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The $299 Walmart laptop

Saturday, August 15, 2009 by Dave Winer.

A picture named craptop.gifThe tech industry keeps wanting to think that netbooks are a mistake, but they are not.  Permalink to this paragraph

Here's a CNET article about a $299 laptop being sold by Walmart and BestBuy. They're cheap, big and run Vista. Permalink to this paragraph

I'll go over the specs in a minute, but first a story. Permalink to this paragraph

I just took a trip to New York with my new 13.3-inch MacBook Pro, which is a lovely computer. But the next trip I took, a two-day trip up north, I brought my Asus 10-inch and was much happier because: 1. Much longer battery life. 2. A lot lighter and smaller.  Permalink to this paragraph

The Mac doesn't even have a replaceable battery. The Asus does. When I travel with it I bring an extra 6-cell, and it's still much lighter than the Mac, and it goes for 12 hours without plugging in. That's a huge important difference.  Permalink to this paragraph

And the smaller size meant I could make the trip with just one bag instead of two.  Permalink to this paragraph

People who think there is no reason to get a netbook simply don't have one, I conclude. That's fine for ordinary people, but if you make your living as a tech analyst, that's just plain irresponsible. Permalink to this paragraph

Now to the specs. Permalink to this paragraph

2.2GHz Intel Celeron processor 900, 2GB of memory, DVD-RW/CD-RW drive, 15.4-inch screen, 160GB Serial ATA hard drive (5400 rpm), 802.11b/g wireless, 10/100 Ethernet LAN, Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD, and Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic Edition operating system.  Permalink to this paragraph

It's all good till you get to the wireless. I like 802.11n. Much faster. And the OS -- sorry -- I don't do Vista. I have a funny feeling that Microsoft is behind all of this. For some reason they can't handle the idea that people still want their 10-year-old OS. All the R&D that went into Vista, well that's Microsoft's problem, not the users'. Permalink to this paragraph

They don't say how much it weighs or how long the battery lasts. Heh. I bet it weighs a lot, and I bet the battery doesn't last very long. Is the battery removable? Permalink to this paragraph

In any case, I'm not surprised the $299 "craptop" sells. But -- I'd also be surprised if they do anything to slow down sales of netbooks. They're in a different class. And it's valid. Get used to it, netbooks here to stay folks. And the big, heavy, Vista class? Well they're probably here to stay too. (And I still love my Macs, and wish they'd make one that was really in the netbook class.) Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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