Small Cheap Computers Walmart Is Pushing

I received an ad from Walmart:
Walmart_ad_pre-Black_Friday_20131125 Interesting features of the ad are that

  • 3 of the 4 PCs being pushed are not that other OS,
  • the “first” two (on the left) are ChromeBooks ($230 and $248), and
  • the last of the 4 is an Android/Linux tablet ($69).

So, you are a consumer itching to spend money. How do they stack up?

Feature Samsung Chromebook Acer Chromebook HP Notebook Nextbook Tablet
Screen diagonal 11.6″ 11.6″ 15.6″ 7″
CPU ARM Exynos 5 Dual 1.70 GHz Intel Celeron 847 2.0 GHz AMD E-300 1.3 GHz peak 3.20 GHz ARM Cortex A9 1.0gHz
RAM 6gB 6gB 4gB 1gB
Battery life 6h 3.5h 4h 5h
Price $248 $230 $298 $69
Storage 16gB 16gB 320gB 6gB
Weight 4.1 lb 4.1 lb 7.3 lb 1.6 lb

So, are you going to pay extra for screen size, weight, storage, a bit faster idling CPU and that other OS or are you going to buy a real small cheap computer? I think the price/performance comparisons give the answer. If you want extreme mobility, go with the tablet. You could even buy a bunch and give them to friends or leave one at each of your locations so that you don’t even have to carry anything around. If you want good mobility, go with the Chromebooks. Take your pick. If you want to be a slave to Wintel and lug a brick around all day, go with the most expensive and not smallest computer. Given a bunch of choices some will take one choice or another. The bottom line is that a very small fraction of consumers will choose Wintel this winter.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to Small Cheap Computers Walmart Is Pushing

  1. dougman says:

    I carry my Samsung S4 and my Chromebook exclusively now and yes, I do find them both VERY useful thank you.

    Them Surface things, they get malware, viruses, break easy and overheat.

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surf2-surfhardware/surface-2-overheating/d9e28f40-e584-4f20-a0fd-42847334d6d5?page=1

    Go ahead and buy one I don’t care, the only reason the M$ trolls come here is they make a living off Windows.

  2. DrLoser wrote, “you don’t ever once do anything useful with it, do you?”

    Define “useful”. One can reasonably argue that no consumer needs the power of an IBM mainframe from the 1960s in their shirt-pocket but hundreds of millions do have that. One can also argue that e-mail, browsing, photography and music are not useful but this is the 21st century and these things are consumer-electronics like the pocket calculator of the last century, kind of a necessity in the real world.

    So, DrLoser is arguing about some imaginary extreme instead of the norm, that folks take IT for granted these days and any IT is preferable to none at all and OEMs and retailers are selling what consumers want with the new gadgets.

    Perhaps he means business/gainful employment as “useful”. Even then, I have dealt with many businesses over the years and many of the front-line folks, like my bank-manager need only a tablet with keyboard attached to do “useful” stuff. So, he’s largely missing the point. The world has turned and left his point of view behind. BTW, if you want to spend $50 or more extra to do stuff, get an aircraft-carrier-grade keyboard like mine, still clicking as it did 9 years ago. You can pay ~$70-$150 for a great keyboard rather than that other OS and have something truly useful. Today, a lot of consumers are content to send e-mail with their thumbs and create great art with a digital camera built in to their gadget. Even a good keyboard is not necessary to do useful stuff.

    In may parts of the world, “useful” is merely finding out what’s going on in the world: the price of corn or the departure time of the bus. It would be silly to pay more than the device is worth to get that when you can get it for much less with FLOSS and ARMed stuff.

  3. DrLoser says:

    My Samsung lasts almost 10+ hours. I LOL at people that buy Surface tablets, and somehow think they are getting the better deal.

    Yeah, but the thing is, Dougie, you don’t ever once do anything useful with it, do you?

    That’s why normal people shuck up the $50 more.

    In your particular line of selling snake oil, you might as well be carrying a brick around for all the difference it makes to the rubes you rip off.

  4. DrLoser says:

    If you want to be a slave to Wintel and lug a brick around all day, go with the most expensive and not smallest computer.

    Preaching to the choir again, are we, Robert? First things first. The price differential is $50. Damn that Microsoft Tax!

    Concerning bricks, however. Checking this up on the internet, the average household brick weighs between 4lb and 6lb. I suspect that the average consumer, being non-brick-aware, would probably accept an extra pound for the HP item. Possibly the average consumer has morphed into an Eloi and is unable to cart around even a Chromebook (at the bottom end of the weight range) without breaking their spindly appendages.

    Not, I suggest, a particularly viable marketing proposition.

    Now then. What you get for that $50 is an OS that practically everybody understands. Not some farcical lo-cal Linux desktop. But let’s discount that, because it’s all to do with shelf-stuffing and bribery and whatever, and a clued-in consumer would just go for value and HP will be forced to sell this item with Linux pre-installed.

    A fascinating, yet flawed, concept. Thing is, the OS essentially comes for free on this one.

    Plus, you get twenty times the storage, more RAM than you can shake a pointy stick at (and what the heck would you need 6GB of RAM on a Chromebook for? Jeepers, that’s insane for a mobile browser device!) and, um, a screen you can actually read.

    We both have declining eyesight, Robert. I think we can both agree that spending $50 for a 15″ screen is worth it.

    We can pave it over with our favourite Linux desktop distro later. But that 15″ will still be there.

  5. dougman says:

    My Samsung lasts almost 10+ hours. I LOL at people that buy Surface tablets, and somehow think they are getting the better deal.

  6. ram wrote, “If you ever had to lug around a laptop computer for business (even if it is running Linux) the weight and the short battery life really really gets to be annoying.”

    I used to lug around Beast and a box of thin clients, so I appreciate the sentiment. One thing I saw repeatedly as a teacher in the North was various consultants visiting us and giving presentations. Typically, the consultant was a 120 lb woman carrying a box of hand-out sheets and a shoulder case bearing a projector, a big notebook PC, and a charging unit and some cables. Often we big lugs would help them out but they must surely be using tablets these days. Rarely did they have to type anything. That was all done at HQ. They just needed something that could display documents and images and respond to clicks… Imagine replacing 5 lb of notebook plus 1 lb of charger with 2 lb of tablet and perhaps some USB thingy. I could see the weight of Wintel being lifted from their shoulders.

  7. oe says:

    Plus being Secureboot(less) free they are pretty easy to convert over to GNU/Linux distro’s

  8. ram says:

    If you ever had to lug around a laptop computer for business (even if it is running Linux) the weight and the short battery life really really gets to be annoying. It is quite clear why Chromebooks and Linux Tablets are moving like hotcakes. Less weight, less cost, and more battery life.

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