back to article 1980s Apricot reborn in noughties as netbook seller

One-time UK computer industry darling Apricot has been revived as a maker of Small, Cheap Computers and is launching its first offering today. Enter the PicoBook Pro, an 8.9in netbook based on chip maker VIA's C7-M processor and OpenBook platform. The PicoBook Pro has a 1.2GHz CPU, 1GB of 667MHz DDR 2 memory and a 60GB hard …

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Apricot

Nice to see the Apricot name back in the biz. I worked for one of their resellers in the late 90s and they really did make some excellent kit. Apricots were great technically but unable to compete with the likes of Dell, HP and whathaveyou.

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... but they need to employ better designer

The unit looks so much like last century. I doubt many executives will want to carry this thing.

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welcome back Apricot

let's hope you don't get hung out to dry like last time.

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Dan
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'Noughties'

...*vomits onto keyboard* Seriously, please. That's worse than 'lappy'.

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Ummm

I don't think the words "demanding user" and "VIA C7-M" sit very well together, somehow. Probably best to pass on this one.

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Boffin

Trackpad

I'm guessing that the trackpad might be better because it has more usable area. Since it's not inset into the case your finger isn't constantly bashing into the side, thereby increasing the amount of trackpad you can actually use.

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Memories

In a past life as a computer repair man I remember being regularly called out to fix the original Apricots. This was in the mid eighties when these things ran CPM.

If I remember correctly they had a variable speed 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drive which enabled higher data densities. This caused no end of problems as the diagnostic disks we had to set the drive alignment wouldn't work with them.

Im sure this little netbook will prove to be more reliable.

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Unhappy

It all looked wonderful...

...until I got to the bit that said "based on chip maker VIA's C7-M processor".

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Coat

How about some proper business tests

How about testing it on a proper business test vs the Atom crowd.

I would really like to see battery usage and speed for let's say repeatedly downloading a 2MB power point over wireless + VPN cracked up to the usual company settings.

It is much more useful than seeing the same silly (and mostly meaningless) H264 benchmark. It is also representative for netbook usage in business.

Cool machine, otherwise. Will probably join my "wishlist".

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Nice to see Apricot back in any event

They had some great ideas (and designs) in the 80s.

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How sad.

Once upon a time Acorn produced genuinely innovative computers. Now the brand has been reborn as a vehicle for cheap Windows tat.

Apricot was also innovative, albeit within the confines of the Victor Sirius architecture and MS-DOS. They even came up with their own GUI (ACTivity) before bundling Gem and finally Windows. Now Apricot has gone the way of Acorn (although, admittedly, all Apricot's since the Xi were shite).

Please. Please. I beg you. Let these venerable brands rest in peace inless you intend to do something innovative with them (bundling Windows or cloning the EeePC does not count as innovative). At the very least, let us have design that matches that of Lenovo, Sony or Apple.

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Alert

Another Apple Lawsuit....

a Round Fruit with a leaf to the Right? surely another apple suit on the way...

What no Lawyers icon?

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Happy

More Memories

Yes, Maliciously Crafted Packet, I remember those days - you'd open the case and gaze in wonder at the way the motherboard had little pieces of wire soldered all over the place to correct the defective PCB design, and we had a special stock of boot disks for the Apricots, as the floppy drives were so far out of alignment that a boot floppy made in any other machine wouldn't work.

Happy days :0

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hmm

So it's slow, has a small display, not enough disk space or ram, and looks like a five year old toshiba (i.e., crap), and they still want nearly 300 quid for it? Err, FAIL.

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Just an revived brand?

Just like commodore, atari and others have been used to badge generic products are we sure this is apricot and not some venture capitalists using the name?

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RE:It all looked wonderful...

The VIA C7, whilst no core duo killer is a perfectly serviceable piece of silicon that is as fast, if not faster then the current Intel Atom (see the recent show down on Ars Technica). The graphics chip might not be so hot, but it's on a tiny screen so you're not going to be running photoshop on it to any reasonable extent.

On the plus side, VIA's vinyl sound chips are the best intergrated sound chips currently on the market, a damn sight better then anything Intel have produced, ever.

One thing that does surprise me though is the price, I was of the understanding that the C7, paired up with the latest edition of their chipset was significantly less expensive then an Atom set.

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Apricot shmapricot

Yes, yes, nostalgia-fest, but Apricot were proper nasty. Technically okay as long as you didn't care too much for little issues like "compatibility" or bigger issues like "affordable" or "support" there were some (even many) resellers who got fat on the brand, largely because the corporate punters they were selling to were used to lock-ins -- Apricot got by on being cheaper than IBM and that was about it.

Resurrecting the evil dead? Not for me. I'd rather buy Apple. (And that'd be a first.)

