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Walmart Offers Sub-$500 laptop With Linspire 589

LehiNephi writes "Cnet reports that Walmart is offering a sub-$500 notebook running Linspire. The specs are less-than impressive: a 1GHz VIA C3 processor, 128 MB RAM, 30GB hard drive, and a plain vanilla CD-ROM. Seems overpriced for what you get, but cheap nonetheless. And yes, it does run Linux."
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Walmart Offers Sub-$500 laptop With Linspire

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  • by airrage ( 514164 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:17PM (#11141750) Homepage Journal
    ... you must be unfamiliar with Wal-Mart.
    • Sorry to sound like a wet blanket, but there have been past stories about how walmart pressurizes it's suppliers to lower costs to the point of even bankrupting them. So, what I'm wondering is, who is it this time? Sure, it's great to have a laptop for less than $500, but hey, is some poor guy suffering to provide this pricing? or not? Anyone?
  • Runs Linux (Score:5, Funny)

    by Vampyre_Dark ( 630787 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:17PM (#11141751)
    It DOES run linux?
    Well, I think this is the reason there are no posts. ^_^
  • by The UberDork ( 689979 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:18PM (#11141757) Homepage
    So, is this kinda thing gonna shoot us in the foot, and make Linux mean cheap in the public eye? And I mean cheap, NOT inexpensive.
  • by x.Draino.x ( 693782 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:18PM (#11141759)
    But can it run Windows?
  • Not bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxchaote ( 796339 )
    Not a bad value for those of us who do low-intensity work like back-end web development and don't have huge libraries of MP3s.
    • Re:Not bad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rainman_bc ( 735332 )
      Hmmm, don't know about you, but as a web developer, sometimes I'm called upon to do some photoshop work - hardly waht I'd call low-intensity...
  • by JDRipper ( 610930 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:18PM (#11141763)
    "and a plain vanilla CD-ROM" Wow! Both plain AND vanilla! Walmart to the T!
    • Specifications are equally ambiguous:

      14.1" LCD panel: I would assume it's a TFT, as every laptop I've seen manufactured in the past few years has had one, but at this price point, that's questionable. Might it use dual-scan technology instead?

      4 cell battery: Four cells is low as it is, especially if it's not a lithium-ion battery.

      I'd like to believe they cut corners only on the memory and on the processor, but at such a low price I'm wondering what else they had to leave out (not to mention the dubious

    • I really object to the use of the phrase "plain vanilla". Vanilla is very tasty, and is not at all plain. If you doubt it, try making some homemade ice cream without vanilla some time.

      Eddys (known in other markets as Dreyers) used to offer a double vanilla ice cream. Yum!

  • ...yada yada yada!
  • by wcitechnologies ( 836709 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:21PM (#11141788)
    I wonder if they include a disclamer for Linspire... a big red "DOES NOT INCLUDE MICROSOFT WINDOWS XP" on the box somewhere.

    I'd almost wager that 80% of the people who buy these (or who buy a computer from WalMart in general) are n00bs, and will try returning the devices because 'there's no microsoft word or internet explorer on it'.

  • I really seem to have a thing against having linux on a machine, but then I need to go download each part that should be on the distribution CDs.

    Sorry Linspire, but I am UNinspired by your install model.

  • Call me when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jacobcaz ( 91509 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:22PM (#11141805) Homepage
    ...I can pick up a dozen laptops for under $500 along with my gallon of pickles [fastcompany.com] for $2.97.

    Seriously, I feel bad for whoever is putting these together for WalMart. They just got a hugenormous client (WalMart) who will be both the best and worst thing that ever happened to them.

    Where I work we split our time between trying to provide excellent service to our non-WalMart customers while keeping WalMart happy because they account for such a huge chunk of our revenue it's not even funny. And that's pretty normal for any company WalMart does business with.

