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And a cupholder too...

Lindows is trying to package another computer without hard drive or floppy that just connects to the Internet as a web browser machine.

I thought the industry had learned that lesson.  Many others have tried it and failed.  Why would this be any different?

I think the reason is that people don't want 'specialty' computers.  When they buy a computer, they want as many features as possible, web browsing, word processing, web page writing, games, DVD, CDRW, and a cupholder too.

I think the same can be said for operating systems.  A kernel isn't enough anymore.  You've got to package pretty GUI options, games, at least basic word processing, built in CD burning, to make it happen.

Specialty systems would work if they were $19.99, and the size of a small notebook.  Lindows makes it attractive at $180, but I still wouldn't think people will go for it.

Am I wrong?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I've always thought the idea of "appliance" computers to be misguided. The beauty of computers (ever since ENIAC, really) is that they are general-purpose, not special-purpose, machines.

Limiting yourself to a small subset of scenarios for a few hundred dollars of savings is not worth it to enough people to make the idea successful.

Certainly there are those who are on a tight budget and just want to send mail and surf the internet, but they are not as large a segment of consumers as companies like Sun (did they finally stop pushing the NC?) seem to think.

Mike Treit
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

In order for this to work, in my opinion, it would have to be something that I can affordably install one in each room.  Affordable is relative, but if I could set one up in the living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and the washroom for $500, (which comes out to $100 per unit) I'd go for it in a second.  I also think that wireless is key so I can move them around easily if I want.

If they can easily be setup to access my PCs drives over the network, that would be even better.

Oren Miller
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I think it's good for a niche markets: it could be good in a public library, for example; another example is the local government employment centre, which has 'internet kiosks' for people who don't have their own computers and who want to browse the job ass which are posted online.

If it did email as well as Web browsing then it could be useful to home users like my Mum.

Christopher Wells
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Well the Lindows web station is not the machine for me.

$169, no display, and it boots from an internal CD-ROM.

I was always interested in the Netpliance machines that were so hackable, but unfortunately I could never find any in stock before they bellied up

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Noticed this feature on the site:

"Absolutely immune to viruses"

With no hard drive or writeable media, I guess you can't argue with that one too much :).

Also, they say it includes an MS compatible office suite.  But with no storage, where do you put the documents you make?

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I'd wager a guess that there's a RAM disk in play.

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

You probably use the MS compatible suit to read, not create documents.  Lots of email has .doc and .xls attachments.  If I couldn't view those, that would be a big negative.

Oren Miller
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Well thinking of it as a computer is a mistake, that's not how it should be sold.  The major problem all these kinds of products have is the low price you need to hit in retail in order to get underneath the bottom end computer market.

Ease of use and out of the box experience is all very well but if for a few pounds/dollars more you can have a fully equipped computer for Johnny, Johnny is going to get the computer.

On the other hand stuffing browsers and user installable applets into things like phones is a different kettle of fish, that's where the growth is.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I can see this being a good option for internet kiosks and such because of the "unbreakable" nature of it.  That is, if it in fact has no hard drive (some of the wording on the page is questionable, it mentions playing online games, saving documents, and viewing media)

I don't see it as a good alternative for the home, for one big reason that no "network PC" has been able to work around: the display.  Let's face it, a TV is not really a suitable display for a computer.  And once you add in a monitor to that price, it approaches low-end Dell systems that are far more capable.  If they were offering a system like this in a laptop form factor, I could definitely see a use for that.  But this is basically just a computer with no hard drive, that isn't really much cost savings given hard drive prices these days.

It might be useful in a few situations, running as a thin client for network storage, etc.  But otherwise it doesn't seem like a product the market demands

Mike McNertney
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I just looked at the online retailer, and a hard drive is an option. Basically, it's a full-fledged PC, but with almost nothing in it by default. You can crank up the RAM to 1GB, speed up the processor, add a hard drive, convert the CD-ROM drive into a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive, etc.

That must be what they mean about reading/writing documents. You use the hard drive solely as a document storage system (apparently, you can't use Click-N-Run to download new software for it: you're stuck with what they could fit onto a single CD-ROM).

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

If such a device has any future, it will enter by stealth, either as a games machine or set top box for Cable or Sattelite.

Nobody is going to deliberately go out and buy something that is so limited.

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Especially with competition from x-box & playstation like appliances that should start shipping with web-tv style browser / internet access interfaces, hard drives, TIVO like capabilities, and DVD burners in the near future.

The new PS2 with all of the above (well... maybe not web tv) should start shipping next year, and it's going to be in the same price range.

Sorry, but to make something like an internet-only box attractive, it would have to be REALLY cheap. I mean.. I could get a television & DVD player for that much money.

Oh yeah, and it wouldn't hurt if it was a television and DVD player. Too many people have this "if you build it, they will come" mentality without really understanding the marketplace.

