The $799 subnotebook is the latest price breakthrough from Lindows.com CEO Michael Robertson, and as with the previous effort (the multimedia mini PC,) the spec can more than hold its own, with or without Lindows as the OS. Robertson, we feel, has a happy knack of figuring out how to source product at a keen price, spec them reasonably then package and sell at a 'breakthrough' point.
Lindows sort of comes tagging along behind this, rather than being immediately and obviously necessary. It possibly provides differentiation that couldn't be achieved if these were merely Windows machines, and it keeps the outfits involved a little distanced from knife-fights with Wintel (although Lindows has one with Microsoft anyway), but how necessary is it? An interesting notion to kick around. If this were merely a company knocking out cheap Windows PCs (for the sake of argument, let's call it iDOT), then probably people would shrug, figure it's just another cheap PC, and wander off. But cheap Lindows PC brings in the 'look at me, pluckily challenging The Beast' factor - so it is necessary, really.
Perversely, we at The Register remain spec-focussed anyway. As you can see here, for your $799 you get a 2.9 pound machine with a 933Mhz Via C3 CPU, 256Mb RAM, 20Gb hard disk, two USB 2, Firewire, 12.1in TFT and an Ethernet adapter. Note that CD/DVD etc is external and optional, so the price is maybe not quite as keen as it looks, but depending on what you wanted it for, you quite possibly wouldn't want to buy these anyway. Which might be handy, as we note iDOT doesn't seem to have priced up any options for the machines yet.
As with the multimedia min-PC, the Via connection is worth noting. The mini-PC uses C3 and Via miniITX board*, while the subnotebook is one of the few using the C3 you'll be able to get hold of. The C3 range might sound like a pretty sensible option for ultralight notebooks, but getting it into big name brands in the face of Chipzilla is obviously tough. So there are going to be pricing and stroking advantages for customers who give it prominence, or even house room. And something else we're sure Michael knows all about already, but we think we ought to lob in.
Via has a Tablet PC reference design, and a Lindows Tablet might well be a logical next step. So maybe you read it here next. ®
* It does seem to exhibit a price shave too far, however. There seems to be one Via miniITX permutation that has TV out as optional, not standard, and this appears to use it. Without the option. Which does not seem totally bright for a living room PC.