    • Re:Call me when... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The company I work for, Linspire, is putting these together for Walmart. We are essentially taking over the desktop linux market. Don't feel sorry for us. We know what we are doing and the profits have been huge.
      • How ironic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by poptones ( 653660 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:44PM (#11142497) Journal
        Because when I first saw the price and specs on the thing the first notion that popped into my head was trying one of them and putting ubuntu on it.

        Then I saw the other machine that has an "Athlon 4" CPU in it (whatever that is) for fifty bucks more and comes with built-in wireless networking. "Oh boy," I thought, and headed over there to check that one out. And of course, the one that has wireless networking comes with XP.

        Gonna be real easy "taking over the desktop market" when you can't even get installed in a machine with wireless networking support...

  • Seems to be a stark contrast to what WalMart can really do. They buy in such great volumes, you'd think they could negotiate a price/feautre point that would make it more appealing to the masses. Guess they are just testing the (ingorance of) the waters...
  • low spec? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rkww ( 675767 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:23PM (#11141807)
    This has a faster processor, bigger disk and more RAM than a standard PC from three years ago; what applications have turned up since then that require more than this?
    • Re:low spec? (Score:2, Informative)

      by jubei ( 89485 )
      A 1Ghz C3 is probably equivalent to a PII-450, which is starting to get a bit old.

      That being said, I wouldn't mind one, as long as the ram is upgradable.
    • They wanted a 3-d card inside and DVD-RW... Considering laptops are built as 'throw away' technology anyways, The $500 isn't too bad a deal as long as the drives can be swapped out. Unless you have the cash and connections to get Millitary ruggedness certified equipment anyways -- I say connections because we're in a war, and they're all on backorder everywhere I've looked.
      People wait 8 hours outside a stinking retail store to get a $500 laptop on day after sales, only to find out the employees beat you t
    • I generally agree with you, but 3 years ago (late 2001) a standart pc was a athlon 1.2, 256MB pc133 ram and a 60GB hd.
      Time flys by faster than you think...
    • Re:low spec? (Score:3, Informative)

      by zakezuke ( 229119 )
      This has a faster processor, bigger disk and more RAM than a standard PC from three years ago; what applications have turned up since then that require more than this?

      Windows Media Player?

      This is not ment as a flame, but I question whether this laptop would be adquate to play anything above and beyond mpeg-2. From my understanding the 1GHz VIA C3 peforms much like a medium speed pentium III and I found that a pentium III 766 was barely adquate for some divx-4 and xvid encodes.
  • The picture (Score:2, Informative)

    by jonfields ( 643711 )
    Did anyone else notice that it says "DVD" on it?
  • imagine a beowolf cluster of these
  • Not too shabby. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ssand ( 702570 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:24PM (#11141824)
    Keep in mind this is a notebook, and not a desktop. One for that price really isn't too bad, and would be excellent for someone doing basic computer usage. The biggest issue I see is that it is not windows. That's no big deal, however it can be for those who are not tech savy. With the draconian return policies of software, I can see unsavy users buying software thinking it will run, and finding out they can't.
  • Not awesome? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StevenMaurer ( 115071 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:24PM (#11141825) Homepage
    I don't know about the author, but I remember the days when twin pentium 90's and 128 Megs of RAM were considered awesome....

    That was about 10 years ago.

    Sure, this thing isn't going to be a screaming game machine, but honestly, how much horsepower do you need for text editing, email, and some casual browsing, anyway?
    • Even more to the point, what's the battery life on a VIA C3 going to be like compared to a P4? For anything I do with a laptop, this would actually be far superior to its more power-hungry brethren.

      Its specs mention a 1.5 hour battery lifetime. How's that compare to other recent laptops?

      • Its specs mention a 1.5 hour battery lifetime. How's that compare to other recent laptops?

        Pretty bad.
      • Re:Not awesome? (Score:5, Informative)

        by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:53PM (#11142076) Homepage Journal
        1.5 hours is embarrassing. A VIA C3 1Ghz is about 12W. A Pentium M mobile is about 14W. And a P4 is perhaps 50W.

