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PC Mag Slams Cheap Wal-Mart Linux Desktop 671

Posted by Zonk
from the not-all-that-the-penguin-could-be dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PC Magazine reviews the $200 Linux desktop wonder sold by Wal-Mart. This desktop sold out quickly and has been cited as proof that consumers are tired of the Windows tax and ready for Linux. Not so according to PC Magazine, which gave the gPC a 1.5 star rating." Previous discussions we've had about system reviews were realistic but not quite so harsh; is this just nitpicking or is the 'shiny' starting to wear off of the cheap Linux PC concept?
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PC Mag Slams Cheap Wal-Mart Linux Desktop

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  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:39AM (#21838926)
    I'd say a 1.5 star rating is actually quite generous, considering the amount of money Linux spends in PC Magazine. It probably wouldn't get a mention at all if not for the huge sums of money Microsoft spends.

    In other words: move along, nothing to see here.
    • by bchernicoff (788760) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:48AM (#21838994)
      The review actually recommends someone spend a little extra and get a Vista system. That's when you know something is wrong.
      • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:55AM (#21839072)
        To be fair, in the same article he also recommends just installing Ubuntu on a cheap PC.
        • by Fred_A (10934) <fred&fredshome,org> on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:07AM (#21839174) Homepage

          To be fair, in the same article he also recommends just installing Ubuntu on a cheap PC.
          However it does so with strong undertones of "you could always install Linux (but it's complicated and not really good for anything except displaying a few web pages and doing basic stuff) if you're *that* cheap".

          Doesn't really qualify as unbiased reporting. :-/
          • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:14AM (#21839230) Journal
            I only got the "It's not something most beginners would want to do" undertones, not quite what you got from it...
            • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:46AM (#21839588) Homepage
              Installing Ubuntu isn't exactly brain surgery and it will yield a more usable system. This is a good idea with a poor execution. The Google-OS BS should have been left out in favor of a vanilla Ubuntu install.
              • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:54AM (#21839692)
                Ubuntu is nice, but it still isn't as noob-friendly as I'd like to see. On a coworker's machine (he is playing around with it as his first try at a Linux desktop), we kept trying to delete a menu entry. Right click on it, in the editor, delete. It's still there. Try it again. Still there. Over and over. Close window. Still shows. Rinse, repeat. Eventually it magically goes away.

                Myself: when scrolling through different desktop backgrounds it has a tendency to hang and not want to update the background anymore. Not serious, but annoying. I've also had a very app crashes from apps installed with their package manager (Anjuta crashes when trying to create or import any Glade file). Now I know that's the app and not the OS, but given that it's installed from their package manager I expect some level of quality checking on the included version to make sure it's not going to crash on something so simple.

                Overall I really want Linux to be better; I think it will eventually be the standard OS simply because of it's openness the community effort aspect. But, at this time there are just little quirks that MacOS and even Windows don't have (though they, particularly Windows, have a whole different set of problems, which is why I'm doing most of my general usage on MacOS these days :)).
                • by Fred_A (10934) <fred&fredshome,org> on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:19PM (#21840024) Homepage

                  Ubuntu is nice, but it still isn't as noob-friendly as I'd like to see.
                  Your points (regarding a few brittle or sometimes, broken apps making it into the repositories) are quite insightful and while seasoned users won't have much trouble with them it certainly can be a problem for newcomers. OTOH of course neither Windows nor MacOS (although the latter can do quite a lot more out of the box than Windows) come with such a vast number of applications, so a 1:1 comparison doesn't really make sense.

                  And regarding the "noob friendliness", this is always put forward with Windows although I keep seeing Windows users that just can't manage to make head from tails from their system, haven't really figured how to install or remove stuff or how to change basic settings. I don't really see the difference between that and pretty much any other graphical system/interface. If you don't know how to use it, you don't know how to use it. Whether it's Windows, MacOS or Unix doesn't really matter much. The interface is fairly similar anyway when you aren't already conditioned into the quirks of a specific system.

                  What's currently considered friendly is what you're used to.
                  No more no less. I find Unix/Linux very friendly because I'm quite used to it and understand the way it works. I find Windows downright hostile when I have to use it because none of it makes much sense to me. I can still use it fine because I've been around computers for a while, I just avoid it. Pretty much the same thing with MacOS : I have an iBook which I used for a year before getting fed up with it and replacing it with a small Samsung running Linux.

                  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:38PM (#21840244)
                    Oh I agree on the interface parts. I don't think a nicely configured Linux machine is any harder to actually use than a Windows or Mac machine (though some tasks like software installation can be harder, but many home users don't install software and just use what came with the computer, and many office workers aren't allowed to install stuff anyways).

                    My main complaint with Linux is that it, as you quite aptly describe, feels "brittle" in a lot of aspects. Sure the system is more secure, and arguably faster, but little things crash quite frequently. So many of the apps behave in a "quirky" manner. Buttons that have a mouseover will have the mouseover effect get stuck sometimes for example. Desktop backgrounds stick. Little errors will appear during the bootup process of a default install that even though they don't affect the system, will take forever to "fix" (this has been more a problem on Red Hat installs than Ubuntu).

                    It's just those things that degrade my Linux experience. That's not to say I don't use it still. I've actually been using Linux on at least 1 computer since 1997-98 or so, and I admin several Linux servers here at work. Started with Debian (used for a few days only), then Mandrake for a few years, then Slackware for a few more years, then Gentoo for the last few, and lately I've been playing around with Ubuntu. There has been vast improvement, and I still can get things done on any of them personally, but they're all still a bit shakey for me to say, setup on my parent's computer. I wouldn't hesitate to put them in front of a Mac though, not because it's easier to use, but because the system just "behaves" better. Unfortunately they are stubborn about buying new computers and they basically just run hand-me-downs that I give them, so they are currently on Windows and though it's easy to use and the OS itself works, the constant trips out there to get it going again after they've bogged it down with spyware are annoying. I have a Ghost image that I can just slap back across the main partition when they hose it up (data files are on a seperate partition), but it's still annoying :).
                    • by Fred_A (10934) <fred&fredshome,org> on Friday December 28, 2007 @01:02PM (#21840508) Homepage
                      In my experience (but of course it varies wildly with the apps you run), the brittle side was a real problem when I was running Mandrake (roughly up to one year before they changed their name to Mandriva). It was by far the distribution with the most broken packages.
                      I've run (not in that order) RH, Slackware, Mandrake, Debian (still use it on servers), Gentoo and now (K)Ubuntu because it's less of a hassle.

