Toshiba, it seems, is not content to be undercut by competitors like Acer and ASUS in the netbook market. Most of its machines are priced on the higher end, but it is now developing some netbooks designed to be under $600.
Norio Sasaki explained in simple words the motivation behind the change in tactics:
“The shift to lower prices is evident so our products must match.”
Details about the upcoming netbooks are scant, but we do know that Toshiba plans to make two of them. Sasaki commented that Toshiba would “like to increase [its] products [in the sub-$599 range] from four to six.”
These cheaper netbooks are expected first in Europe and the US, where price competition is highest.
Datawind has announced the new 7 inch UbiSurfer netbook. It’s tiny, but it costs a mere £159.99 (~$260) and comes with a year’s worth of mobile broadband.
The netbook has Wi-Fi in addition to its cellular network abilities. The internet access is provided via the Vodaphone network for up to 30 hrs/month. A bundled SIM and built-in cellular modem power the mobile internet.
It’s based on an ARM CPU, and runs a vaguely alluded to version of Linux. The UbiSurfer netbook is truly bare bones, with a mere 128 MB of memory and 1 GB of Flash storage. Curiously enough, Datawind covers for the lack of storage by providing 25 GB of online storage. The 7-inch display has only 800 x 480 pixels.
Other features include 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 3 USBs and a slot for SD cards. It can run for up to four hours. Software is also bundled with the new netbook, including the XIP Office suite, a media player, and email service.
Datawind’s Ubisurfer netbook is available immediately here.
Though AT&T made headlines by offering a $50 netbook at some Atlanta stores, Best Buy and Sprint are turning up the heat a notch by offering the Compaq HP Mini 110c netbook for a mere 99 cents with the purchase of a two-year data contract.
The netbook costs $389 without the plan, and Verizon charges $199 for its comparable netbook. However, Sprint and Best Buy plan to make money from the $60/month contract. That’s $1,440 over two years! It’s looking like Sprint is depending on netbook consumers being bad at math.
The specs of the Compaq Mini 110x-1040DX is pretty standard, with a 1.6 GHz Atom, 1 GB of RAM and a 3-cell battery. Other features include a “built-in camera and microphone, 92 percent-size keyboard, 3 USB ports, a 5-in-1 card reader and Intel GMA 950 graphics.”
Within the netbook category are a range of machines, ranging from the sparse to the luxurious. This recent release by Aware Electronics of Taiwan is in the former category, and is so far removed from the current trend of flashy netbooks that it might even deserve its own category.
The A-View netbook is a 7-inch machine with a detachable keyboard, a quality it shares with only one other device we know of on the market. It will sell for an ultra cheap $150, far below the market standard, but we don’t know for sure if it will ever see a US release. It’s looking like Asia is getting all the good netbook deals lately after all.
It’s refurbished, but has some powered up specs - 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HDD, and Windows XP replacing Acer’s traditional Linux.
The sapphire blue netbook is out for $370 when new, so if you don’t mind a dumbed-down warranty - 90 days instead of 12 months - this netbook is a great deal. You can get the same model priced at $289 over at TigerDirect as well.
Still not convinced? Be sure to check out our review of the Acer Aspire One netbook to see what you’re getting into.
The tech blogs and review sites have been squealing with delight at the idea - Coby is rumored to offer a netbook for under $100, a record-breaking price. Sounds good, right? But don’t freak out just yet.
The original announcement delivered by an affiliate of IndyMedia.org (Arkansas.IndyMedia.org), stated that Coby Electronics’ new netbooks were set to be available this March. They anticipated the netbooks would be based on the Chinese Loongson processor and feature a keyboard comparable with that for the original Eee PC. Known as the Poquetmate-7 and -9, these new netbooks would be making appearances on the shelves of grocery stores and discount markets.
The netbooks, informally known as ‘Midget PCs’, would run free open-source software as well as Linux. While the choice of OS would surely decrease Coby’s consumer base, who could possibly resist that price tag? This certainly explains the rapid spread of the rumors - it sounds amazing.
Arkansas.IndyMedia.org’s announcement claimed that Coby said the machines would be perfectly capable of running “90 percent” of consumer applications. It would also have drivers for “all major brands” of accessories.
The first few netbooks are rumored to set the stage for a line that Coby hopes to continue with, unbelievably, even smaller netbooks at lower prices. The blogs are mentioning “pocket PCs with foldable screens and keyboards” to fit into your pocket.
Now, for the bad news: these rumors are a bit too good to be true.
Arstechnica is calling the enthusiasts out by delivering the following announcement by Coby: “This story, or any announcement regarding a netbook, was not (emphasis theirs) initiated, condoned, or approved by Coby Electronics.” Apparently IndyMedia has a somewhat low standard for sourcing its material!
Well, that’s all we’ve got for now. Given the rapid evolution of the netbook market, nothing’s impossible - but for now, my hopes are tempered.
UPDATE (01/09/09): It seems like Coby does have a netbook, which we found at CES in Las Vegas. Check it out our article on it here.