The $99 Sylvania Netbook ... (really)

Just when you thought Windows CE was merely a historical wiki entry … Apparently CVS is selling these 7" Sylvania netbooks for $99.

That thing made December hell for me because every person I know on the planet called and asked me if it was a good deal.

Well… is it?

Wait 3 months, half the people who bought them will have decided 7" is too small after all and they’ll be able to pick up a barely-used one that’s just as good for half as much. If this is a good deal, that’ll be a better one.

No, it isn’t.

WinCE??? Wince, indeed.

I feel your pain, Jason. I’ve already encountered 5 of these in the field while setting up wireless networks. Most of them have been “just something cheap for the young kids” who were jealous of their older siblings having a “real” laptop.

You know it’s a good computer if you can buy it at a drugstore. I plan to buy my next HDTV at Walgreen’s.

Seriously, though, I wonder if you could erase wince and install Ubuntu Linux on one of those things.

Ooh, 2GB of SSD space. Ouch.

It’s an ARM9 processor. That might be okay for graphing calculators (or the DS, apparently), but that’s still slower then first-gen ipod.

Doesn’t Sylvania make… you know, lightbulbs?

They (Funai Electric Co. LTD.) make a lot of things.

This thing is essentially a large screen WinCE PDA disguised as a netbook.

Well, considering what netbooks are supposed to be used for, it might work. The problem is that people are trying to use them as regular laptops that are just smaller. Most of the people that I talk to about them don’t realize they lack a CD/DVD drive, for example.

Lack of a CD/DVD drive is pretty standard on netbooks and is even becoming pretty standard on many non-desktop-replacement laptops these days.

I’d think the bigger issue would be the shitty, rapidly aging browser that is presumably included (last time I dealt with WinCE it was using some IE6 variant that was worse than the desktop IE6). If you’re going to run WinCE you might as well just run Ubuntu Mobile or ChromeOS, either way you’re non-compatible with desktop Windows apps, but at least the other options give you a good browser.

The other problem is lack of Flash support in its web browser. Lots of parents buying these for kids are hitting that problem with their desired browser games/sites not supported on it.

I expect CD/DVD drives to become more and more rare, even in desktop and desktop replacements. Most people I know don’t even use the ones they have. At work I don’t get CD/DVD drives installed in any of my servers or desktops. I use a USB external one for the rare occasion I have to install something from disc.

You can buy a key from Microsoft and simply download Word/Excel/Powerpoint?


These days you can also just buy Windows itself online and stick it on a USB key to install on a new system or as a reinstall over your current system. At most work places they use volume licensing but the same download/key system applies.

But to get back to bashing this netbook – it runs Windows CE, so you can’t get “real” Office apps for it in any medium.

It depends. You can get a 16 gig usb stick, install a bootable linux with firefox on it and it will boot. Its slow but it can be turned into a functional computer.

If it can run Firefox or Chrome browsers ok it would be perfect for my ten-year-old who is always borrowing laptops. The lack of flash is an issue though, it seems like every game site she goes to is all flash.