                      The brittle side really depends on the choices made by the distribution packagers (at the time Mandrake tended to always package the latest bleeding edge beta of everything) but it seems to me that (at least with Ubuntu lately) it's definitely gotten quite a bit better.

                      OTOH I've had a number of odd crashes in XP as well (where the only applications I run are store bought games, an antivirus, and sometimes Firefox) in drivers, various apps, etc. No system is immune (oh and my Mac running 10.4 had its share of problems too) :(

                      Software nowadays... well, it's not as good as it used to be ya know ;)
                  • by gosand (234100) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:59PM (#21841692)
                    And regarding the "noob friendliness", this is always put forward with Windows although I keep seeing Windows users that just can't manage to make head from tails from their system, haven't really figured how to install or remove stuff or how to change basic settings.


                    EXACTLY. People always comment on how much friendlier Windows is.... I just don't see it. If it was so damn friendly, then why do I still have to keep answering questions about it from my family and friends? And seriously, at what point are we going to be noob-free? Teenagers these days haven't known when computers didn't exist. My 2.5 year old daughter can use the mouse and play her Reader Rabbit games on the PC pretty well, whereas an elderly neighbor had no clue how to use a mouse - she was hovering her hand over it and moving her hand around. Quite a clash of generations. I guess we'll always have noobs in a sense, but they won't be as prevalent.


                    I've been using Linux on my home machine since RedHat 6.1, and the advances it has made on the desktop are nothing short of amazing. But there are still things I don't know, and things that frustrate the hell out of me with it. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm more comfortable with Windows than Mac, those things just do not mesh well with my brain. It will be interesting in 10, 20 years to see how things have progressed. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up. :)

                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by clang_jangle (975789)

                    I keep seeing Windows users that just can't manage to make head from tails from their system, haven't really figured how to install or remove stuff or how to change basic settings

                    Once I finally started refusing outright to "do windows", even for friends and family, it was really something to see how quickly most of my little social circle switched to Mac or linux. The moral of the story? When people say they "already know how to use windows" what they really mean is that the friends they use to keep t

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by Excelsior (164338)

                    of course neither Windows nor MacOS (although the latter can do quite a lot more out of the box than Windows) come with such a vast number of applications, so a 1:1 comparison doesn't really make sense.

                    Good point, that often gets missed. If you download software for Windows, and it turns out to be buggy, you don't blame it on Windows. But because a Linux distribution delivers a huge amount of software together, a bug in any one of them gets blamed on the distribution (in the gp case, Ubuntu).

                    I guess, thou

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    What's currently considered friendly is what you're used to.
                    No more no less.

                    I'm not so sure. Give a man who's never touched a computer before a GUI and a command line, which do you think he will choose? Visual aids, and mapping out functions on screen are undeniably more new user friendly than a simple command line. We're visual creatures, and visual aides help. Now that leaves the question: what other user-friendliness conventions are similarly justified by our biology?

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    "And regarding the "noob friendliness", this is always put forward with Windows although I keep seeing Windows users that just can't manage to make head from tails from their system..."

                    On the flip side, you can't throw a rock without hitting 6 Windows users. Help for those users is a lot easier to come by.
                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by bcrowell (177657)

                  Having used both Ubuntu and gOS, I'd maintain that Ubuntu is far easier to use than gOS, simply because gOS is insanely buggy at this point. It baffles me that they decided to go with their own flaky Enlightenment-based desktop. It's hard enough selling Linux to the masses, so why introduce their own alpha-quality software into the mix?

                  As far as Gnome's usability versus Windows's usability, I teach community college physics labs in a room with a mix of Ubuntu and Windows machines. My students don't seem

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by HermMunster (972336)
                  The issues with not being able to delete a menu entry is due most of the time to users attempting to certain things as root inside their home directory. Hence, when certain files are created they end up with root permissions (meaning you need root to modify them). I suspect this is what happened in your/your friend's case. At some point the root account was used to create a hidden folder or file in your ~ folder and that caused you to now need root permissions to alter them. You should avoid root at all
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by vimh42 (981236)
                Actually this article made me want to buy one. All his 'negatives' really meant nothing to me. It does sound like I'll want to ditch the installed OS and go with something else though. I really prefer Xubuntu over vanilla Ubuntu though on a low end system though.
              • by Machtyn (759119) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:46PM (#21842682) Homepage Journal
                Here's my experience with Ubuntu 7.10. The install was GREAT! On my mom's PC, one built for WinME, with a total of 640MB RAM, the install took less time than a WinXP install.

                My experience afterwards was less than thrilling. I tout Ubuntu, and Linux, as a great system for people who want to do most things except gaming. Even gaming works with a little understanding of Wine.

                Unfortunately, most web sites are using Flash 9, and I have had nothing but complete lock-ups with Ubuntu and Adobe's flash player installed. The mouse would move, but that was it, no keyboard response. Even Windows, for all of its problems, rarely locks up the keyboard without first locking the mouse.

                Another issue that exacerbated the issue was their golf GPS device that works only on Windows. For a guy like me, who would like to get away from crappy OS and security design and paying the MS tax, this was nothing but frustrating and annoying to the nth degree. I suppose I could have tried getting the device to work in Wine, but that the Flash 9 issue caused me to reload Windows on the thing.

                I do need to spend more time in Linux myself so that I can better support others using it. This has been a long process, though. (Mostly trying to get my Mythbox up and running... and they've taken away the biggest advantage it had, it's own free programming guide via http interface.)
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by arivanov (12034)
                  Flash 9 lockups are a sign that your audio is not set up correctly. Basically, flash in its default state goes for the default ALSA device and if it is already locked by the OS you are pretty much stuffed. Depending on your setup it is either a browser or even X lockup or a coredump. The only solution is to have libflashsupport installed and set to default to ESD or PULSE and either esd or pulseaudio configured. From there on flash 9 works flawlessly. Oh, and you owe me a beer.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by plague3106 (71849)
            Because it points out flaws in Linux it's biased in some way? I did try Linux as my desktop, and it wasn't up to par, which is why I'm back on Windows.

