Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Switched On: Alpha 400 pays a high price for low cost

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2008/12/22/switched-on-alpha-400-pays-a-high-price-for-low-cost/

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

When a recent fake news story claiming that Coby Electronics would enter the netbook market with a $100 PC included a quote I had given two years ago, I smelled something fishy. But before I questioned the validity of the article, I questioned the validity of such a product. Because for at least those expecting some semblance of a modern PC, the fascination with a $100 notebook might turn to disappointment when they realize the considerable compromises needed to achieve that alluring price.

For as life quickly moved to imitate art, the aftermath of Cobygate saw news of the Alpha 400, which is smaller, lighter and, at $170 at Geeks.com, about $100 less than online pricing for the Eee PC 2G Surf. With no hard drive and no fan, it runs so coolly and quietly the only noise the product makes is when you open and close its creaky hinge, which allows the screen to lay flat parallel to the keyboard. Its brand-free top surface is glossy black, but the rest of its plastic body has a finish so dull that the product could pass for one of those plastic laptop props used in furniture stores.

Like the original Eee, the Alpha 400 has a 7-inch screen, an SD card slot, three USB ports, and a keyboard (albeit one that is even smaller than the one on the first Eee). From there, almost all the specs take a dramatic step down. The Alpha 400 has only 128MB of RAM and 1GB of local storage. It has no webcam and supports only 802.11b although it connected consistently to my home network, something that has not been true of some other Linux-based ! netbooks . With the Alpha 400's extremely limited driver support, very few USB peripherals will work with the device. Some USB flash drives, for example, would not mount and USB audio is not supported.

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Switched On: Alpha 400 pays a high price for low cost originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 22 Dec 2008 20:20:00 EST. Please see ou! r terms for use of feeds.

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