Wal-Mart Is Latest To Offer A Cut-Rate Computer

from the cheap-enough? dept

As Wal-Mart continues its push into consumer electronics, the company has announced plans to sell a stripped down Windows PC at a discount price. While it will run Vista, the rest of the software will be open source (Open Office will be pre-installed instead of Microsoft Office), and, perhaps surprisingly, it will be completely free of crapware, an issue that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. There are a number of problems, however. The box won’t have much processing power, which is really bad news, considering the demands of Vista. Furthermore, this basic concept has been tried many times before. While it seems appealing, in theory, to completely strip down a computer and sell it at a discount, consumers have never really jumped at the idea. Name brand machines can be had so cheaply, much of the time, that there really isn’t much value as there would first seem in Wal-Mart’s approach.

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Companies: wal-mart

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Comments on “Wal-Mart Is Latest To Offer A Cut-Rate Computer”

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Shun says:

Is there a Linux version?

I know, there had to be a post mentioning Linux, if it had anything to do with cheap computers. But the real issue is : where’s Lindows or Red Hat in all of this? They just had to pass up this opportunity to let their names be known?

Does Wal-Mart have an exclusive deal with Microsoft. If so, wouldn’t this be further proof that Microsoft’s game is embrace/extend monopoly power?

I’d like to see one of these machines taken apart and analyzed, part by part. Same with the OLPC. Let’s see what components are actually going into these machines to make them so cheap.

firehydra2k says:

Re: Is there a Linux version?

You know, not all companies have to suck up to Linux to be a good company. 10% of the world are made up of computer literates and geeks. The rest don’t even care what operating system is on their computers as long as it works. And Linux, although more stable, is not even a completely user-friendly OS yet. Dell is experimenting with their deal with ubuntu, but that doesn’t mean everybody else must follow suit.

Mike says:

Re: Is there a Linux version?

Linux is STILL pretty much useless to most computer users… there is STILL no directx support, and too steep a learning curve for anyone who would purchase a computer at walmart, I don’t know why everyone tries to push linux as a replacement for windows, because it is nowhere near ready to do that at this point (and I run Ubuntu on my business PC, and am NOT a huge MS fan, just realistic)

Dan says:

Fortunatly for Walmart, the type of person who would purchase a cheap PC from them, tends not to know a ton about the internals of said machine.

Given the choice between the “1.5GHz Via C7-D” and a Core2 duo 1.5GHz, I doubt they would be able to tell you which one is better (without sitting at the PC first) So I really doubt that people would be put off by the unknown brandnames (as the linked areticle suggests).

I think that the compatibility issue is an important one. From what I remember, OO doesn’t save as doc by default, so I can imagine problems with people writing things, emailing them out, and then other people can’t read them. In addition, there are still compatibility problems opening some word docs in OO (but those are largely complicated things and OO works fine for the bulk of documents).

I am looking forward to seeing how this will turn out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

From what I remember, OO doesn’t save as doc by default, so I can imagine problems with people writing things, emailing them out, and then other people can’t read them.

There’s a bigger problem with people who write things with the latest version of M$ Office and send them to other people. A lot of people don’t have M$ Office and it isn’t free to acquire. And of the ones that do, a lot don’t have the very latest version and so still can’t necessarily read documents from those that do. At least with OpenOffice people who don’t have the latest version can always get it for free. And OpenOffice can save files in M$.doc format as well as pdf and the open document format, odf.

Anon Jr. says:

Tried the Lindows once before

Wal-Mart tried the Lindows thing before and it was a disaster. Partly because the hardware was seriously lacking (I know Linux can run ok on old hardware, but this was pushing it), and partly because the other apps just weren’t quite up to snuff. OO.org wasn’t looking as good as it finally managed to in version 2, Fx wasn’t quite the contender it is now, and Thunderbird was a horrid experience for anybody who didn’t know what they were doing (i.e. the target market)

It may be time to try it again, but I think there are still a few things that need to mature just a little more – and some fragmentation that needs to disappear – before it will be a true runaway success.

spencermatthewp says:

What makes it cheap

Slashdot had a much more indepth comment on this a few hours ago. It is running a VIA mainboard and Chip at 1.5 ghz. I’ve run VIA before it’s very solid, but not much in the expandability department.
This is the perfect computer to buy your 50+ year old parents who do nothing but look at the internet, type letters, send e-mail and print photos. All you have to do is install Firefox, Thunderbird, and an Anti-Virus And they’re set for another 3-5 years. I plan on getting one for my folks in the very immediate future.

Bruce Nuckowski says:

A cheap computer is just that!!

You get what you pay for and maybe this time Wallymart might have a good product.In order to get an attracrive price you scale down on the bell and whistles which in a computers case maybe well needed.I wish there was a company that made a computer that was plain,honest and simple to operate say like a Maytag washer.You ask only what is required and it dosen’t talk back and say you made a fatal error and it boots off.Wallymart is not famous for knowlewdgeable sales staff(sorry to the qualified ones)and you want to plunk down $599 + tax for a questionable box?? And ask some hard questions and the staff guy is lost and so is the sale.,but on the otherhand if a name brand is sold,maybe you have a chance.If you gut it,then buyer be ware,hope I am wrong but time will tell….,so what do you think??

