpus were a lot less expensive than the MIPS 16000 cpus used by SGI.
      • Well the same thing as a prototype for a different branding. It is not a MIPS chip. It is an Xburst which is a Chinese clone of the MIPS instruction set. It does not have a floating point unit and there is a recompiled toolchain that does not use the FPU, and this has been used to compile Linux for the MIPSel (little endian) architecture. Flash support is weird. There is no plugin for the browser, but there is a standalone application that can play a downloaded .swf file. The operating system is quite locke

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:53PM (#24373885) Homepage Journal
    Couldn't you get a used laptop that beats those specs for $130? Granted, you would almost certainly need to buy a new battery for said used laptop, but nonetheless I don't see the advantage of this system.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Also, for about $550, you could get a new laptop [walmart.com], with dual core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 120 GB HD, wireless networking, and a DVD writer. Costs 4 times as much, but it's easily 4 times as useful. It's like saying you could get a Vespa for $5000. Yes, you could, but that only makes sense if you don't have to buy another car. In the same way, this computer is only cheap if you don't plan on having another computer to make up for its lack of features.
  • I bought the 701 eee PC, so I'm about full on 7" laptops with mediocre resolution. The next one I buy will either be a slight bit larger vertically or have better resolution. If I hadn't already got the 701, I'd be sorely tempted by the 901 or 1000, especially with their supposed 6+ hours battery life.

    I got the large battery for the 701 and it almost lasts 4 hours if I'm just reading with the backlight turned down. If I could buy a spare 6 cell battery or an even larger capacity battery, I'd be mostly ha

  • Will it run Flash? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fohat (168135) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:59PM (#24374003) Homepage
    I was just looking at the minimum specs for running Flash version 9 http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/productinfo/systemreqs/ [adobe.com] which apparently needs a P2-450 to run. I'm curious if this 400 MHz CPU would be fast enough for smooth playability? Lack of Flash support would eliminate a good chunk of uses for this thing.
    • by Sockatume (732728)
      I had a 1.1GHz Celeron laptop which absolutely choked on Youtube, and most Newgrounds videos for that matter.
    • According to the linked pages, it has some kind of flash player, probably gnash or something, which won't be really sufficient capability wise. It'd be fast enough to watch flv's downloaded from youtube.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grahamdrew (589499)
      No. Forget speed for a second, it's a MIPS processor. Does not run x86 applications, does not run x86 plugins. Maybe you get get it to run one of the GPL flash interpreters, but it'll never run the Adobe flash plugin until Adobe makes on specifically for Linux running on a MIPS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hee gozer (1261036)

        it'll never run the Adobe flash plugin until Adobe makes on specifically for Linux running on a MIPS.

        They did. At least, some time ago they did just that. You can even see an icon for it if you look closely at the picture in TFA.

        One catch though, it's only version 6 (and AFAICT, standalone-only).

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      You have exactly zero chance of running Flash on this laptop, since it's a MIPS machine. Gnash FTW.

      By the way, it could be a very useful portability testing machine. You don't have to fumble with cross-compilers and other assorted crap, you just check out your svn and test it on this laptop. If your code runs both on x86 and MIPS you can be pretty sure that it's reasonably portable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I doubt it. It depends on the Flash animation you want to view, of course, but YouTube videos don't even play anything close to smoothly on my 500MHz iBook.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Well, MIPS might beat PowerPC, but regardless...

        It's MIPS. It very likely won't run a modern Flash. Best you'll get is Flash 6, according to another poster.

        However, put Gnash on there, and if Gnash can actually play video, it'll be much faster. I've tested -- windowed Flash uses over 50% of a 2.4 ghz AMD X2. (That's 50% of one core, so not as bad as it sounds -- still, 1.2 ghz.) Fullscreen doesn't play smoothly at all, now that it's actually supported.

        Download the same video, play it in mplayer or VLC, and

  • a little problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday July 28, 2008 @03:59PM (#24374013)
    I just got a P3 laptop for free at a rummage sale cuz the hard drive was broken (but I had a spare one). This model goes for far under $100 on ebay so let's compare. 400MHz processor vs 850 MHz processor. 128 vs 128 of ram. 1GB of storage compared to 20GB. 7 inch screen vs 14. And a who knows but probably less AH batter vs a 2.2AH battery (you can order a 4-6+ AH one on ebay for it though). Oh and mine came with ME on it so I reinstalled that and it boots from off in about 15 seconds and shuts down in just under 5 seconds. Yep, mine's faster. This trend of ultra cheap but slower than hell laptops is a joke. If you want some cheap, slow piece of crap that can surf the web and type documents, just buy a used laptop on ebay for even cheaper.
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:10PM (#24374165) Journal

      I was with you right up until you re-installed ME. Turn in your geek card. Now.

      • by Blimey85 (609949)
        I was thinking the same thing. I'm not a Windows hater but ME? Are you freakin kidding us?!!?!?
      • Ubunutu wouldn't install. It needs 256 minimum. For some reason this laptop won't accept even low density PC133. I can't figure out WTF is wrong but it correctly reports the size but also reports every single bit as unreadable in a ram test with any new sticks I put in and it's not over the max ram limit. Anyway, would you rather I put XP on it? I mean yeah the computer took 2 hours of bullshit just to install a functional USB mouse drive and it froze up twice but I hear you get that exact same crap wit
    • by fm6 (162816) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:24PM (#24374391) Homepage Journal

      If you want some cheap, slow piece of crap that can surf the web and type documents, just buy a used laptop on ebay for even cheaper.

      Sure, if you can live with zero tech support and have the technical skill to deal with all the hardware and software issues.

      Why is it that Slashdotters can't grasp that most people are not techies? They cannot do stuff like resolve subtle system conflicts or install news OS.