        This laptop has the right cpu for long battery life. I suspect it has useless batteries in it. And does not have that many power friendly peripherals.

        Apple 1GHz G4 laptop gets about 4.5 hours on a charge. But they have an 8 cell(i think) li-ion pack. As if the number of cells means anything. (Did Walmart print the mAh of their battery pack?). For twice the price you get 10x the laptop.

        P4 laptops go about 2.5 hours on their batteries, typically. (intel's speedstep power management helps dramatically). And Pentium M laptops go 5-6 hours on a charge.

        Really you can pay $200 more for a laptop that goes three times as fast and lasts twice as long. Or pay double and get something that lasts 4 times as long. I really don't see any advantage to buying this laptop. A used celeron laptop would probably be a better deal if you absolutely can't spend more than $500 on a laptop. (my NiMH 600mhz celeron laptop gets about 2.5 hours on a charge, but only after I replaced the NiMH pack with a fresh one)
        • Re:Not awesome? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 74nova ( 737399 ) <jonnbell.gmail@com> on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:23PM (#11142806) Homepage Journal
          Really you can pay $200 more for a laptop that goes three times as fast and lasts twice as long. Or pay double and get something that lasts 4 times as long. I really don't see any advantage to buying this laptop. A used celeron laptop would probably be a better deal if you absolutely can't spend more than $500 on a laptop
          you point is valid. however, i dont have $1300 for a good laptop. if all i needed was a mobile machine to do day to day stuff with, this would definitely do it for me. everybody knows that to a point, you get more for paying more. buy a 24pk of coke and its $.02/oz cheaper than the 12pks. hell, if you told dell you wanted 100 of those laptops you suggest, youd probably get them even cheaper! oh right, you probably dont have $120,000.

          its all a matter of perspective. to some people that want/need a laptop but dont need a lot of power, cheaper is always better. also, i think there is something about $500 for a laptop. people see that to get a dell desktop is about $500, but to get a walmart laptop ('hey, walmart is a well-known brand' they think to themselves) is now the same price. okay, maybe you need the $550 model to get windows to make that a little more fair. my point is that $500 for a laptop is mad cheap, regardless of the quality. that amount of money has not gotten you a laptop new for some time(if ever). the battery life is terrible, however, ill give you that.

          well, crap. i typed all that and just now saw your recommendation for a used celeron. that is a viable solution, theres a 1ghz dell on ebay for $400 right now.
    • Ah, the days of yore, when a P-90 was respectable. Of course my current laptop is a toshiba tecra with a P-120, 78MB ram, 1.2GB hard drive, and a 6x cdrom. Running slackware. Most things still run fine, you just don't want to run bloatware like Firefox ("links -g" works like a charm).
  • hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lordkuri ( 514498 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:25PM (#11141827)
    Damn Small Linux, blackbox, and bluetooth, and I think I just found my next remote webserver admin tool. I can't justify $2k for a machine, but less than $600 (tax, etc) might make it really feasable.
  • Does anyone know how well these linux pc's at walmart are selling? Anyway to find out? I'd be extremely interested to know what if any actual numbers of grandma's at walmart have been sold a linux pc.
  • by incom ( 570967 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:25PM (#11141830)
    What I'm looking for is a cheap as possible laptop that has an nvidia video chipset, and no windows tax. I want to atleast be able to play UT2k4 on it.
  • If you price out a 1GHz C3 board ($185) and a 14" monitor ($250) you are quickly topping out near $450. Considering that you get a finished system, it's a pretty decent price.

    If this thing runs PXE boot it would make a great LTSP terminal after you remove the hard drive.

  • I have yet to see a half way low priced linux laptop with a built in wireless adapter when these days all of the lowest budget Windows laptops have them.
  • Overpriced? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:29PM (#11141865)
    a 1GHz VIA C3 processor, 128 MB RAM, 30GB hard drive, and a plain vanilla CD-ROM. Seems overpriced for what you get, but cheap nonetheless.

