Saturday, May 15, 2010

South Africa's Linux Device: The "Linkbook"

South African netbook runs Ubuntu Linux
South Africa-based mobile provider Vodacom has begun selling an Ubuntu Linux based netbook. The Linkbook, which was developed by a South African company of the same name, is equipped with 16GB of flash storage, HSDPA, WiFi, two USB ports, and an 8.9-inch display, says Vodacom.

The Linkbook is being offered for 199 Rand (R199), or about $26 a month with a two-year contract. This appears to include all data charges, however, including a 300MB data bundle. According to Vodacom, the hardware costs in the package represent only about a fifth of the total cost.

Customized for South Africa, the netbook ships with links to popular local online content and e-commerce websites. The Vodacom release suggests that the company plans to eventually roll the Linkbook out in other countries in its Pan-African network.


As is typical in most reviews of low-cost netbooks, TechCentral's judgment was mixed. Particular problems included a cramped QWERTY keyboard, a fairly unresponsive touchpad, and a battery that lasts only two hours -- and that's with WiFi and 3G turned off, says the review.

On the plus side, 3G connectivity was fast and consistent, says TechCentral. While the highly customized version of Ubuntu appeared to the reviewer to be using the aging Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04) release, the software selections and interface were generally given high marks. In the end, the review concludes "for the price, though, it's difficult to be too hard on the Linkbook."

According to Vodacom, PC ownership is still fairly rare in South Africa, although PCs are widely used in the business realm. In South Africa, the Linkbook will be going up against another Ubuntu-based netbook, the Intel Atom-based Simmtronics Simmbook [...]

Read the whole article for more details, and a link to the Linkbook website.

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