The only people this is attractive to is people who still don't have a computer and want to get online... at a minimum it should have a browser, instant messaging (a-la trillian) and cost... I dunno... $50, with $10/mo internet access.

Then at least they could e-mail their friends and IM them... and though they couldn't do anything else with it... they wouldn't be more tempted to by the new PS2.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

"Nobody is going to deliberately go out and buy something that is so limited."

Actually they will. My VCR, washingmachine, microwave, wristwatch, each one probably has more computingpower now than my first PC back in the early eighties. But look how primitive they are! They only perform one specific function!

The lindows machine has it's own target client base and probably won't find any of them in this forum but that does not mean it does not exist. It would actually be great for my grandmother, the cleaning lady, the plumber, etc.

If you stop seeing it as a computer and stop seeing the internet as something you have to access with a "computer" but as something like a utility service as water and electricity that can be used by all kinds of appliances for kinds of purposes, it makes perfect sense.

Geert-Jan Thomas
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Geert - that reminds me of Steve Case's dream of an "AOL Dial Tone" and AOL appliances you can plug in and use as a phone.

The problem I see with this is that it's such a crowded marketplace... You can get a Dell for $500 or $15 a month. And as I mentioned, the new PSX is gonna have some pretty neat features:

"Dubbed the "PSX," it will combine the PS2's existing game-playing capabilities with a TV tuner, 120 gigabytes of hard drive space, a DVD-RW drive, and broadband Internet connection hardware to create a more well-rounded and capable media playing device."

"The PSX will be able to play games, play DVD movies, record television programs, download media from the Internet, record content to homemade CDs and DVDs, access photos and other data via a Memory Stick slot, and attach other peripherals through built-in USB 2.0 ports."

Tell me again why I'd want to buy this thing? Ok, my grandmother maybe, but with video games being a bigger industry than the movie industry, it seems to me that more and more people will be surfing the web on their TV's.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I don't think this product really competes against PSX type appliances.  The PSX seems to be more for early adopter types, while the Web appliance PC is more for late adopters who only want to e-mail people and maybe find movie listings, and that's it.

I don't know about the surfing the web with the TV thing.  It seems like that was already tried and it didn't pan out.  Who wants a keyboard in their living room?  You can't really do basic things like e-mail and online shopping at most sites without a keyboard.  And what if you're watching a TV show while someone needs to check their e-mail?

Also, I don't think the video game industry is really bigger than the movie industry.  I work in the video game industry and people are always saying that.  But then they admit that they're only talking about BOX OFFICE revenues for the movie industry.  I think any comparison of the two industries would rightly include rentals (which has surely grown in proportion as a source of revenue).  I'm sure that the movie industry trounces the video game industry in that department.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

For your grandmother something like the Amstrads Emailer plus is far more desirable ( ).  It comes with a screen and takes up far less space in the corner.

However, this has failed to.

Thinking on it, I can see the attraction of this Lindows  Webstation for schools, universities, libraries.  I just can't see much demand for it in the home.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

>>The lindows machine has it's own target client base and >>probably won't find any of them in this forum but that does >>not mean it does not exist. It would actually be great for my >>grandmother, the cleaning lady, the plumber, etc.

>>If you stop seeing it as a computer and stop seeing the >>internet as something you have to access with a >>"computer" but as something like a utility service as water >>and electricity that can be used by all kinds of appliances for >>kinds of purposes, it makes perfect sense.

It only makes "perfect sense" to the people trying to sell these machines.  That's why every "internet appliance" has failed miserably.

Maytag Repairman
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Geert, the problem with comparing this to a household appliance is that most appliances don't have to compete with something that can do their same job, plus a lot more, but is only marginally more expensive.

It's not the idea that I see as necessarily flawed.  It's that I don't think the number of people who are willing to pay $300 for an internet device (again, don't forget the display.  We've already seen that WebTV devices don't fly, TV's just aren't good enough to display the content), but aren't able to pay $500 for a completely general purpose computer, justifies a product for that segment.  Are there some people in this market?  Yes I'm sure there are.  Is it enough to support the various products that have attempted to enter the market? Nope.

In my mind for something like this to be successful it probably would have to cost around $150 max, *display included*  At that point it would be a pretty good bargain for someone compared to a real computer.

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, July 23, 2003

We used to do all our development on xterms
over the network. That worked well.  Why is having
a local disk and OS a big win?

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

If it is the same as with software they will pobably end up on the desks of ... developers :-(
First we had to forego all the nice development tools because "hey, can't you get that for free now?". In the next phase they will take away our computers and replace them with this crud running a textinput box on Mozilla that posts towards GCC running of one of these "with harddrive! "running as a central server.

(only just kidding)

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, July 24, 2003

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