So criticizing the famous and now delayed Everex Cloudbook has been an unpopular decision. Heh, I guess it was just unpopular to go public with my opinion and making it even a little on Digg didn’t help. So in all fairness I think I should review the Cloudbook again in light of what everyone has mentioned. Before reading any further though, my kind readers need to understand that the point of MuddyGeek is to examine technology, open source, and environmentalism individually as well as how they may interact. For example, I may look at why a new solar powered building is very interesting from a technical perspective such as how researchers have made it thinner or more efficient. Or else I can look at the same building for its aesthetics and very noticeable stance on the environment. Not everything here is about cool technology. Something can be awesome from a geek perspective but environmentally detrimental nonetheless.
All that said, clarified, and finished… I would like to cover the Cloudbook completely like no one else has yet…
The Everex Cloudbook is $400 ultra portable-ultra mobile notebook running gOS Linux (gOS for Good OS but g can also be for green as these utilize low voltage processors and g for Google for their bundled apps). I am going to examine why the Cloudbook simply doesn’t matter and why it is a mistake for Everex to pursue.
This is Everex’s attack on the a couple markets. First, its going after the ultra portable niche market where the Asus Eee resides. These devices more commonly seen as the abbreviation UMPC are low appeal for most consumers. Why they are small and light, they also lack the functionality that a full size slightly more expensive notebook offers. The 7 inch screen is certainly going to sip power compared to the behemoth 17 inch notebooks many consumers flock after now. A 7 inch screen is also going to be harder on the eyes for many older folks thus losing its appeal to one group. My other big problem here is that the CPU and RAM combination. The processor is a nice Via C7-M which is about as easy on the battery as it’ll come for 1.2 GHz. Its still underpowered for most Linux distros today and gOS won’t be an exception for long. Maybe this would be okay with more RAM but the unit comes with 512 MB and it can only be upgraded to 1 GB. A basic Sempron or Celeron would have afforded better performance even if cutting down battery life slightly. Heck, throw in a ultra low voltage Core 2 Duo and see it fly.
Looking for a new system? Time to upgrade? Skip the Microsoft Tax and buy Linux preloaded. Often the most difficult part of buying a new computer is finding reputable companies that sell Linux based systems. Even then, some still buy Windows systems, wipe them, and load Linux (thereby still buying a Windows system and paying Microsoft).
Why does it matter? For starters, if you don’t want to use Windows then don’t you shouldn’t have to pay for it let alone buy it. Very very few computer manufacturers are going to refund you the famed Microsoft Tax now. Many have EULAs that state you are buying the computer and preloaded software together. They go on to say that if you refuse the software to return it the whole unit for a full refund and that the software is not specifically eligible for a refund.
Another good reason for buying Linux preloaded? It tells the computer companies that people want Linux. Big names Dell and Lenovo started offering Linux options only after enough people petitioned. Now it entirely lies upon enough people buying these computers for the manufacturers to keep offering them and eventually pushing/advertising them.
I think it is entirely critical for Linux to get it preloaded and out there for consumers. I don’t believe in the Year of Linux or any such nonsense. I do believe there can be a year when Linux dies and I don’t want to see that. I believe the future of Linux relies on taking over the desktop now with all the bad press that Vista has.
So finally, I present the preloaded Linux options. This isn’t a review per se, only a listing of the computer manufacturers selling Linux preloaded.
The newcomer gOS is coming to an ultra portable notebook near you soon. Maybe. Someday. Everex, who started and sponsors gOS, did finally officially announce their gOS based notebook. Specs look decent with a Via 1.2 GHz low voltage processor, 512 MB RAM, 30 GB HDD, USB 2.0, and DVI output. What’s really cool is the developers’ version. That version gets a touch screen. Man, those developers get all the cool stuff.
Apparently, the Cloudbook version 2 which isn’t even announced yet will probably have touchscreen standard. Afterall, why mess with it on a developers’ version and not include it later?
Oh, did I mention the 7 inch screen? Talk about portable. Imagine the battery life! And to ice the cake, its touting a reported $400 price tag. Finally, ultra portable and ultra affordable. (I didn’t just say that, did I?)
Expect to see the Cloudbook at Consumer Electronic Show. In the meantime, Linux Devices has a little more information on it. Linux Devices was first with the story and supposedly they have an inside source who leaked the information. We’ll see how this goes.
UPDATE! January 3, 2008
Apparently this little notebook isn’t quite the innovation that Everex would have us all believe. UMPCPortal reviewed a Packard Bell Easynote XS in mid 2007. It certainly has a striking resemblance to the Everex Cloudbook, doesn’t it? The only difference that I can discern relates to the OS. Easynote runs Windows XP while Cloudbook while definitely ship with Linux. Definitely check out UMPCPortal though as they have a gallery of the notebook in action and a video demonstrating it.
My one final thought on this whole ordeal for now… Why does this even matter so much to so many geeks out there? Yeah, Linux is good and I want to see it grow but what’s passed that? I have read numerous opinions that this will give the Asus Eee a run for its money. I’m not sure anyone really even cares. These are fringe notebooks. The typical buyer is after a 15″ or 17″ laptop (or desktop replacement). If Everex wants to make a huge splash, then they need to release a powerful, inexpensive Linux based 17″ laptop. After that, Wal-Mart may be fine but they have to get into Circuit City, Best Buy, Staples, and wherever else people shop for good computers.
Wow, another Ubuntu derivative. gOS just showed up out of the blue on a $200 Everex Wal-Mart special. The only attention getter there was Wal-Mart selling Linux again. No matter. gOS is pretty using Enlightenment with Google enhancements all based on Ubuntu. I’m giving it a try shortly.
UPDATE 11/14/07: I’ve been playing with gOS and slowly figuring it out. Since its still Ubuntu I was able to enable default repositories and download all my regular packages plus some healthy updates. I’ve noticed they have a different repo included for the Google toolbar and I’m searching through it for me info. In the next day or two, I should have a How To up for making your Ubuntu system all slick and shiny.