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Product Review: $100 Netbook and Cloud Computing

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So apparently a back to school special advertisement in the local newspaper has reportedly shown the existence of the fabled uber-cheap netbook. In this case the brand that is sponsoring said machine is Sylvania. After several years of dealing with upgrades, repairs, data loss and obsolete technology I have come to the conclusion that cheap, moderately reliable machinery with backed up data may be superior to the current paradigm of overinvested, quickly outdated gadgetry. Before I begin listing my reasons for said opinion, let me first tell you in my own words what a really cheap netbook and cloud computing should offer to the user:

1. A netbook should offer at minimum, USB ports, audio/mic jacks, a webcam, an SC (or any data card) slot, a solid state drive that is easily upgradeable, with the bare minimum of software needed to get one onto the internet, chat/video conference, watch/make videos, upload/edit pictures, and essentially run one’s normal day to day affairs without the use of a large internal hard drive, without a large amount of stored programs, and without a DVD/CD drive, ideally at a price much much lower then any product that has those items included.

2. A Cloud Computing environment should have all of its applications useable via a web browser interface, that does not require constant plug in or flash upgrades, that can store data, run virtual applications that are not too memory/processor intensive and that can provide the same experience regardless of where a user is or what machine they are using. Ideally a cloud computing experience would be turning on a PC, opening a browser window, and seeing your virtual desktop inside the browser, complete with apps, files, and a richer user experience at a reasonable price, with data integrity and security, and easily managed for the end user.

My opinion of a $100 netbook in being able to deliver on its promise of being both of these things is so far not met. The problem is that this machine is still trying to keep the minimum of machine based programs available (calculator, word/office, contact lists, etc) when all of these tasks could easily be done using the internet. After all, this is a netbook, a machine that is designed specifically to maximize the potential of internet experience and internet applications. Therefore, the limited HD space should be used for increasing the amount of net ready devices, plugin applications, browser upgrades and not for end user programs other then OS and browser.  Thus it would seem logical that they could shave off about $15 from the price and move that money towards nicer graphics, a more battery saving chip design, better RAM, or faster CPU acceleration when it is needed (flash, video conferencing, online games).

All in all I think this machine would be perfect for a high school student or a college student short on cash and in need of a machine to do the bare minimum report writing, research, and email until a better design comes along. If you want to take a gamble and try one out, by all means go for it, I found the experience worthwhile, but just understand that they are currently intending this type of machine to be an add-on to your tech gadgets and not as a permanent replacement of existing PC’s. I am certain that nerds like myself in the US and worldwide will tweak these and get away with a perfectly useable Linux based cloud machine that does 90% of what a normal laptop does and at 1/7th – 1/10th the price! I can see massive potential in this area and as the future rolls into the present, more and more people around the world who can not afford a $1000 laptop will certainly be willing to use a net based unit for $100, especially if their yearly salary is $8000 versus our $40,000+.


Written by Josecito

September 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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