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@Pascal Harris

Which reminds me the original Atom was Acorn's first pre-assembled computer, and the forerunner of the BBC Micro (code named Proton).

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Coat

They were 3.5" drives not 51/4"

.. in fact Apricot were pioneers of the 3.5" drives IIRC - a whole 720k's worth of data on a single disk! Worked for them a couple of years in the late 80's before Mitsubishi got 'em.. not exactly great memories.

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b
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yuk

60gb HD, no SSD, nothing special there.

1024x600 is standard res, nothing special there.

£328 + 'doze, is dear for this space.

pff..at least stick a SSD in there, make it something reasonable!

roll on the full review...zZz...

cheers,

bill

p.s. stuff and nonsense: http://www.eupeople.net/forum

baby laptop thread: http://www.eupeople.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=487

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Cynical badge engineering

"Just like commodore, atari and others have been used to badge generic products are we sure this is apricot and not some venture capitalists using the name?"

Thats exactly what it is. It looks to me like a cynical attempt to extract cash from 80s nostalgia victims which will make a few quid then will vanish in the ether again when the badge will be sold on to the next shark, sorry , I mean finger on the pulse businessman.

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What goes around, comes around

Maybe the office just round the corner from me which still has Apricot promo stuff in the window will start selling these? They might want to change the 1996 calendar though...

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Premium?

I fear someone may need recourse to a dictionary on this one.

- It doesn't look like a premium product, quite the opposite in fact.

- It's certainly not a premium product on specification, either.

More to the point, what does it actually offer to an already-crowded SCC market apart from an ambitious price tag and a rather miserly battery specification? Certainly most of the people I know getting SCCs are buying Eee PCs - not because of any particular Eee superiority, but because that's what the early adopters got and none of the other machines are doing anything that says, "look at me, I'm doing something much better" to make it worth their while risking the unknown.

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Boffin

Nostalgia ain't wot it used to be...

Ah, Apricot!

I still have a mint, working F1 I was given by Dixons in '84 as a reward for services rendered. I wished at the time they had given me a Sinclair Spectrum or something I could afford to buy software for. Eventually I picked up demo copies of of gems like SuperCalc3 and Friday! (a dBase variant). A single DSDD3.5" could hold DOS2.1, one application and most of its data, using the 768KB RAM as MEMDSK to speed things up.

Never redeemed the Windows 1.0 voucher in the box as their "Manager" GUI was already slow enough. Calc used to take several seconds to refresh a simple home budget sheet with numbers scrolling across almost as if typed manually...

As for Hi-Tech, get this:

3.5" 720KB disks while IBM were still flogging 360KB 5.25" floppies.

8086 rather than 8088 processors and 256KB RAM, not 64KB as standard on IBM.

Infrared keyboard & trackball with fibre optic cable as backup.

Fantastic, glossy, printed manuals in hard bindings, even with folding covers acting as desk stands so you could read them vertically while working.

The machines always looked great and while I was selling them, they proved very reliable.

Downsides:

Nearly, but not quite IBM compatible so software had to be released for both and other "nearly" PC makers - Sanyo, Hitachi, etc.

Software almost as expensive as the PCs (wait, that's no different now...)

Dixons were the first high st. retailer to bring PCs to the masses but there was a culture of "consultation selling" for some time before they became a commodity item. My first Apple Mac sale was worth almost £4K with just the PC, a 9pin dot matrix AppleWriter and a box of disks!

Take a look and browse your own favourites:

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=495

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=271

Don't take for granted or moan about what you have now. It took a long while to get here and it will take a bit longer to get where you want to be.

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How robust is this?

This doesn't look a bad machine for an office, but how is it going to stand up to the daily commute?

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Old Apricots

I still have a working old Apricot with two 3.5 in floppies in the attic which I drag out now and then for a laugh (of the hysterical kind). That machine taught me more about computer selling than any other I can think of !! Was I conned or was I conned ??

If someone wants me to part with my hard-earned dosh for another Apricot branded "product", they've got another think coming !! Over priced, under specced and incompatible with almost everything else in the market !!

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I worked for Apricot.....

.... in the Mitsubishi days from '96 until they started to shut down in April '99. By then all of the products were PC based, and innovation was still alive and well in the server range up until the last handful of products. Some of the servers were truly impressively specc'd by the standards of the day. Hotswap disks, multiple processors, integrated UPS....

One minor potential problem, this is apparently the same guy that tried to resurrect the Acorn brand back in 2006. Unfortunately, that went sour, as it appears the brand was still owned by someone else. You can read anout that here.....http://www.drobe.co.uk/riscos/artifact1594.html

I do hope the paperwork is in order......

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