            For basic web surfing and email, $450 for a Vista Home Basic PC probably is a better buy.
            • by jacquesm (154384) <j&ww,com> on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:47AM (#21839594) Homepage
              you are so funny. I don't even use windows machines anymore when I'm at friends and have access to them for internet banking or ssh'ing into my servers for fear of using a machine that's compromised.
              Linux on the desktop right now still has a few rough edges but compared to several years ago the difference with MS products is really too small to notice. Favorite gripes:

              - IE only websites (yes, some people really don't get it)
              - proprietary codecs

              Faults in linux that I think need fixing urgently:

              - make it so that when you try to fix a small problem (say upgrade or install some small application) that you don't end up with having to upgrade more and more of the system.

              I mean this sort of thing:

              root@jam:/home/jam/Desktop# apt-get install kruler
              Reading package lists... Done
              Building dependency tree... Done
              The following extra packages will be installed:
                  binutils binutils-dev cpp cpp-4.1 cpp-4.2 gcc gcc-4.1 gcc-4.1-base gcc-4.2 gcc-4.2-base kcontrol kdebase-bin kdebase-bin-kde3
                  kdebase-data kdebase-kio-plugins kdegraphics-kfile-plugins kdelibs-data kdelibs4c2a kdesktop kdm kfind kicker konqueror kpersonalizer
                  ksplash libart-2.0-2 libasound2 libc6 libcupsys2 libdbus-1-3 libfreetype6 libgcc1 libgnutls13 libgomp1 libhal-storage1 libhal1
                  libjasper1 libjpeg62 libkeyutils1 libkonq4 libkrb53 liblzo2-2 libncurses5 libopencdk10 libopenexr2ldbl libpam0g libpoppler-qt2
                  libpoppler2 libselinux1 libsepol1 libslang2 libssl0.9.8 libstdc++6 libxml2 libxrandr2 locales tzdata util-linux util-linux-locales
                  zlib1g
              Suggested packages:
                  binutils-doc cpp-doc gcc-4.1-locales gcc-4.2-locales gcc-multilib automake1.9 libtool flex bison gcc-doc gcc-4.1-multilib gcc-4.1-doc
                  gcc-4.2-doc gcc-4.2-multilib libgcc1-dbg libgomp1-dbg libmudflap0-4.2-dbg libmudflap0-4.2-dev fam kicker-applets ksvg gij-4.1
                  libgcj7-awt libjessie-java libasound2-plugins glibc-doc libfreetype6-dev gnutls-bin libjasper-runtime krb5-doc krb5-user libpam-doc
              Recommended packages:
                  libmudflap0-dev
              The following packages will be REMOVED:
                  build-essential g++ g++-4.1 libc6-dev libjpeg62-dev libncurses5-dev libopenexr2c2a libssp0 libstdc++6-4.1-dev zlib1g-dev
              The following NEW packages will be installed:
                  cpp-4.2 gcc-4.2 gcc-4.2-base kdebase-bin-kde3 kruler libgomp1 libjasper1 libkeyutils1 liblzo2-2 libopencdk10 libopenexr2ldbl
                  libpoppler-qt2 libpoppler2
              The following packages will be upgraded:
                  binutils binutils-dev cpp cpp-4.1 gcc gcc-4.1 gcc-4.1-base kcontrol kdebase-bin kdebase-data kdebase-kio-plugins
                  kdegraphics-kfile-plugins kdelibs-data kdelibs4c2a kdesktop kdm kfind kicker konqueror kpersonalizer ksplash libart-2.0-2 libasound2
                  libc6 libcupsys2 libdbus-1-3 libfreetype6 libgcc1 libgnutls13 libhal-storage1 libhal1 libjpeg62 libkonq4 libkrb53 libncurses5
                  libpam0g libselinux1 libsepol1 libslang2 libssl0.9.8 libstdc++6 libxml2 libxrandr2 locales tzdata util-linux util-linux-locales
                  zlib1g
              48 upgraded, 13 newly installed, 10 to remove and 843 not upgraded.
              Need to get 74.0MB of archives.
              After unpacking 17.6MB disk space will be freed.
              Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

              Even if it worked (which it doesn't) it would still be unacceptable.

              - stop switching kernel API's around every few releases, release a binary driver spec and stick to it

              So that those of us that want to get some work done can just concentrate on that and leave the 'information wants to be free' bs to others

              - get rid of all those duplicate halfbaked projects and put all the effort into a single set of office software.

              What use is to have 3 different versions of everything, with every forked and me-too project the chance of large scale end-user adoption for linux goes down.

              That said, I haven't had windows on my desktop box for the last 4 years and in spite of the above I'm very happy with it.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by calebt3 (1098475)

                - get rid of all those duplicate halfbaked projects and put all the effort into a single set of office software.
                There lies both the greatest weakness and greatest strength of FOSS: There is no final authority controlling it. There is nobody who has the authority to say "We need to stop duplicating effort and merge all these projects." But at the same time, if some projects lose sight of the goal (Novell/Gnome/etc), people are free to switch to another.
              • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday December 28, 2007 @06:39PM (#21843770) Homepage Journal
                "- stop switching kernel API's around every few releases, release a binary driver spec and stick to it"
                Too bad it probably will not happen.
                For some reason people seem to think that this will make companies release FOSS drivers. The fact that nVidia and ATI are still releasing closed drivers doesn't seem to matter to them.
                Then you have the statment that they don't have to write FOSS drivers they can just release the specs and the FOSS community will write better drivers than they can.
                Well ATI is releasing the specks for some of it's GPUs so I guess we will see.
                "- get rid of all those duplicate halfbaked projects and put all the effort into a single set of office software.

                What use is to have 3 different versions of everything, with every forked and me-too project the chance of large scale end-user adoption for linux goes down."
                That can not be done. How do you tell someone that they can not write a program? Why would you want to?

                I figure choice is a good thing. And since most of these projects are free what right do I have to tell them what to do?
            • by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:06PM (#21839836)
              Because it points out flaws in Linux it's biased in some way?

              Actually, it didn't point out flaws in "Linux". The complaints were that the desktop wasn't very functional and that Flash wasn't installed. Also that the hardware was "slow", though he didn't give any numbers at all for that.

