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Another low-cost Linux laptop gets a price hike

The Asus Eee PC is reportedly coming closer to being released, but the price is moving further away from the original $199 target.

I wrote recently (here) about the One Laptop Per Child project's plan to begin selling the XO laptop in a special one-for-two deal: buyers pay $400 for two, receive one, and get a tax deduction for the other, which is then delivered to a child in a developing nation.

OLPC XO laptop
This is the B1 version of the OLPC laptop. Mike McGregor (

As I said, I think that's a good deal--the XO is likely to be a pretty interesting machine, even though its price is twice its original $100 target, and battery life isn't likely to live up to OLPC's original projections (I covered that issue here and here).

Another low-cost Linux-based laptop that you'll soon be able to buy is the Eee PC from Asus. Pricing for this machine, originally expected to start at $199, is now rumored to begin at $260 when the machine goes on sale later this month, with high-end models coming in around $400.

These prices are reasonably appropriate, given the Eee PC's better performance vs. the XO--a 900-MHz modern Intel processor vs. the older technology of an AMD Geode at 433 MHz. However, the two machines are generally similar in other ways, and the XO will have the advantage for some users of a sunlight-readable display (although it is monochrome only in this mode).

Anyway, I think there's room for both systems in the market, and it'll be interesting to watch them compete for the hearts and minds of educational and open-source software developers.

I intend to get one of each for myself, and of course, I'll post here when I'm able to do that.

[Update 2007-10-02 1330: Reader "hitman247" points out in the comments that the price hikes in the XO and Eee PC don't solely reflect cost increases by the manufacturers; the drop in the value of the US dollar on international markets must play a significant part. As I alluded to in a reply, I've been wondering if I shouldn't accelerate my plan to buy a new BMW next year to replace my 1999-model year 540i. And then, just today, the Wall Street Journal published an article on this very topic (see Google News for the link). So whatever else happens, it may get temporarily more difficult to hit any price point for a new laptop, car, or whatever.]