I continue to be amazed at the way the market for computer laptops evolves. Around eight years ago I bought myself a fantastic little Sharp with an external CD drive which meant that since you don’t use the CD drive much, you could cart this little beauty round in your briefcase like it was just another book. It weighed around 1 kilo. When I’d take it out of my briefcase people would ogle over it, and think it was something special.
So I figured that this was the way of the future. Alas, when it came time to replace it, there were a few ultra-lights on the market, but they were bloody expensive and the specs were not that good. I ended up with a cheaper much heavier one, because I don’t travel nearly as much as I did then. So it’s no big deal. In fact I bought a couple because I bought one a bit later when the first one was playing up as a backup. It’s amazing what you can get for around $1,000. And a good ultra light is around $4,000 so this set up still saved a couple of grand.
But I remain amazed seeing executives pull out highly expensive but heavy laptops. It’s surprising how little premium the market will bear for light weight. (And how many ultra-lights still have the CD installed). When I look at specs for a laptop one of the main specs I want to know is weight, but that’s not often given in advertising or often even in reviews.
Meanwhile, here is a small, lightweight laptop which I’m tempted to go out and buy. It’s ultra light – which is usually a a huge premium – and it’s made for school kids. It comes with a Linux OS, Firefox and Open Office, weighs a tad over 1 Kg.
It sells in the UK for £170 or £182 depending on what part of the article you read. That’s around $400 here, but the next ‘price point’ in the Oz market seems to be AUS$499 which is still screamingly good value. While you can now send batches of One Laptop per Child Foundation laptops to kids for US$200 per laptop (so long as the batches are 10,000 units at a time!), we ought to be doing something similar in developed countries.
Schools ought to jump at little micro-laptops. You can buy the Asus laptop pictured above for around one quarter of the annual computer rental fee we pay our daughter’s school. For that she picks up a new top of the line Fujitsu laptop every couple of years with full Microsoft software on it. The laptop is lightweight, but not ultra-light and weighs about twice what the Asus weighs which is really bad for her back as she lugs it around with everything else.
I might buy one myself. If I was reasonably confident of the compatibility of Open Office with my (and others’ Word and other Office files), if I knew it hooked up easily to an external keyboard and monitor for regular use – I’d use an outboard hard disc and it would be a great backup machine giving me a Linux box to play with as well.
Odd that they don’t also produce a version for the executive market – perhaps with another $500 worth of goodies including Windows software on board. Perhaps they will. In the meantime, here’s a picture of the One Laptop per Child laptop. A very pretty and inspiring sight.