Last week we (and just about everyone else) wrote about Skytone’s $100 Android-powered netbook, the Alpha 680.
As the first device running Android, it was guaranteed to get us excited. However, world and dog were all too quick to point out that it wasn’t exactly impressive. That said, for $100, it wasn’t too bad. At the very least, your hundred bucks would get you an Android-based netbook you could tinker with and not feel like you were wasting money you didn’t have.
Over the weekend, a new price started to get around and it seems that the rumored pricetag of just $100 was too good to be true -- about $150 too good. That’s right, according to an in-depth interview with Skytone over on Computerworld, the device will be more like $250. Nixon Wu, Skytone's co-founder said that as volume ramps up, the company hopes for that price to drop. Let’s not mince words, $150 is a big jump, so where did that first figure come from?
It's hard to say. As far as we can tell, the company was aiming to make a $100 netbook, but didn't quite get there. Wu says that the company took direction from Wal-Mart, which pointed them in the direction of the low-cost PC business back in 2006.
"They were looking for ways to build a $100 PC. We had expertise in porting Linux to embedded systems, and so they found us," Wu told Computerworld. "At the end of the day, we couldn't meet Wal-Mart's target, but we continued on this path anyway."
Alright, so it’s 2.5 times the price, you say, but are there any more let downs in store? Well, yeah. The Alpha 680 is definitely ultra-portable. Weighing in at about 1.5 lbs and measuring 8.5 inches long, 6 inches wide and 1.2 inches thick it’s smaller than the EeePC. Last week’s reports of an 800 x 480 7-inch LCD, 128 MB DDR2 (up to 256 MB Optional), 1 GB SSD (up to 4 GB Optional), WiFi and an ARM11 533 MHz 32-bit CPU were true. The part about the touchscreen wasn’t, it seems. While the 680 is not a tablet computer (despite what the pictures on Skytone's website tell us), the Alpha 700, a 1024 x 600 8.9-inch PC with a 500 MHz MIPS processor, and 2 GB SSD drive, is. The tablet will cost between $200 and $250, said Wu.
At the end of the day, this sounds like a bum deal. The only reason we can see anyone paying $250 for an ARM power, 800 x 480 7-inch netbook, with 128 MB DDR2 and a 1 GB SSD is if they really can’t wait to get their hands on Android to mess around with the OS. That aside, I’d invest the extra cash and get an Eee PC or an Aspire One (or less cash in the case of a Mini 9). What do you guys think? All things considered, would you pay $250 for this piece of kit?