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net appliances

2000-12-21 17:33:43+00 by Dan Lyke 11 comments

Jay linked to the New Internet Computer and dissed the Netpliance box. My grandmother recently had a stroke, and the family has been discussing lightweight ways to get her on the 'net so that she can read the musings of my generation (and I'm the oldest of the grandkids) via email and web. That New Internet Computer[Wiki] looks like just another big ol' system with a bit of flash RAM and no disk, but it's got a CRT monitor. The appeal to me of the Netpliance[Wiki] and similar is that it and the display will fit on a desk in a shared room somewhere. Anyway, if people have suggestions for low cost net appliances I'd be interested in your experiences.

[ related topics: Interactive Drama ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2000-12-21 18:55:24+00 by: baylink [edit history]

You missed my comments in Linux Weekly News ( http://www.lwn.net/backpage.php3 ) on the topic, too. They amount to a guest editorial, and so I won't duplicate them here. But the short version is, I'm not real sanguine about Netpliance's continued existence, when the VC's discover they've been screwed. NIC, OTOH, has Larry Ellison's wallet, and more importantly, his desire to trump Gates (no pun intended, really :-) behind *it*... If the only item is email, look at the CIDCO email appliance, which is only $100. If the web *is* an issue, remember that the NIC has standard ports... and can therefore have assistive interfaces (special keyboards, big monitors, etc) plugged into it... I have a NIC on my desk at work; full review to come. (OH, BTW: your URL parser doesn't stop at close-parens. Oops. :-)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:48+00 by: Dan Lyke

And you really meant http://www.lwn.net/2000/1221/backpage.php3 anyway. But the thing I'm looking at is that the ThinkNIC isn't cheaper enough than a real computer to make the difference. If I've still got to use a full-on monitor, saving a hundred bucks doesn't make enough of a difference to have a box that's not built with commodity parts that someone can fix. If I'm going that route I may as well just package up a full-on computer. I do think it's got to have a color screen and do some web browsing, 'cause pictures are a must.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:48+00 by: TheSHAD0W

The best "internet appliance" is an old used Pentium-100 laptop. It's roughly the same price as those specialized boxes, once you add in the monitor, and it's capable of much more than browsing. So what if it can't run Flash animations at full speed?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:48+00 by: baylink

Well, find a used Monorail, you know, the one with the built in LCD? :-) I agree with the Shadow, actually; my working laptop is a P-133 Compaq. I bought it for $200. The 10 Gigger was another 175. It's *fast enough*... at least under RedHat 6.2 :-) With 64Mb... :-) And, when did you last price machines? I just built a bottom end box for a client's nieces. Without any silly MSN rebate, and with a *used* monitor, it was still damned close to $800. Stuff cheaper on the left coast?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:48+00 by: Dan Lyke

'parently. We've also got this computer store across the street from the offices that has to be a money laundering operation... "Sorry, cheapest ethernet card we've got is $14." If I go with a built-up computer I've got a 15" monitor lying around unused, and a crisp, clear 17" CRT costs about $185. I've got cases, so it's motherboard, some RAM ($.50 a meg right now?), and a drive (if I don't have a spare lying around $95 will get more than she'll ever use, unless an 80s teatotalling methodist suddenly develops a taste for archiving alt.binaries.pictures.whatever). The expensive part about going that route would be the Windows license.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:48+00 by: Dan Lyke

Jeepers, Jay, it just clicked: $800 with a used monitor? The Compaq Presario 1247 laptop I'm typing this on, 450MHz with 6 gig HD, 12" screen and 4 hours of battery only cost me $850 at Office Despot, and that was back in February.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:49+00 by: baylink

That machine was 64MB/20GB, Celeron 5something, CD-ROM, floppy, and all the crap, including a used 15". We shipped it at, I think, exactly $800; I'd be real surprised if we made more than a bill on it.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:49+00 by: Dan Lyke

The month or three old flyer we've got on the cork-board from the shop across the street prices a Celeron 566 machine with a new 15" monitor and 20 gig drive (and mumbledy-mumbledyX cd drive and ethernet and speakers and modem[1] and all that sh... er stuff) for just over $750. [1] Okay, it's not a modem, it's a cheesey cheap low quality A/D and vice-versa converter. The modem comes on disk and is the only reason you need that expensive 566 MHz box rather than an old P150. Which reminds me I need to get on with my XMas shopping for a Mac owning friend...

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:49+00 by: Dan Lyke

Back to the point, there's no way someone needs 20 gig of disk and a 566 MHz processor for web browsing, $200 to pick up a P250 or thereabouts with enough disk to run Windows and Netscape is pricey.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:50+00 by: baylink

Stipulated. I wouldn't be overly worried about turning someone loose on my laptop, the aforementioned P133/64/nnGB, with Linux installed, tuned, and locked down a bit. I wonder how well the NIC CD-ROM image would run on it. :-)

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:52+00 by: elyke

If you go out to one of the auction sites or browse your local paper and wait long enough, you can pick up a CPU what-nots for under 200 dollars. If you prop the monitor on a hospital bed cart you'll be surprised what all granny ends up doing on the thing. I've purchased two powerbook 1400's in the last year for under 200 dollars so for the money a laptop is not out of the question. don't insult your grandma with a friggin' microwave that emails... Eric Lyke