November's New, Low-Priced Computers: Breaking the $200 Barrier

As expected, November is bringing with it a slew of offerings among alternative computers. This week, Everex’s new gPCs are going on sale at select Wal-Mart stores. They’re full-blown desktop computers capable of most popular applications, and they come with keyboards, mice and speakers for—get this–$198.

How can Everex come in at that price point, which is $100 cheaper than the $299 Asus is going to be charing for its low-end Eee PC (which I wrote about recently)? The gPCs are based on Ubuntu Linux and run an operating system called gOS. These systems are among three significant Linux-based computer offerings slated for November ship dates where the price points are far lower than Windows- or Mac-based alternatives.

Everex’s gPCs come standard with 1.5-GHz VIA C7 D processors, 512MB of RAM, 80-GB hard disks, DVD drives and Ethernet connections. The gOS that ships with them features a slew of applications and offerings from Google, including Google Docs and Spreadsheet, Blogger, Google Product Search, Google Maps, Gimp (image editing), OpenOffice 2.2 for desktop productivity applications, music software, and more. You also get free support.

You do need to have a monitor if you go for a gPC, but consider the fact that Asus’ Eee PCs (see the link above, and image below) are miniature laptops, can run most popular applications, and even come with built-in Wi-Fi, with a low-end model to be available for $299. Here again, the operating system is Xandros Linux, the central applications are OpenOffice, and the low price comes from embracing open-source software. These are also due in November, just in time for the holidays.

There is also much hubbub surrounding Nokia’s n810 Internet Tablet, which is more expensive at $479, but has a nice slide-out keyboard that could be attractive to many people who want a computer capable of most popular applications that they can put in their pocket. It too, is Linux-based, and ships in November.

Have we reached the point where the long-standing criticism of open-source software—that the applications aren’t plentiful and rich enough—could get a serious challenge? This month, we will see that proposition challenged in desktop, sub-notebook, and pocket computer form factors. These low-priced systems will stand or fall based on acceptance or rejection of the open-source software that they primarily run. Watch closely.

Do you have any predictions about whether all or some of these form factors might catch on?


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