    I can't speak for the US market, but up here in Canada the cheapest new laptop runs you about $1,000, which is about $800 USD. Granted, this is with a 2+ ghz cpu, 256 MB RAM, 20-30GB drive and a dvd-rom.

    However, to pay anything less than this requires checking out the used laptop market. Here we see such gems as a P3-700, 64-96MB RAM, 8-10GB drive selling for $5-600 all the time. Say about $4-500 USD.

    I don't know about you folks, but this looks like a pretty nice deal for those folks who aren't planning on running Doom3 on their laptops. The ram's a bit scanty for any modern OS, but otherwise this is a perfectly good machine to do 99% of what people do with a laptop.
  • It runs Linspire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dteichman2 ( 841599 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:29PM (#11141868) Homepage
    The problem with Linspire (Lindows) is that it isn't quite Linux (yes, I know it really is Linux) and it isn't quite Windows. So, end-users might find it difficult. Even a pro seemed to think it was hard to use.

    Can a Red Hat Guru Survive on a Lindows Laptop? [linuxjournal.com]
  • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @06:30PM (#11141875)
    [I posted this elsewhere, but it's relevant here too.]

    This is a bad choice. I have a C3 933Mhz processor. It performs roughly equivalent to a 300Mhz PIII. Not only this, but it is extremely hot. The C3 was supposed to be cool, but this is one of the hottest laptops I've used. I haven't objectively measured it with a thermistor yet, but the external temp seems about 55 C to 60 C. If I put the laptop on my bare chest it leaves red marks. It may be because the laptop is so thin, or maybe the HSF construction is shoddy.

    The PIII/M is cool, and embarrasses the C3 in terms of performance. This is partly due to C3 being a bad processor, but also largely due to PIII/M being a good processor. In fact, if I was getting an x86 notebook, I wouldn't accept anything except a PIII. I've personally experienced Athlon notebooks, P4 notebooks, and VIA notebooks, and can tell that they are all inferior. I can't speak to Transmeta or Apple branded notebooks.

    If this C3 notebook is at all appealing to you, my advice is to get an old PIII off ebay or reburbished from one of many dealers. You'll pay the same price and get a much higher performing, cooler laptop.
  • Are not exactly good for high-performance computing, but they probably do great for basic computer usage (im not even talking about pseudo-power users who use office/etc)... we're talking browsing and email.

    Curiously enough, this might make a great home server... think about it

    • runs linux... check
    • lowpower processor you can keep on all the time... check
    • Monitor and keyboard for when you need console access... check

    Agruably a bit expensive, but you can probably plug in your FW or USB2 drive as a cheap NAS...

  • For those whose 1st langauge is English, what does "sub-" mean in general? If this PC were to be offered at US$495, would it still be called a sub-$500 laptop? Where does it end?
  • I don't think the sepcifications are too bad at all. Most people don't do very high end stuff on their computers. There are millions of students worldwide that would be satisfied with something that surfs the web, runs word processors and basic graphics programs, does email, and runs some simple games.

    I could do all that on my 386 with DOS; so you sure as hell can do all that with a system at these specs.
  • If you click on the See Similar [walmart.com] link, there is another laptop by the same manufacturer with better hardware that includes XP Home. I bet it will even run Lindo^H^HSpire. Nothing that groundbreaking.

    1.1 GHz Mobile AMD Athlon 4 processor

    14.1" XGA TFT LCD screen

    40 GB hard drive

    128 MB RAM

    DVD-ROM drive

    Integrated 802.11b wireless networking

  • Which C3? Nehemiah? (Score:3, Informative)

    by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:30PM (#11142387) Homepage
    Which version of the C3 does this notebook use?

    Notebooks based the C3 come in two flavors: Ezra and Nehemiah. The Nehemiah at 1 GHz is almost twice as fast as the Ezra at 1 GHz.

    The tip-off would be the chipset, if it was known. The Nehemiah is almost always used with the CLE266 chipset with a 266 MHz FSB.

What hath Bob wrought?