Wednesday, February 4, 2009

India's laptop hoax

Oh dear. After the hype, the truth. Indian officials came clean about the world's cheapest computer. It is in fact the world's cheapest storage block. Instead the real story appears here.

What pictures of the machine showed was that the "computer" was nothing more than an external storage brick, the sort of thing you'd plug into a real laptop to hold your MP3 files.

PC Magazine Editor Lance Ulanoff chipped in to say that you can do a lot with ten bucks. "Buy 10 cups of coffee. ... Get a cheap T-shirt or two. What you can't do, however, is build a PC."

"A place to put your stuff does not add up to a PC," explained Ulanoff. "A cheap motherboard, 2 GB of super-cheap RAM, integrated graphics and an external power supply would cost more than $10. Maybe you could build all that for under $100, but then you still need a keyboard and display."

Wired at least considered the possible merits

We wonder if this is a proof of concept, a way for the government to create an open standard for cheap computers. The actual making of things could be done by private companies. That way, the little box starts to make sense -- a single, core system sat inside anything from a cheap OLPC-stlyle notebook to a low-powered desktop.

For the tech press it was a classic example of "vaporware" — promised technology that never materializes.For India a case of perceptions overtaking reality. What did the government civil servants think they were doing?

PS i was suckered too: although with health warnings

Experts doubt that a laptop at $20 or $10 is commercially sustainable. Rajesh Jain, managing director of Netcore Solutions and a pioneer of low-cost computing in India, said: "You cannot even [make] a computer screen for $20. And India does not build much computer hardware. So where will the savings come from?"

Some bloggers today saw the new laptop as nothing more than a "souped up calculator". The scepticism was summed up by Atanu Dey, whose blog read: "If the government could pull-off a near-impossible technological miracle, does it not imply that the entire global computer industry is either totally incompetent or else it is a huge scam which produces stuff at very little cost and sells them at exorbitant prices."


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Amanda Corey said...

I dont think that laptops can be created at $10 or so. Its not possible. I would rather suggest to find out some good computer brands and compare laptops as per your requirement and budget.