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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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  • The picture (Score:2, Informative)

    by jonfields ( 643711 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:24PM (#11141816)
    Did anyone else notice that it says "DVD" on it?
  • by spdt ( 828671 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:29PM (#11141863)
    I have Windows XP SP1 on an old Dell Latitude CP (Pentium MMX 133, 128 MB RAM, really heavy), and it runs alright. It hasn't driven me completely crazy yet, but then again, it's mostly just for wardriving.
  • Re:low spec? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jubei ( 89485 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:29PM (#11141870)
    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.
  • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:30PM (#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.
  • Re:sales stats? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:32PM (#11141906)
    At last count, we (Linspire), have sold 455,000 Linspire based desktop units. We expect to sell 75,000 of these laptop units by the end of this year!
  • by macaulay805 ( 823467 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:36PM (#11141937) Homepage Journal
    Where have you been shopping?
    Pricewatch is your friend! []
    Along with GotApex []
    And my cheezy webpage []

    2GHz C3 Board: $78 []
    15" Monitor: $92 []
    Complete sys - AMD Athlon 3200+ No OS 128MB 20GB CDROM Integrated VGA & Audio KB/MS: $166 []
  • by nuggetman ( 242645 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:39PM (#11141954) Homepage're kidding me right? Windows XP and 2000 can both run fine on 128 megs
  • by soundbyt ( 515293 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:39PM (#11141959)
    If you click on the See Similar [] 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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:42PM (#11141988)
    For a cheap midrange machine, I'd suggest watching for a day when there's a good coupon code for a Dell laptop posted.
  • by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:46PM (#11142013) Homepage Journal
    Windows XP might behave this way, but I've gotten 2K running happily in 128MB. No, it doesn't hit swap half as much as you are characterizing.

    I would be more concerned about KDE running happily under such a load. I'd put IceWM on there instead. And don't even think about running OpenOffice.Org...that would kill it DEAD.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:48PM (#11142028)
  • by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:49PM (#11142038)
    It's rumored that the design is based off the Pentium III, and not only does it perform quite well, it stays cool too.
    It's more than a rumor. It's a well known fact. The M series sprung from the PIII series. They are both excellent choices.
  • Re:Not awesome? (Score:5, Informative)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @07:53PM (#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)
  • by afish40 ( 774995 ) <mario AT dotmatr ... reosound DOT com> on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:05PM (#11142161) Homepage
    I think it's worth mentioning that Fry's Electronics recently had a Linspire machine that was crippled to prevent a Windows installation. As far as I could tell, they had altered the BIOS and removed essential drivers. It's possible that other pre-installed machines could be similarly configured.
  • by vagabond_gr ( 762469 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:16PM (#11142276)
    Don't worry, I'm currently writing the "Windows on a Wal-Mart Balance Notebook HOWTO".
  • Re:uk $2 = £1 (Score:2, Informative)

    by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <> on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:17PM (#11142280) Homepage
    Nevertheless, the term is correct. Mathematics = maths. It's called British English, get used to it.
  • Which C3? Nehemiah? (Score:3, Informative)

    by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:30PM (#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.
  • Re:Call me when... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:40PM (#11142472)
    They managed their finances such as not to do this. From the sounds of it, most of their bussiness from Walmart simply went to other home improvement stores, namely Ace and Home Depot.
  • Re:low spec? (Score:3, Informative)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @08:49PM (#11142538)
    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:19PM (#11142771)
    Search the on-line vendors for "trackpoint" AND keyboard AND (PS/2 or USB)
  • by jacobcaz ( 91509 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:20PM (#11142783) Homepage
    • Anyone who shops at WalMart is party to the destruction of the american middle class, the 40 hour work week, and employer paid health care.
    You just earned yourself a fan. My wife still shops at WalMart and will occasionally drag me along. The few times a year I'm in there just reminds me how much I hate WalMart.

    And don't forget, not only are they leading the destruction of the middle class, they are also responsible for generating about $1000 in annual revenue for every US citizen. They have the power to do what they want in any market segment they turn their crushing retail powers towards.

    Note I didn't say they had the power to be the best in any market segment they turn their attention towards; they just have enough resources (i.e. CASH) they can crush all the quality vendors until there is no other practical choice but WalMart.

  • Re:Dont get burned (Score:3, Informative)

    by ebooher ( 187230 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:59PM (#11143051) Homepage Journal

    No, he isn't the only one. Look here: []

    I've been in touch with a couple of other purchasers of this laptop now, and one of them agreed to break his warranty seal and investigate the ACTUAL part number etched on the CPU chip. He had the $598 model, advertised as an "Athlon XP-M 1600+". The actual OPN on his CPU is AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.

    Though, I'm not sure you can blame this one on Wal-Mart. It isn't like it is a Wal-Mart brand named computer. They are buying it, just like all their other products, from a third-party manufacturer. Now, they may have a lot of muscle to lean in on that third-party, but ultimately it's a cheap knock-off being shipped in directly from Asia vs. the quality knock-offs with things like the IBM badge on them being shipped in directly from Asia.