      My niece wanted a new computer, and didn't have much money. I found her an old XP system (actually pretty powerful) on Craigslist for $50. Except to keep it working, I have to answer a support call from her every few weeks. A few weeks ago, the mechanical mouse she had stopped working. I told her to go buy an optical mouse. She did, but then last week she accidentally unplugged it from the PS2 port while the system was live. I told her to disconnect the PS2 adapter and plug it into a USB port. Didn't work, and I wasn't up to figuring out why over the phone. So I had her reboot, which meant explaining how to do that from the keyboard. Which fixed the problem — until next time. I don't mind giving her all this tech support for free, but most people don't have access to somebody like me.

      These are all problems you or I could solve faster than it takes to describe them. But most people can't. That's why a simple, Linux-based, preconfigured laptop without a lot of features that most people don't need is a good deal, even if it's more expensive than a more powerful used machine.

    • I think enough people prefer new that the ebay argument won't actually hold much merit for the intended market.

      Not that I don't agree that the features seem lacking, but I really see the market companies are aiming these things at as a latent market that will continue to wait for the right combination of both features and price. It'll happen, it just might not happen today.
  • What's the point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wumpus188 (657540) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:00PM (#24374023)
    I do not understand this obsession with cheap crap on Slashdot recently... This $130 "laptop" is a fine example. Seriously, I'm lost... why would anyone consider buying such thing?
    • I do not understand this obsession with cheap crap on Slashdot recently... This $130 "laptop" is a fine example. Seriously, I'm lost... why would anyone consider buying such thing?

      I've been wondering the same thing about Walmart and its customers for a long time...

    • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:37PM (#24374615) Journal

      To replace $300 temperature controllers from the 1980's, used on kilns and heat treatment furnaces all over the world?
      To replace $400 data acquisition systems from the 1970's, used on process control systems all over the world?
      At this price you can begin replacing industrial modems, tearing out ancient proprietary CNC controller systems on mills and lathes, retrofit large solar panel charge controller systems with these.
      There are industries all over the non-first-world that can't afford industrial-quality control systems. These sorts of crummy little computers have 100x the performance and flexibility of old ladder-logic programmable logic controllers, and could be turned into amazingly useful, easily-updated or replaced, manufacturing control systems.

  • Just go to eBay, and buy a much older generation ultralight laptop, the kind that used to cost $2,000. You will pretty readily find one with better specs than that for quite cheap, possibly under $100. Replace the hard drive with a flash card. Using a adapter you can get for just a few bucks, also on eBay, you can plug a compact flash card into a 2.5" IDE drive cable as found on the laptop.

    Ok, you need a distro that will distribute writes on the flash card, but I bet you can work it out.

    In fact, I hav

  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:11PM (#24374169) Homepage Journal

    http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/206720976/7_mini_laptop.html [alibaba.com]

    $90-$180 FOB Shanghai, QTY 500. Runs Linux or Windows CE.

    Looks like they have variants of this from 7" to 12.1", which is why the range of prices.

  • by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:18PM (#24374283) Journal
    You pay $130 and when you get ten of your friends to pay $130 they send you a laptop. It's called a pyramid scheme.

    End Sarcasm
  • Possible use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jbeaupre (752124) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:23PM (#24374367)

    If my wife could buy a class set of 30 (maybe a few extras), she'd be more than happy to have these for her 6th grade students. A couple of candy bar sales would do it. All they need them for is simple research on the web and basic word processing. Anything else (audio, able to show video, etc) is great, but not needed. And at $130, when one is lost (and technology in student hands always dies or gets stolen), she won't have to call in the national guard.

    Crappy machines? Yes! Almost a plus in this case. So they fit a need. My guess is she's no the only with the need.

    • by Arimus (198136)

      Aren't these the exact same spec as the XO laptop? And so... are designed for the needs you are talking about ;)

  • If you have some time, and some money to invest... Say $13,000. You could buy them, sell them on ebay or Amazon for $185 a piece and make a cool $5,000 for yourself.

  • I'd prefer... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drasil (580067) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:27PM (#24374445)
    I know it's a little more expensive, but I'm holding out for one of these [openpandora.org].
  • Does nobody here understand how commerce works? These are wholesale lots. (As are all the things sold on Alibaba.) This is not a $130 laptop. $250 is probably a better guess at the retail price.

  • by hee gozer (1261036) on Monday July 28, 2008 @04:42PM (#24374701)

    Actually you can buy the same ones from Bestlink [bestlinkeshop.com]. They give bulk discounts too, but you don't have to buy in bulk from them.

    The manufacturer of these notebooks keeps slapping on different labels, but they're all pretty much the same, except for some minor aesthetic and firmware differences.

    I've compared one of them (from yet another reseller, with yet another unknown brand slapped on the back) to my EeePC 701 and here's what I found:

    Pros:
      - Cheaper then the Eee
      - Smaller and lighter, even when compared with the 701
      - Screen is very bright, even with the Eee at its brightest, the el cheapo is still brighter, see picture [imageshack.us])

    Cons:
      - No onboard wlan although it comes with a usb wlan device
      - 400MHz mipsel as opposed to a 600 or 900MHz IA32 CPU in the Eee's
      - No frozen bubble (???)

  • This is a 400 MHz MIPS + 128MB of memory. The PSP is a 333 MHz MIPS + 64MB of memory (Slim variant) + GPU. If the laptop's GPU can handle it, someone needs to reverse-engineer PSP games to run on this (preferably via a Wine-style compatibility layer) and those laptops are an instant sell. It wouldn't be legal, but this would immensely boost value nonetheless, and the Chinese are not exactly known for always abiding with the copyright law.

    Another question is the battery life. The PSP has similar specs and it

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