Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Alpha 400: the most inexpensive laptop ever?

World's cheapest Linux-based laptop?
A Hong Kong-based manufacturer is shipping a Linux-based ultra-mini PC (UMPC) laptop for only $250 ($180 in volume), which appears to give it the lowest price yet for a Linux laptop. Bestlink's Alpha 400 offers a 400MHz CPU and a 7-inch, truecolor display.

The Alpha 400 is based on a 32-bit XBurst CPU from Ingenic Semiconductors clocked to 400MHz. Based on an "industry standard" RISC-based architecture (possibly MIPS?) the chip reportedly runs Windows CE as well as Linux. It also uses SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) instructions to accelerate media performance, and uses an "xburst" pipeline. Fabbed on 0.18-micron technology, it boasts low power requirements and a small footprint, Ingenic claims.

The Bestlink Alpha comes with 128MB RAM and 1-2GB of internal flash. Storage options including 32GB of memory via the provided SD card slot, as well as a USB-attached hard drive with up to 160GB. The 7-inch TFT "truecolor" (typically 24-bit) screen offers 800 x 480 resolution, says Bestlink.

Broadband Internet access is available via an Ethernet port or an optional WiFi dongle for one of the two external USB ports. Other USB-based options include GPRS, CDMA, and ADSL, and there are also earphone and mic jacks and a mouse port. The 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inch laptop weighs only 1.5 pounds and is available in six colors. [...]

You can follow the link for more info. It's amazingly inexpensive, I wouldn't rush to buy one, I'd like to hear more about the quality first. If there are any reviews forthcoming I'll post them.


Maria del Mar Palomares Marin said...

Hi, I want to buy this mini-pc. But i want to know if somebody buy this, because i did some question to bestlink about this computer and they didn't answer me yet... i don't know if i can trush in then... What do you think about this? Please, if you buy this cheap mini-pc, i'm very intersting about your experience.

Chas said...

I wasn't planning on buying this one, at least not at this time. I publish posts about these kinds of devices because I find them interesting, but I prefer to buy a computer locally, so I can look at it first and ask questions at the store, and because I can take it back to the store if there is a problem.

When the price is low and it comes only from an overseas company, it's hard to tell if it's junk or not. If you don't like taking risks, I would wait for some reviews and see what happens to other people who buy it first, and see what they say about it.

There are also a slew of these kinds of laptops that are coming onto the market worldwide. You may be able to find something similar offered in your own country, if not now, maybe soon. Be on the lookout.

Drohnwerks said...

In the UK this is (or something very similar) being sold as an Elonex Onet...

Will let you know when mine arrives - fingers crossed it comes with more than 128 MB RAM

sieler said...

Wondering if anyone can tell me what voltage the A/C adapter should supply.

The DC input jack isn't labelled for voltage :(

(No, mine didn't come with an A/C adapter ;)



Chas said...

I did this post because I'm a Linux fan, but I don't actually own one of these. Perhaps someone else will answer your question. But I am guessing this is pretty out of date.

sieler said...


9v. It's labelled elsewhere on the netbook.

I found a compatible adapter, powered up my netbook, and was disappointed to see that the screen was broken (about 1/2 oscured/non-functional), and continually flickering. Essentially unusable, except as a parts machine.

@Chas: yes, but sometimes posts on old threads work (often because people who posted are still getting email
updates on their question/post :)



Chas said...

Yes, I understand, sometimes old post are the only source of information as machines age. That's sad about the screen not working right. Unless there is a way to somehow attach an external monitor, there probably isn't more you can do. As you said, only good for parts now.