The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
In the December 23 newsletter, I wrote an article entitled,"The $99 Netbook Computer." The article quoted an announcement from Cherrypal stating that the company would soon be selling a $99 netbook (small laptop) computer. The system will run either the Linux or Windows CE operating systems, will have a small screen, small keyboard, limited memory, a four hour battery, and no hard drive. In fact, it is intended to be used mostly online with the various "cloud applications," such as Google Docs, Zoho Docs, Hotmail, Gmail, and possibly even cloud-based genealogy programs, such as The Next Generation (TNG), PhpGedView, New FamilySearch, Family Tree Explorer, and more. It will also surf the web and read and write email.
How good could a $99 computer be? Could it really be used for serious purposes? Could it be used for genealogy purposes? How about reading and writing email when traveling? I decided to find out.
The first thing I discovered is that the Cherrypal computer is a mythical beast. I couldn't find one “in the flesh.” The Cherrypal announcement simply states the company will be selling a $99 system “real soon now” but it is not yet available. However, I did find what appears to be the same system for sale by a number of vendors for the same price, give or take a very few dollars. In fact, Cherrypal appears to be a sales organization, not a manufacturer. It obtains systems from any of a number of manufacturers and places its own label on them.
The other systems appear to be identical to Cherrypal's planned $99 system: a 7-inch screen (which is very small), an undersized keyboard, an ARM processor (which is not compatible with Intel processors typically found in PC and Macintosh systems), 128 megabytes of RAM memory, a two gigabyte SSD (solid state disk drive), a slot to add an Secure Digital card (up to 16 gigabytes) for extra storage capacity, both wired and wi-fi wireless network connections, three USB ports, and the Windows CE 5.0 operating system. I'll describe that operating system a bit later. The $99 netbook weighs just over one pound (0.7 kilos) and easily slips into an overcoat pocket.
I was curious about the usefulness of this computer. Will it really be worthwhile? I ordered one.
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