CherryPal desktop has friendly $249 price tag

The CherryPal is a tiny piece of hardware that's almost entirely dependent on data kept in the cloud, and it consumes a minimal amount of power.

CherryPal
A view of the new CherryPal from the back CherryPal

The CherryPal is a small, black, rectangular box with not much inside.

Besides a processor, some flash memory, and some connecting parts, it's definitely not the kind of computer you'd see heavyweights like Hewlett-Packard and Dell waving around. But Max Seybold, the creator and CEO of CherryPal says this barebones PC is the future.

Yes, we've been hearing for a while now that cloud computing and the browser are the next iteration of the desktop OS, but Seybold is betting big on it.

The CherryPal--so named because one early tester declared the device "sweeter than an Apple"--is a tiny desktop PC. It's about the size of a paperback book and weighs 10 ounces. Because of its lack of moving parts (there's only 256MB of memory and a 4GB flash drive inside; the rest of your data is meant to be kept in the cloud), it should be fairly durable.

The other major benefit of that is it sucks a very low amount of power, 2 watts max, Seybold says. It has a Freescale 5121E processor and integrated graphics, which helps out with lower power consumption.

But even more helpful is the lack of an operating system on the device. There is an embedded form of Debian Linux, but Seybold says the user isn't exposed to it. The main operating system is a Firefox browser window.

It comes with free cloud-based storage and free 24-hour tech support. Hardware-wise, there's not a lot to the CherryPal, but the price reflects that: it will be available starting Monday for $249 on the company's Web site, and in September via Amazon.com.

The Amazon availability reflects the company's ambition. Seybold says he sees his target market as students ages 14 to 25, who he says "are already used to putting their information in the cloud" via Facebook, MySpace, and similar kinds of sites.

Downplaying Linux is another way Seybold hopes to reach the mass market. There's a perception that Linux is hard to use and is somewhat of a drawback, he said. "And to some degree, the market is right."

The closest competition is the Eee Box from Asus , and other low-power Linux-based desktops, which have cleared the way for devices like the CherryPal.

"The great thing is you have Netboxes (and) Netbooks, so there's a lot of awareness in the market, and (it shows) there is a market for computers that aren't Windows or Apple," said Seybold. "The sales numbers for Asus are very, very, encouraging."

About the author

Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur. E-mail Erica.

 

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