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Cheap laptops still MIA

Cheap laptops still MIA

Every story that crosses our desk about ultra-cheap laptops--from the $100 OLPC schoolkid special, to the $150 Medison Celebrity from Sweden, to the $200 Asus Eee (for that price, you only get one letter)--generates a tremendous amount of buzz, not to mention more than its fair share of blog posts.

The delayed Asus Eee

Of course, getting any of these systems actually in our greedy little hands is another matter entirely. The One Laptop Per Child project is still struggling to get (now $200) OLPC systems into the hands of kids, turning to a new plan--instead of getting governments, corporations or charitable groups to fund these laptops, the general public can now buy one for themselves and sponsor one for a child in a developing nation. That program doesn't start until mid-November, so even those willing to pay $400 for the $100 OLPC laptop won't have one anytime soon.

The mysterious $150 Medison Celebrity, from a PC maker in Sweden, has gotten a lot of coverage for something that is essentially vaporware. Matt Elliott placed his orderback in July, but so far (as I predicted) neither he, nor any member of the public or press have gotten their systems, despite a series of bizarre statements from the company and various other shadiness.

Is this the mysterious Medison Celebrity?

Our last hope for a low-cost laptop was the Asus Eee, from Taiwan. We've generally liked Asus' systems in the past, but this $200 2-pound, 7-inch, Linux-based laptop is nowhere to be found, outside of a few trade show appearances. The street date has gone from September to early October, and now, the date has been moved back to mid-November (or very late October, if you give Asus the benefit of the doubt), around the same time as the new OLPC two-for-one program starts.

None of this means we'll stop searching for the holy grail of an inexpensive, functional laptop--but like some crypto-mythological creature (such as Bigfoot or the chupacabra), they're always tantalizingly out of reach.