              So these flaws, if they are that, pretty trivial and not fundamental parts of Linux, could be and probably will be fixed very easily. It wasn't really unfair, but you can see this guy spends his life using top end machines and apps, he's just not interested in a cheap machine. And of course, the page is full of ads for Vista-equipped PCs, as he suggests you "save up for instead".

      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:58AM (#21839098) Journal
        If you don't expect a strong money bias on a PC Mag article, you haven't been paying attention. There are a lot of whores out there, and PC Mag is one of the worst.
      • Agreed. There are some serious questions about journalistic independence you have to ask when a potentially market-shifting product (cheap linux PCs in general, not necessarily this particular model) gets bashed by a magazine that makes a living selling ads for companies directly threatened by the product being reviewed.
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:29AM (#21839390)
        Anything I would say would be redundant...

        Hmmm...

        Purple Chicken.

        No..

        Hmm.

        Okay-- the linux PC SOLD OUT. How can you argue with a product selling out? It may be a 1.5 rating compared to a new whizbang box (that sells for $1800) but at $200, a lot of people felt it was a 4.0 rating.

        This is like when the PS3 people were saying Wii sucked-- while PS3's were sitting unsold and Wii's were rare as hen's teeth. Oh wait... that's still true after 14 months.

        Microsoft gives tons of money to these magazines- a magazine recently fired a reviewer for giving a bad review to a paying advertiser (like 40 days ago-- big scandal).

        Hmm.

        The key is this... Microsoft's "network effect" is fading. Vista sucks so developers can't count on it being installed and more and more linux boxes are out there creating an increasingly large market for hardware and software that works with linux. And the more "consumers" who buy linux (and do not install it and are not gear heads) the friendlier developers of hardware and software are going to make their linux products.

        For the first time since 2000- I'd say we are really approaching a tipping point. Microsoft will always be big in the market but very soon there will not be an assumption that it is the market.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Ed Avis (5917)
        Not quite. The article says

        Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista, or get the ASUS Eee PC 4G laptop.
        The Eee PC is another Linux-based system. From reading the review, I don't think the author is biased against Linux, he just thought this particular distribution and this slow hardware wasn't much fun to use.
    • by moshennik (826059) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:51AM (#21839018)
      My favorite was the comment about "Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista, ". I would like to add, that for $450 you can also buy a gun and a few bullets to shoot yourself in a foot. Vista Basic by itself costs $199.. which would leave you with just enough money to buy enough memory to run it and one would have to sell his kidney to buy the rest of the Vista compatible junk required to run Vista. To me $200 with PC with OS does not seem like a bad deal, granted some kinks probably need to be worked out.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Like2Byte (542992)
      I was reading the article then I spotted this little gem:

      The gPC was slapped together to sell to Web-savvy people who have very little pocket money. My advice to these people? Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista,...

      All stop! This is the point where "follow the money" entered my head.

      This isn't a review. It's an attack on a competing OS where PC Mag can affect the mind of their readers. Put linux in a negative light to thier readership and the readers

  • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:39AM (#21838928) Homepage Journal

    Look who the biggest advertiser is in PC Mag ... you know ... follow the money ...

    The box does everything most people want - safe browsing on the web, email, and word processing. Throw in an extra stick of ram, and its a decent second box for a developer.

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:58AM (#21839106) Homepage Journal
      Or maybe this isn't that great of a Linux box.
      Take an honest look at it.
      1. The modem doesn't work... Yes it is a Winmodem but should you build a box and put a none functioning modem in it?
      2. They didn't install Flash and don't seem to have a super easy way to install Flash.
      3. gOS? Yet another flavor of Ubuntu but not really Ubuntu.
      I would love to see this box compared to one of Dell's Ubuntu PCs.
      Maybe it is just not that great of a Linux Box.
      I am tempted to buy the motherboard from it and put it in one of the extra cases I have sitting at home. Maybe toss on Openfiler and see what if I could create a little Home server to replace my old PIII server.

  • Think of the source, dudes. PC magazine does not write about linux or Macs. They write about PCs--which are implicitly Windows-based. If they did not do this, they would be pissing in their own soup and Microsoft would never talk to them again.
  • by LoudMusic (199347) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:40AM (#21838934)
    It's a $200 computer. Dell doesn't even sell anything that cheap, and their cheap stuff is pretty crappy. But, for $200 any computer at all is pretty good. The iPhone costs twice that much and it doesn't even come with a mouse!
    • by matt me (850665) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:00AM (#21839126)

      The iPhone costs twice that much and it doesn't even come with a mouse!
      Even if it did, that mouse wouldn't have two buttons :p
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by COMON$ (806135)
      I beg to differ. I have seen PCs go for sub $200 on dell outlet before. Hell of a PC to throw Cent or Ubuntu on if you can catch them. However you have to beat the E-Bay junkies staring at the list all day long.

      Heck right now pulling up the dell outlet I see a PC for $209 with 1GB memory, 250GB Hard Drive, X2 proc, CDRW/DVD and a year warranty, and yes windows vista.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      It's not only a $200.00 pc but it's a MINI ITX pc. makes it awesome for hacking. I cant buy those motherboard for that cheap (if you factor in ram and HDD value)

      I have purchased 4 of them to strip the motherboard out and use in other projects. they make perfect car Media center PC's. Install mediaportal and they work great. Hell if I sell the rest of the parts off (I get $15.00 each for the cases to a local PC shop) I end up getting the parts I want at a big discount.
  • Coincidence? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by quaketripp (621850) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:41AM (#21838950)
    So, they nitpick and trash this PC while advertising every other (windows) PC on their page. I'm sure their sponsor's have no influence, I mean, it's America, lobbyists, er, sponsors don't control anything.
  • by Tridus (79566) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:45AM (#21838964) Homepage
    For the target audience of the magazine, the rating is mostly correct. Its not a very good system for those people.

    But for grandma? Do you really trust PC Magazine to be *capable* of reviewing something the way your grandmother would see it, rather then how a full time PC user would? Its a similar problem when someone like 1up does a review of a "casual" focused game. The review is meaningless because who the game is aimed at and who the review is aimed at are completely different markets.