  • by JeremyALogan ( 622913 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:14PM (#11143162) Homepage
    I'm trying to figure out who's making these things. Search google for "Balance" and "laptop" and about all you come up with is things saying "hey... walmart has sub-$500 computers." I'm really wanting some specifics on the specs (eg. as far as I can tell the $50 more one has a parallel port, but no serial... the cheaper doesn't mention either). The "specs" listed for the cheaper one are almost ALL talking about the OS/software. It's like they're trying to convince everyone that they really are ok to use. Also, there's only one pic of it so I can't even self-diagnose.

    Ommited from your list: the $549 one has gigabit ethernet where as the other doesn't even mention ethernet.
  • by beliavsky ( 814870 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:26PM (#11143261)
    If this post is regarded as "insightful", I must say that the moderators need to learn some economics. Do you think that WalMart pays less than Goldman Sachs because the big shots at Goldman Sachs are kind and generous people? If certain WalMart employees don't earn that much, it's because no other employer is bidding more for their skills. That's what their labor is worth on the free market. WalMart is a great benefactor of the lower and middle classes, because it expands their purchasing power. If you think WalMart is mean, try starting a small business, hiring away WalMart employees at higher wages, and making a profit. THEN you have to right to bash WalMart. Talk is cheap.
  • Banking needs IE (Score:3, Informative)

    by cbr2702 ( 750255 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:41PM (#11143416) Homepage
    Or what about installing [] IE with Wine?
  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:51PM (#11143506) Homepage
    Have you checked the breakdown of the precent of malpractice insurance that goes to lawyers, against the amount the insurance companies merely pocket? People get mad at the doctors, and get mad at the lawyers (I mostly avoid dealings with both myself), but how do the insurance firms avoid anyone noticing how incredibly much money goes to them - not just for malpractice, but for medical insurance itself. If you eliminated the insurance companies from the racket, it would cut something like 30% off our medical costs.

    As for the suits against doctors, the majority of suits are against just a few doctors in any state. The states where the medical association actually disciplines doctors they get complaints against end up with much lower malpractice insurance, because there's less malpractice, because in medicine as in most professions it's about 10% of the people who make 90% of the screwups. So what malpractice insurance gives doctors is the freedom from having to discipline their own. Start yanking licenses from the idiots, and the problem goes away. But of course the insurance firms don't want the problem to go away. They make money coming (medical insurance) and going (malpractice insurance).

    It's a protection racket.
  • by Firedog ( 230345 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @12:05AM (#11144072)
    Not only that, but Walmart also contributes a lot to Republicans, who in turn are actively pursuing the destruction of the american middle class, the 40 hour work week, and employer paid health care, as you said.

    Why shop at stores that contribute to the destruction of the American way of life? Check out [] and [] and shop accordingly...
  • Re:Runs Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by lobotomy ( 26260 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @02:07AM (#11144751)
    Don't jump to conclusions. This has a Via C3. I just tried to update my server which also contains a Via C3 (low power, low heat, don't need any more horsepower). SuSE will not run on the C3 (but at least they tell you that up front). But guess what? Neither will Fedora Core 2 (yes, I even used the special C3 kernel) nor FC 3. Red Hat dropped support for the C3 but didn't even bother to document that fact. I ended up taking a Celeron processor from an old Barbi FlexATX computer.

    So, don't assume that your Linux will run on a C3. It seems that more and more distros are supporting the AMD/Intel duopoly only and are refusing to support the Via (it's not as though it isn't be made any more).

  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @03:40AM (#11145091) Homepage
    No, they are not. We have 30-40 of these we use for developer testing, servers, etc.

    They are 2-4 times faster on IDE access then any 32bit P3-4 system including Xeons. Rest of the IO is also quite good (around 2 times better then comparable P3). As a result they make very good small servers.

    CPU performance is nothing to shout about, but hardly slow. It is similar to PIII at the same speed. Possibly 10-20% slower, but not more. Actually it depends on what are you doing because they have smaller cache then PIII (only 64k).

    Thermals are phenomenal. A C3 eats 1-5W where P3 eats 70+.

    They are rumoured to be extremely sluggish for a completely unrelated reason. The early EPIA (as well as some current non-Via system) motherboards shipped with a Cyberblade on board. It has shared memory. So when a geek takes it his first reaction is to pump up the video frequency and resolution as high as the system can bare. As a result the video is accessing the memory at 150MHz pixel clock. That into a considerable portion of the memory bandwidth. In fact the slowing down between 60 and 90Hz vertical sync is clearly visible. This is no longer the case with newer motherboards which have a fairly decent 2D video with its own memory.

    Overall it depends what you use it for. If you want a silent low maintenance server or test box. It is perfect. If you want a silent typewriter/mail desktop it will do the job. If you want to play doom3 you are got to be kidding.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama