Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Subnotebooks under $350

Last year I predicted a "normal" personal computer would reach a tipping point in early 2008, with $US500 low power computers. We are not quite there yet, but units like the $US350 Eee Box desktop PC should be the norm by the end of 2008.

The popularity of the original ASUS Eee PC subnotebook forced competitors to bring out their own models and now the prices are dropping. The Aspire netbook, is down from $US399 to $US349 for the Windows XP model and from $US379 to $US329 for the Linux model.

The "Eee Box", desktop version of ASUS's Eee PC is now on sale for $US350 and getting good reviews for performance and power saving (see test and video demo). If this has the same effect on desktop computer prices the Eee PC had on subnotebooks, then we can expect usable desktops (minus the screen) for around $US300 by the end of the year. The Box has Microsoft Windows XP Home, an Intel Atom N270 (1.6 GHz) CPU, 1 GB RAM and a 80 GB Hard Disk and uses 22.3 Watts.

The typical computer bought for home or business in 2007 had a DVD drive, multi-hundred gigabyte hard disk, Microsoft Windows Vista and multi-hundred Watt power supply and cost around $1,000.

By the end of 2008 the idea that you might spend thousands of dollars on a computer will be considered more than just odd. If energy awareness campaigns work, then to buy a computer which consumes hundreds of Watts of power will be considered anti-social (if not actually illegal).

ASUS initially brought out the Eee PC with Linux and only flash memory, with no hard disk. But competitors brought out subnotebooks with small disk drives and Windows XP. It looks like most people will not give up their disk drives by the end of the year, nor Microsoft Windows. HP brought out their subnotebook with Windows Vista, but other vendors have stuck with Windows XP. Microsoft will probably bring out some sort of Vista Lite in response.

The cheap and green low power computer is here, but revolution to Linux and Internet storage will have to wait until 2009.

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