I've been drooling these Asus mini-thingies for ages. That's the xmas present to self sorted then!
UK PC company RM - formerly Research Machines, 1980s school-computer buffs - is to bring Asus' tiny Eee PC, launched last June, to these shores - for a mere 169 quid. Asus Eee PC 701 RM's MiniBook: cheap enough for the kids to break with impunity... The laptop will be branded the RM Asus MiniBook. The 890g, 22.5 x 16.5 x …
"The machine's pitched at schools, but we can see plenty of folk considering the MiniBook as a simple, inexpensive web surfing device."
... or a small form-factor webserver. Stick Apache, mod_perl and whatnot on it and Robert is indeed your mother's male sibling.
Also, this is the sort of device I would have killed for when I was doing field-service/troubleshooting work back in the day - the spec as is would have been ideal for that kind of thing, plus the thing is fairly compact, doesn't weigh 3 tons and looks fairly rugged.
I might even break my own "I'm not going to buy any more bloody computers!" dictum and pick one up. Hell, at that price it's almost worth picking up a bunch of them and making a baby Beowulf cluster just for the hell of it ... aaaah, just like the old days but without annoying management :-)
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It's a shame that they will undoubtably plaster on some hacked and botched RM version of Linux which will have all the usual functions for administering it renamed and hidden away in different places. They do exactly this with thier windows machines under the pretence of "making it easier for non-technical teachers" when in actual fact all they are doing is pissing off IT pro's who ever get a look at the box and find out all the admin tools have been renamed and replaced with RM's stock crapola software. They make thier money from support contracts, not machine sales so they will make sure that people need to call them for support.
Looks good, but this laptop runs Suse - the Linux OS from Novell. Novell are effectively owned by Microsoft.
MS's latest attempt to combat the inevitability of the OSS business model is the *embrace* Linux companies in trouble (Novell, Linspire, Xandros et al), *extend* their technical and commercial interests in the OSS community and finally *extinguish* it with patent litigation.
Consequently the Asus Eee is part of this rather sinister picture.
"Looks good, but this laptop runs Suse - the Linux OS from Novell. Novell are effectively owned by Microsoft."
There's nothing in the small print that says you have to *keep* the SuSE distribution unless, of course, you want after sales support.
Personally, I'd have a bunch of Gentoo install CDs ready and waiting on arrival - given the amount of bloat that seems to come with DeadRat and SuSE these days, the first command I run on the thing would be 'fdisk'.
This sucks. I've been wanting one of these EEE babies ever since I first saw them, and was one of the major attractions was of course the price, initially announced for $200.
Yippee! Thought I, $200 = £97 (give or take with exchange rates), even with the usual 'being in the UK' tax, it'll surely be about £150! How foolish. The first price I saw put it at £250, and this RM price is £200 (since I wouldn't bother going for the half-ram, half-disk space version just to save £30).
I am going to look at trying to get one from the US, at the equivalent of £97, even if I have to pay abother £50 for international shipping I'll still have saved money.
now that looks fun, i think ill have me one of those!!! :) and the price is spot-on! although there is no mention of screen res... hopefully it will be 1024x768 at a minimum!
and as for the RM version of Windows??? you obviously arnt a technical person! all non-domain based RM hardware ships with Vanilla Windows, and if your trying to play with a domain integrated machine and your not a sys admin, then you shouldnt be trying to arse about on someone elses network! or, if you are a sys admin, then you really should think of another job!!! simply put, all the 'RM Crapola' is easily uninstallable or part of AD enforced Polices... you just need sufficent access rights...
I dont work for RM, but i do support several thousand machines, and its spot on for stoppoing people like you from making a hash of a perfectly good workstation!!! :)
How resistant to spray water and sand is it? If kids are playing with it, how easy is it to get mud/jam/bogies off the thing by cleaning?
This item still isn't a replacement for the XO, but may be more useful in a more sanitary and less demanding role in the affluent areas.
I wonder though if the keyboard is still too small for grown ups.
Whatever we might think about it, schools are pressured into using MS Office by the demands of the job market. And that's partly driven by the ignorance of employment agencies in ticky-box mode. And, generally, IT departments will be wary of supporting "non-standard" systems
But this is cheap enough that a lot of people will be inclined to flick V-signs in the general direction of Bill Gates. And this looks a quite viable replacement for the old ideas of the late 1980s; the sort of machines to tempt journalists that the likes of Tandy and Clive Sinclair sold.
Schools? Corporate budgets? I'm not so sure.
According to the RM web site:
"All prices shown are subject to VAT & delivery unless stated and are on an 'available to education only' basis. RM reserves the right to change specifications and prices."
So the £199 price comes to £239.12 including vat and delivery.
the kohjinsha (mini-vye) seems a much better choice for ultra-portable computing. personally, I find my Sony TX2 to be as small as you can almost usefully get without it becoming a toy, although I must admit at the original US$200 price I was quite tempted. The new Fujitsu U810/840/8240 also looks very nice, albeit with a crippled keyboard :-(
All in all, I think I'll go with the forthcoming Nokia tablet with the keyboard, if it's any good, otherwise I'll stick with my Sony TX2, Sharp Zaurus c3100 and good old Palm T3, and a Nokia E65 for data communication.
RM makes a shitload of money out of Ignorant Schools by Selling them a (Supported my Arse server) Installed (by a Twat who thinks its a Great Idea on a DC with all the FSMO roles to configure it with Raid 5 across all 4 hard drives with no hot Spare) for over £16,000. This hardware complete with the Windows OS licence bought from you're average Server Vendor costs no more than £5000 with a 3 year Hardware support. The Schools who's managment think that RM's fudge of an Admin systems ( that actually slows down youre whole network is fantastic and then employs proffesoinal IT staff to Manage this nightmare of a system), is actually a good Idea need there heads examining. The School who's managment, when told by said IT proffesional that they could potentially save a shitload of money and a have more responsive and more configurable network if they migrated away from RM; still doesn't get it when I left after 6 months to work in Private School who used to use RM but saw the light and although it took 5 years to finish paying fo RM's rubbish is benefitting. After this debacle i wouldn't touch anything from RM with Barge Pole
I've been in touch about buying one of these for our business. No deal. It's for Schools only...
From an e-mail:
Following your enquiry regarding an RM Asus Minibook, unfortunately this device is not available to private companies, individuals or non educational establishments.
A check box will soon be added to our website, www.rm.com stating:-
"The RM Asus miniBook is exclusively available to UK Education. Please tick this box to confirm you are ordering on behalf of a UK educational establishment. RM reserves the right to reject orders that are later found not to be on behalf of a UK educational establishment."
I am sorry that we cannot be of assistance on this occasion.
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