    The only way to review this thing properly is to give it to someone in the Walmart crowd who doesn't use a PC very much now, and see how they do with it. Unfortunately, I don't know of a magazine that does that sort of review.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBCook (132727)

      I thought this was a pretty good review. While some of it may not matter, I think their points about installing Flash and the inconsistencies in the OS (like the Google search on the desktop) are very insightful, and the kind of thing that would drive Grandma mad. Same think with the broadband/modem bit (where the modem doesn't even work).

      It sounds like a weak piece of hardware (mostly the CPU, a used P3 or P4 would do you better, probably) with a sad OS. If you bought the thing and then immediately put Ub

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)
        Umm, I think you mean an extra $250, and you'll get a box that's still underpowered for the OS it's expected to run (in this case, Vista).

        I agree, the complaints about the OS are legitimate, and will hopefully be fixed in later revs of the product. But the argument that you can just pay twice as much to get a functional Vista box is a) bullshit, and b) missing the point entirely (that this is an ultra-cheap PC for those who need such a thing).
  • by whitroth (9367) <whitroth@@@5-cent...us> on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:47AM (#21838982) Homepage
    I went and skimmed. Half a gig of RAM, 80G h/d... and it runs "Ubuntu, but not speedily"?

    Pardon me, I'm typing this running on an AMD Sempron 2600, 512M RAM, and running SuSE 10.3, and it runs quite nicely, thankyouverymuch. In fact, it seems faster than the SuSE 10.0 I was running till earlier this week.

    And I was running SuSE 10.0 on an old 900 MHZ machine in the first part of '06, and it ran just fine.

    I'd say that evidence shows PC Mag's review for what it is: bs.

                  mark
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sweede (563231)
      The 200$ PC is a via C7 processor. I have one, it can barely run a desktop in linux. the C7 processor is best suited for very thin client applications or non-display terminal type services such as a firewall or a slow file server.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lumpy (12016)
        Funny I have one and it is running as a MythTV recorder perfectly. Hell it transcodes from mpeg2 to mpeg4 AS it records from 2 recording tuners at the same time and it works perfectly(DVR-500).

        Upgrade the graphics to run X "speedily" it's got the horsepower, the onboard video chipset is really only good for console use.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:49AM (#21839004)
    Less the $200 in hardware, and an OS that never saw light before. A couple of things about the OS are less then optimal, and it runs slower then the Alienware desktop running XP they reveiwed last week. Gee, isn't that the same as saying it is just like any computer running Vista?
  • by framauro13 (1148721) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:50AM (#21839010)
    ...you get what you pay for. This was a good attempt to break out to the average consumer; live and learn.
  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:51AM (#21839020)
    Last I heard, Wal-Mart's business model was to restock their stores based on demand, not based on whether some magazine recommends their products. I don't think people who shop at Wal-Mart are all that concerned about quality or performance, so much as price and 'does it work'.

    The last batch sold out, so chances are they'll sell it again, and again, until demand starts to falter or until they can no longer profit from them.

    - RG>
  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:53AM (#21839042) Homepage Journal
    This review isn't just nitpicky - it completely misses the point on a number of fronts. Here are a couple:

    Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista, or get the ASUS Eee PC 4G laptop.

    A major selling point of this is that it is cheap and his first recommendation is buying something more than twice as expensive. Not only that, but he recommends buying a $450 system with Vista. Are there companies selling systems at that price with hardware even capable of running Vista? If so, sight unseen, I can gaurantee you that they suck. The Eee PC is a sweet little machine, in my estimation, but it is no replacement for a desktop. Whenever I see someone griping about the Eee PC it is because they are expecting it to act like a desktop and it isn't one. Also - the Eee PC doesn't answer his critique of this system not running windows and mac apps. So he is just fishing for things to pile up against the system even if they aren't consistent with one another.

    The upside is that the processor consumes only 20W peak by itself, and during use, the PC did keep its overall power usage to the 20W-to-50W range.
    Another nit to pick about gPC's green claims: While the VIA processor is low-power-consuming and Everex claims the gPC is fully RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) compliant, it has no Energy Star rating or EPEAT certification.

    That's not a nitpick. It's stupid. The thing uses less energy than most other systems, he says so himself, so he complains that this fact is not certified. Apparently certified and using more energy is more environmentally friendly than not certified and using less energy.

    You could buy this PC to use for a hardware project, such as for installing Windows Home Server or another flavor of Linux. For those purposes, however, I would recommend you just use that old Pentium III box in your closet,...
    Windows home server? So now you are better off buying an underpowered Vista machine at twice the price or taking Linux off this box and replacing it with a buggy windows product. Nice. But dig up an old PIII because for some reason that's better. No explanation of how or why but the mind boggles.

    The setup sheet rightly notes that, for the PC to fully function, you need a broadband Internet connection with an Ethernet cable. The picture on the setup sheet, however, points to the included modem...
    The words are right, the picture is wrong. In other words the documentation doesn't exactly match with reality. I have to say that this has been true of more products that I've bought than has not been true. Anyone wanting to run a PC that is advertised as relying on the internet for full functionality over dial up, is going to be frustrated by anything they buy, no matter how powerful because dialup sucks.

    He had to change the monitor resolution. That's rough. He had to install Flash and had choices that confused him. That's a curious oversight on the part of the manufacturer but hardly a show stopper.

    Needless to say, programs written for Mac OS X or Windows that you can buy online or in a retail store won't work on the Linux-based gPC it's mainly a Web-based PC.
    Wow - that's almost like investigative reporting. It's a web-based PC? I'd have never guessed that from all the advertising. I shouldn't get snarky I guess, but come on. He's upset because this isn't a high end desktop that can run mad and windows apps. He wants it to be a G5 but it isn't so it gets a low rating. If he rated cars only high-end sports cars would get a chance. Anything else would be under powered and without the luxuries he expects on every vehicle regardless of price.

    He is right about getting what you pay for. And more is quite often better. But the slightly more difficult question is "How much is enough?" And for many people, in my experience, this cheap little machine is enough. Why should it be punished because he wants more?
    • by kaiser423 (828989) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:13AM (#21839226)
      To be fair to the reviewer, he is actually fairly spot-on, if not a little jumpy in his recommendations.

      To clear it up, he says if you want a new computer, save up a bit more. If you want something that performs as good as this computer of better, go dig up an old PIII. If you bought this computer and are looking for something to do with it, set it up as a file server or something (by putting Windows Home Server on it). He also recommended that if you want Linux, to just install the regular Ubuntu instead of this weird gOS.

