An AU$199 netbook from Officeworks

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Obviously, you get what you pay for. But I think for families and other people that don’t have the cash to splurge on a high-end desktop or laptop, netbooks like this are great for removing the barriers for getting online.

Personally, I’d chuck in a cheap LCD monitor plus a wireless keyboard and mouse so you can use it as a desktop machine (and reduce wear and tear). Speakers or headphones are also a must if you want to listen to music or watch video. All up I think you can kit yourself out like this for about AU$360.

However, based on my own experience with a 3-cell battery on an Acer Aspire One, you also can’t expect to really use a low-end netbook like this as a mobile or commuting computing device. If this is what you want, then you’ll need to spend a little more on a netbook with a 6-cell battery.

Note: As the link appears to be broken, the model I’m talking about is an eM350 10.1″ Netbook with Windows 7 starter. Wireless b/g connectivity. 1GB RAM. 160GB HDD. 1.66GHz processor.

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5 thoughts on “An AU$199 netbook from Officeworks

  1. You could add in a bigger monitor and a wireless keyboard to increase productivity, but, the very slow CPU speed and overall system responsiveness does not change. It is like a $13K Hyundai. What is the point spending any more money on a very cheap car?If you could scrounge a free 15 inch or larger LCD monitor and a wireless keyboard, then, the accessorising strategy would make sense.If you are a very seldom Internet user and could persevere with a minuscule 10 inch monitor, then this would make sense as well.If you need a cheap secondary computer, especially when out and about and holidaying, then this would make sense.Otherwise, people who need a computer to use everyday would be better served with a cheap Officeworks desktop computer. They are faster, more expandable and would certainly last longer before you need to upgrade to due obsolescence.

  2. I forgot to add…$199 for a Windows 7 netbook? A mid range pre-paid mobile phone costs more!It looks as though the reality of 12 month, disposable Windows netbooks are upon us.Environmental issues aside, this development can only benefit the wider community.Never owned a computer before?… the $199 eMachines netbook is a good place to start! Chances are before too long, you will long for a more capable computer.

  3. Indeed, $199 for a Windows 7 netbook sounds a great deal – if you can get it! I’ve been to my local Officeworks 2 days running – and they’re out of stock. I was told that yesterday’s delivery sold out within 45 minutes! And today they’re not sure if any more are coming.

  4. Stephen – Based on my experiences with an Acer Aspire One with a similar spec, the performance isn’t actually that bad and its still cheaper than desktop. Having a full size screen also improves the perception of performance, due to less task switching. But, yes this does signal trend towards yet more disposable computing.GXH – yeah, I noticed the same thing at my local store, although the other day the assistant was promising another customer that they had another 20 units on order.

  5. Based on my experience with a Dell netbook which had a very similar specification – like all current netbooks – the performance was THAT bad.Whether or not any netbook is good enough for the prospective owner depends on what your expectations are, and, more importantly, your past experiences. Even for a first time computer owner, with daily use, the limitations and frustrations of a $199 netbook will become apparent as the specification was so low to begin with. Experienced users will note the lack of performance from the outset. This leads to a less satisfying experience and accelerates the need to upgrade the computer.Again, it is much like the Hyundai analogy I mentioned earlier. If you have a family of five with teenage children, taking a Hyundai Getz on a six hour drive to your holiday destination with luggage and a towed boat will just not work. The Getz’s size and performance is not up to scratch. At this point, the family is better served with a larger, more powerful and comfortable Hyundai SUV.But, if you have a family of four with the kids still in primary school, and only need it for weekday driving, then the Getz strategy would be feasible.As for “accessorising” a $199 netbook with a new monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse – which as James stated would easily cost a further $160 – it would defeat the purpose of an ultra low cost computer. More cynically, a pseudo netbook desktop replacement with these accessories is verging on the comical. Again, what is the point spending $1 000 on 18 inch rims for a $13K Hyundai?This dilemma can be avoided by spending more on the actual computer, up front. Looking at the current January 2011 Officeworks catalogue, Acer has a $497 Celeron desktop, which on the face of it has easily double the specification and performance of the netbook: 2.2 GHz Celeron, 2GB RAM, 320GB hard disk, DVD burner, 18.5 inch LCD and Windows Home Premium. If you need portability, proper entry level 15 inch notebooks can be had at a similar price.For first time computer owners, you also need to accept that the $199 is definitely NOT the only investment you will need to make. There are associated costs which cannot be avoided.You also need to consider the aggregate costs of:* Monthly Internet charges, which is naturally recurring* ADSL router / USB modem* External hard drive, for data back up* Printer / multi function centre* Microsoft Office software, if you do not care for OpenOffice * Digital camera. Using a film based camera when you own a computer makes little sense* iPhone / smart phone. When you own a computer, a better Internet connected phone with good MP3 music playback becomes more appealing, if not essential.* Computer workstation table, gas lift chair and foot rest. Hunching over a laptop or monitor while on your lounge or dinner table is bad for your posture and physical health.The end result is that after 12 months you are spending in excess of $1 000 for the entire system. Also, you need to consider that you would need to replace most of the computer hardware and software after 24 months due to obsolescence.If you do not need portability, then I believe a desktop is always a superior choice. Not only that, it will definitely last longer than a laptop physically and functionally, due to less wear and tear and a higher specification. However, it must be said, unlike 10 years ago, laptops are more popular, and, at the major retail shops, there is far more choice compared to desktops.So, as I stated before, if you are a very seldom Internet user or are already using a better primary computer, then the $199 eMachines netbook is definitely worth a look. The real bargain of the deal is that it has Windows 7 and a proper 160GB hard drive. This is as apart from the first 2007 netbooks, which especially for a new and novice user, had the arcane Linux OS and a paltry solid state drive. Otherwise, spending $600 on a proper laptop or a desktop machine would practically be the bare minimum. Again, think about the associated costs.With computers, as with anything, there is no such thing as a free lunch.Veritas.

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