      He had a lot of recommendations, and it takes actually reading the article, and not just skimming it to see that all of his recommendations make sense. Sadly, this is Slashdot and you'll get modded to +5.

      Yes, the oversight of a flash player is curious. Very curious since the computer touts itself about allowing you to watch YouTube. But it doesn't out of the box, and the installer doesn't really go to the right location! It goes to the generic macromedia flash page instead of popping up something else. It is really inexcusable to not have a "big feature" that you tout not working out of the box.

      The fact that lots of companies get the documentation wrong doesn't mean that it's ok to get the documentation wrong....something as simple as plugging in an ethernet cable should be right. Period. End of story.

      ok, so he put in a disclaimer that you can't run Windows programs. Given the ultra-cheap nature of this computer, it's something that any competent reviewer would put in the article "hey guys, just in case you didn't know, this Linux thing can't run Windows or Mac programs." Anyone who does their diligence would put that in their review. It's not a knock, just a fact that quite a few people might not know.

      Yea, so he recommends a more expensive option. That's because his review concludes, that spending $200 and getting this PC is not a good value. But, for $150 more you could get something that is a good value. Maybe not helpful for someone who only has $200, but it lets you know where he stands.


      Now to be fair to the guy, he spends most of his time complaining about how the gOS is just a messed up version of Ubuntu with all this random marketing crap to make it sound like a google computer, and to put all this weird, crazy marketing stuff on it. Basically, he complains that you get Ubuntu as designed by marketing-droids. A very useful point of knowledge -- that the first Linux PC offering was bastardized by marketing people, and that gOS is not a good representation of what Linux can do!
      • and it takes actually reading the article

        I read the entire thing more than once. I did not choose to reproduce the entire thing in my post. Is this what would have been necessary to convince you that I did so?

        Given the ultra-cheap nature of this computer, it's something that any competent reviewer would put in the article

        Really? Is that why every time I read a review of a low end windows machine they point out repeatedly that I wont be able to run apple or linux software
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Penguinisto (415985)

      He's upset because this isn't a high end desktop that can run mad and windows apps. He wants it to be a G5 but it isn't so it gets a low rating. If he rated cars only high-end sports cars would get a chance. Anything else would be under powered and without the luxuries he expects on every vehicle regardless of price.

      Welcome to the entire raison d' etre of PC Magazine. Take a peek at their 'best' rated stuff sometime... none of it costs less than four figures, and often you can buy a dual-quad PowerMac for what some of these systems cost (yet strangely enough, I bet half the mag's fanboys would whine about Macs being too pricey...)

      /P

  • Asumes too much. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by strredwolf (532) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:55AM (#21839060) Homepage Journal
    I think PC Magazine was assuming this was going to be a general purpose PC. It's not. It's a web terminal -- a PC that's sole purpose is to go online and let the user surf the net in relative safety.

    From their site:

    BOTTOM LINE: The Everex gPC is ostensibly either a "green PC" or the "Google PC." While it mostly fills the first description (without all the certification), the second is held up in legal wrangling and lackluster implementation. The gPC is not the alternative to Windows or Mac OS X it's cracked up to be; it's very frustrating to use.
    It's a "green PC," but if you're expecting to do more than the basics (aka go online, chat, email, office stuff) then this isn't a PC for you -- you'll need something edging $1K because the graphics won't cut it.

    PROS:It's cheap. You don't have to worry about Windows viruses and malware. Available at over 600 Wal-Mart stores and online.

    CONS:Ethernet "Internet Connection Required." Modem is nonfunctional (for now). 1,280-by-800 resolution forced by internal graphics. Adobe Flash installation can be confusing for a novice. Google search window goes to WebRunner, not the expected Firefox. Programs written for Mac or Windows will not run.
    It's very cheap, because it's a Mini-ITX. It runs Linux, so forget 99% of all the problems with Windows. And if you got low-end broadband you're running through the Ethernet port anyway, so why install a modem? Plus, you got Firefox, OpenOffice, and Thunderbird. You're good to go if you're an old geezer who wants to keep in touch with the kids and don't want to pay too much (since you got that low-end DSL that's just fast enough).

    The market for the gPC isn't for everyone, just folks who want to get online and not worry about getting in trouble. PC Magazine missed the point, and the 1.5 review can just be tossed out the window.
  • by canUbeleiveIT (787307) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:55AM (#21839074)
    Is the grass blue today? Is the sky green today? If I didn't know better, I would almost say that--instead of being excoriated--Walmart is being defended on slashdot. Mark the date. Oh well, common enemy, strange bedfellows and all that.
  • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04@highp o i n t . e du> on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:56AM (#21839078)
    It comes with a modem that doesn't work in Linux. Flash isn't installed by default.

    Of course, the reviewer is also a moron for complaining that it doesn't support programs written for other operating systems. It certainly does support Windows apps much better than Windows supports Linux apps.
  • by tomz16 (992375) on Friday December 28, 2007 @10:57AM (#21839082)
    Stopped reading after this sentence...

    "My advice to these people? Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista..."
  • Bias? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lord Byron II (671689) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:03AM (#21839144)
    Did you notice how they listed that it doesn't run Mac or Windows software as a drawback? Vista doesn't run Mac, Linux, and some XP software, but you never see that listed in the reviews. To take a $200 computer and review it compared to one costing twice as much (or more), it should be obvious which one is superior.
  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:10AM (#21839210)
    I'm actually glad to see this getting any attention at all. A cheap do-it-yourselfer is the perfect box for a hobbyist or a beginner to get their feet wet with. Since it's not too expensive you don't have that "I don't want to ruin it" nervousness that keeps people from getting their hands dirty mucking around with a machine ten times this price.

    Linux also requires users to have a little more familiarity with your hardware, so you're not just learning about how to use the system -- you're learning about what's inside, too.

    On the downside, 512MB of RAM is barely enough these days; I'm sure they could have left out the speakers and gone with a full gig, unless part of their plan is to make money on these kinds of aftermarket options.

    It's also very cool how they integrated the Google apps into the system, albeit without the official blessing of the big G. I guess the real question is, when are they going to put out a similar product on their own?
  • by GreggBz (777373) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:14AM (#21839232) Homepage
    This is the same useless periodical that continually gives Nortron Internet Security [pcmag.com] a 4 or 5 star rating year after year. Enough said.
  • Some Valid Points (Score:3, Informative)

    by mpapet (761907) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:14AM (#21839238) Homepage
    Before yet another post dismissing the review in its entirety is posted, there are some totally valid claims.

    1. Lack of flash plugin. Yes, they totally side-stepped the legal problems, but how about a script to do the job on startup??
    2. Lack of polish. I backported everex's e17 gui onto an older kubuntu and I found the same issues the reviewer did. Plug a flash drive in and watch what doesn't happen. No system tray and none was ever planned. I discovered pulseaudio though and that was worth the effort.
    3. It's under-powered. Until Microsoft sells PC Magazine's editors on a "new low-power market" PC Mag will call low-power anything bad.

    It should go without saying that a $299 PC is the worst possible thing to happen to PC Magazine. Everex certainly isn't going to spend money on PC Magazine's editors or buy adverts with the tiny profit margins.

    As an FYI: Everex's one or two of the e17 source packages are very broken. They aren't even ubuntu quality and they would never make it into a Debian repo. I took careful notes during the whole build and I'll forward them to anyone who is interested in building the desktop.

    Attention KDE developers! Add native pulseaudio support to the kde desktop ASAP!
  • target audience (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:16AM (#21839254) Homepage Journal
    I can think of at least two groups that would buy this machine. First are people who have a computer buy want an extra to web or mail. Second, people who want a computer for thier kids for school. The kids already have 1 or more game consoles, so gaming is not an issue. The kid need to surf and do school work. The kid can use google apps or OO.org. I have seen very average kids pick up very complex programs very quickly, so don't say that retraining is an issue. For kids, teaching them only one way to do things is the issue. makes them myopic.

    For either group the OS makes no difference. if the machine runs and can do these simple things, that is ok. I know that this computer does not have the advanced MS features of one click changing of the background image, or one click changing of the orientation, or other critical one click hourly tasks, but for $200 I think many people can live without those luxuries.

    Of course, if one needs a second computer that runs specific MS Windows only applications, then buy an MS Windows machine. But in most cases to run such applications, one will not be able to buy the cheapest machine on the market.

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:20AM (#21839292) Journal
    Its so stupid to always look for the cheapest solutions and then say ...lets go with "Linux". If you want a GOOD functional PC with the good stuff in it - running nicely and doing what you want - you'd want a STRONG PC with the good stuff in it, it doesn't really matter if you run Linux or Vista... I can't believe they always tout the cheap pcs with Linux...like Linux where the cheap alternative, it's not the price - its what you want to do with your system, silly! A hardcore PC config will most likely kick major B*TT with Linux (I know it does with mine, and I never went for the cheap stuff as I know what the outcome will be anyway)...even if you ran windows on it. The point is - dont tout Linux with a small system - give it the major system you'd sell as a top notch windows machine - then compare - you do the math, the Linux systems have come a LONG way now - and they're as serious for the Desktop as any Windows (even better on security) would ever be, I know because I've been running both systems for over 10 years now (ok...not vista for 10 years...but windows) side by side, today I'm like using Linux 95 percent of the time...windows for the essential games only, but really...its all about c choice - not the price!
  • Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:21AM (#21839306)
    He does make some valid points however I think it's fundamentally flawed to think any Windows user can adequately review a Linux-based system. Invariably they will try to compare it to things they already know. They will talk about how limited it is because subconsciously they miss all of the Windows apps they know and love. Nothing is in the same place they are used to. A basic frustration sets in and bias ensues. I know this is a generalization but to some degree or another its true in most every review like this you see.

    What's more important to me are reviews where a PC like this is put in front of youngsters or novices. People who don't have preconceived ideas about where things should be and how they should work.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:43AM (#21839550)
    I read the PC review with an open mind because I was curious about how a $200 machine would be. For a 1.5 star rating, I was expecting the review to say things like 'it died' or 'refused to work' or 'it was impossible to install the software that was provided' or something. Instead, the PC criticisms were: 1) "slapped together" (what does that mean), 2)"low-power, relatively low-performing VIA C7-D processor", 3)"the gOS team is working on a modem driver" 4)"the gPC defaulted to 1,280-by-800 resolution", 5)"it has no Energy Star rating" (but used only 50 watts), 6)"programs written for Mac OS X or Windows that you can buy online or in a retail store won't work on the Linux-based gPC", 7)"It would've been nice if the folks at Everex or gOS preinstalled Flash support".

    The article summarizes the above with: "In the end, though, it has so many shortcomings I would have a problem recommending it to anyone." With the possible exception of 2), these are all minor nitpicks and hardly justify a 1.5 star rating. Based on the author's own description of his use of the machine, it should have been given a 3-star rating and that would be marked down from 4-stars because of the low-power processor. PC Magazine feeds on Microsoft to survive and this article shows that.

  • It's rather sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by manifoldronin (827401) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:48AM (#21839606)
    I think it's rather very sad to see the first several replies (i.e. /. readers' knee jerk reaction) so quickly link the low rating to advertisement and, if that's still within stretch, some innuendo on another Microsoft's evil ploy.

    I read TFA. Are all the negative points it brought up real or fair? Of course not. For one thing, I don't like how the author criticizes gPC for not preinstalling the flash player. I believe that was due to licensing limitations.

    On the other hand, I see very valid criticism. For instance, according to TFA, gPC defaults to 1280x800, and will revert back to it after rebooting even if the user manually sets it to 1280x1024. I think that's something inexcusable - defaulting to an inordinary screen resolution, and somehow mysteriously insisting on it.

    My point is - not a novel one at that - if people truly want Linux to be adopted more widely, they should learn not to take criticism the wrong way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by debest (471937)

      I don't like how the author criticizes gPC for not preinstalling the flash player. I believe that was due to licensing limitations.

      Then they should have put in a script that runs the first time the machine is loaded, offering to download and install Flash Player. Or, even better, pay the (I'm sure minimal) amount of money to Adobe to allow it to be pre-installed. Hell, they touted YouTube as a featured use of the computer: Flash is kind of necessary to visit YouTube! To leave a Linux neophyte to install

  • My Kids Like It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dethboy (136650) on Friday December 28, 2007 @11:51AM (#21839644) Homepage
    I got the kids one for Xmas.

    My .05 review:

    gOS sucks. I was about 2 minutes into things and wanted to remove some of the icons from the 'dock'. I right-clicked - hit 'delete' (or maybe remove) and the whole dock disappeared! Ooops. A few more unintuitive things like that and I ended up formatting it and installed Edubuntu. Installing Flash took about 1 minute. Added a few other things TuxPaint, etc and was ready to go.

    Kids are happy!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bcrowell (177657)
      Exactly my experience. gOS was a botch, so I installed vanilla Ubunto over it. My daughter is now happily running Gnome, OOo, and Firefox on her Everex box.
  • by burnin1965 (535071) on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:11PM (#21839922) Homepage
    In the initial paragraph Joel made the point that the "gPC's energy-efficient status is to some extent smoke and mirrors" and I fully expected to see a serious explanation for this conclusion as I know from my own experience that the Via Cx processors are amazingly low power units.

    However, when we get to the rant about power consumption of the system it turns out that the system consumed a peak of 20W to 50W compared to 50W at idle for an HP low power system and 500W to 1KW for some gaming systems. In fact, the only mention of any "nit pick" which might suggest reasoning for the smoke and mirrors conclusion is due to the fact that "it has no Energy Star rating or EPEAT certification". So the box as tested uses less power than any other system he has tested and yet he calls the energy efficiency status smoke and mirrors because it doesn't have a sticker? Perhaps its this review that is smoke and mirrors.

    And if that were not enough he knocks the PC for not running Windows apps when he already acknowledged that the purpose of the box was for basic web surfing. And he complains that a user will require "a lot of time to learn the basic nuances of Linux", I'm assuming because of the comment about viewing the Flash plugin downloads in .tar.gz and .rpm format, to install a firefox plugin when in fact he installed the plugin through firefox as would a Windows or OSX user.

    Joel did have a couple of valid points, i.e. the documentation explaining the requirement for broadband internet and an ethernet cable but showing a modem and modem cable in the diagrams, or the idea of reusing an older PC by installing linux as a greener solution. But overall what could have been a solid review of the gPC is overwhelmed by inaccuracies, expectations outside the specifications of the $200 box, and exagerated claims of failure to meet claimed specifications.

    I'd give this review 1.5 stars but then I'd say its really not even worth mentioning.
  • by qazwart (261667) on Friday December 28, 2007 @12:36PM (#21840214) Homepage
    The comments on Walmart's site were rather interesting. Many people gave this a five star rating, but those people also mentioned that they knew Linux, were upgrading the hardware on this computer, and seemed to be very tech savvy.

    Then there were the one star raters. These people talked about how cheap the PC was, and couldn't understand why it couldn't run their other software. They found the desktop confusing and the programs it came with overly complex.

    It appears that this was a thrown together piece of cheap hardware. However, those who were tech savvy viewed this as a bargain of computer parts. A little tweaking -- better keyboard, more memory, more diskspace, etc., and you had a fairly cheap Linux machine. The rest were typical computer customers who bought it because it was only $200. They found it sloppily put together, cheap and unusable components, and a confusing OS. These people didn't have the time, energy, nor technical skills to tweak this computer to make it usable.

    This computer was an interesting experiment, and we'll see many more in the years to come. There's no way companies can sell $200 computers while buying a Windows license. Something is going have to give. You're going to see a lot more Linux computers for the masses before the end of next year. Someone is going to get it right.
  • by YetAnotherBob (988800) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:19PM (#21841324)
    What this system really lacks, from what I have read, (I haven't really bought or even used one.) is synaptic, and a quick link to a Debian repository. Then the Author could get whatever he wanted. Firefox/Iceweasel, games like Freeciv, Westnoth, whatever. He could get his fill of ofice type apps too.

    For the specs I've seen Abi or Koffice might be a better choice than Open Office, the specs for the machine are minimal. If I had one of these machines the first thing I'd do is add memory. It's still slow, but would at least run some interesting stuff.

    Still, it is a nice first stab at a decent low end home machine. I can remember being happy with my old K6 300. This thing has better specs than that. You just have to be choosy in what you run.
  • To say it all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:46PM (#21841578)
    To say it all, clearly the guy is trying to sell Vista for Microsoft. He really has no valid complaint, but since PC mag makes money from Microsoft for Vista advertising his review of the product (which has gotten very good reviews all around) he's dumping on it.

    I'd say he has no leg to stand on. I wouldn't doubt that he simply made up a list of what was wrong from what he read, glanced at the box, and then published his list.

    He is selling Vista for Microsoft, he's not writing reviews. His words are baseless, they have little value, other reviews show he's off the mark. He forgets that we all know that a $199 computer wasn't meant for high end use. This product performs. It is sweet. The software is more than magic. He's just griping because it is a huge seller, very popular, and it has linux instead of Vista.
  • Classic Quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vondo (303621) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:13PM (#21841844)
    He claims it's too slow "even in the out-of-box state when a PC is expected to be at its fastest." Which just shows an incredible Windows bias. Someone should hit him several times with a clue stick screaming "Real operating systems don't slow down just because you use them or install software!"

    That said, I have basically this machine (built from scratch). I use it for a file server. I might consider something like this as a terminal in my kitchen, but I'd never suggest anyone use one as their main machine unless they really can't afford something more.
  • by bigdavex (155746) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:28PM (#21841952)
    That's only $133 per star. Sounds pretty good to me.
  • by irchans (527097) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:12PM (#21842350)
    I have never used Linux before, but I did use Unix on Sun workstations for a little while in the 90's. I own about 10 windows based computers.

    Here are my comments on the Walmart computer.

    Good
    - Cheap! $200.
    - Very Quiet!
    - Seems stable.
    - Comes with lots of installed software: Word Processor, Photo Editing, Spreadsheet, a PDF viewer, FireFox, ....

    Bad
    - Somewhat slow (which I had expected.)
    - I think that it will take me a long time to get used to GOS (Linux?), but my kids are doing fine with it. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to change the screen resolution. There are icons that I can't seem to get rid of, but I haven't tried too much.
    - The little documentation that came with the machine was not 100% correct.

    Overall: Seems like a great cheap computer for the kids and it may even be good for surfing the Web and learning about computers in general.

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