Overcast says:

Well – not everyone can afford a 3 GHZ Quad Core.. 🙂

And many users just aren’t ‘into’ computer enough to hassle with Linux.

From that aspect, it’s good. I’m not a fanboy of any particular OS, I’ve used OS’s from DOS 3.3 to Server 2003, RedHat/Ubuntu/Debian/Suse Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, AT&T System V, HPUX… Never seriously got into Mac OS’s; however. Not that I have a thing against it, just never really had the occasion to, but from what I’ve seen of it – I like it.

They all have their uses. And I’m glad there’s a variety out there.

Open Office is a good idea – word of mouth might well make it more popular. Particularly when the price is right.. 🙂

Heck, I think I’ll download it, I use MS Office at work, but not at home. I use Abiword mainly and I avoid spreadsheets like the plague for home use.

Truthfully, I’d use Linux at home if it supported – or rather if Video games had more Linux support. Not many, but a few do. WineX and other emulators are a huge hassle.

DNeoMatrix says:

“Okay. All I have to say about this is…anyone who even CONSIDERS buying a computer at WAL-MART is either a)on drugs) or b)really, really f-ing STUPID.”
umm…not really.
bought a VERY VERY cheap emachines from walmart once… And while i generally hate both walmart and emachines – this one worked quite well and solved her problems for a while.

So get off your ego-centric high horse and look at the products themselves – not where they come from.

Mitch the Bitch says:

The sad fact is that some moron will go buy this thing let the kids spill soda all over it, install malware, and won;t play the latest games at 100fps (though they dont even understand the concept of fps) then complain loudly that this PC is junk and Wal-Mart is nothing but a corporate toady of the Republicans LOLOL.

Anonymous Coward once again proves how unbelievably clueless she is.

Linux Fan says:

What is the price point?

I read the above comments, but failed see anything on how much these machines will cost?

A low end machine will work fine for most users needs, period. There are those that deal with a lot of number crunching, graphics, video, or gaming that will require a more robust machine, and there are those that are in the middle of the road that can live with a $600-$1000 machine.

If there is an issue, it should be with Microsoft and there bloatware, creating an OS that requires 1 gig of RAM, just so you will not lock up running IE7 and Word at the same time… makes no sense!!

An earlier post said 10% of the users are computer savvy enough to handle the nuances of a different OS, which is about right, but the 90% that are left are not just knuckleheads. They have a specific need, and I feel it is the education that has to come about first. People have to be clear and honest about what they need a computer for and why.

It is up to the 10% to share our knowledge and to inform. Will a $200.00 box work for some users YES, for most, no. Do we all need a Porsche, knowing we will not go over 55 mph.

My thing is that everyone, with a job, should be able to afford a computer. If their job or hobby requires that they plunk down $2000.00 for a desktop replacement, then it should be a relative decision.

Justin says:

Reverting to dumb terminals

So the question is, why do you need processing power? The people that are more than likely going to be buying these machines only want them so they can get online. With everything being web based these days, all the horsepower is on server side, not client side. I think this is a fantastic idea and an inevitable step toward reverting back to a “dumb terminal” for those who only use the internet.

Linux Fan says:

Re: Reverting to dumb terminals

Well processing power is needed, but not by most.

The questions is still resources that need’s to be available to the browsers and the OS.

If the use case is that the only thing a person will be doing is just surfing, why by a computer at all?

The truth is that although a user will be surfing they will be using a authoring program, maybe downloading and using a music program… all that are RAM hogging.

Also, some web pages need more processing power then the NASA computers!!!! because of all the client side scripting that is included… not all the websites now days use an AJAX like technology.

I agree that most users do not need a Core 2 Duo or X2, but the system will need to be some what responsive.

I would dig up some old Pentium 3’s and use those…

Gary says:

How cheap is this supposed to be?

They already have a $348 computer that includes a 17″ monitor. It’s got plenty of power for most home users. A power-user or a Linux geek isn’t going to go to Walmart to buy a computer. If they’re talking about something in the $200 range, it might be attractive. Anywhere near $500 and you can buy a name brand, or a laptop for that.

Speaking of Linux or Lindows, I’ll start using it when close is good enough. For now it’s not worth getting around all the things that it almost does, but doesn’t quite get there. For a hobbyist, it’s fine. Use it at work all day long, not a chance.

Linux Fan says:

Re: How cheap is this supposed to be?

Yea, $348 is pretty cheap,, heck you can get a Dell for $399 in some cases.

I agree, an enthusiast will not buy a $200.00 box. The cheapest Vista is 2/5ths of the price.

What I tell people about Linux is that, if you are going to buy a computer and you have another one that you will not be using, then go out and try something like Ubuntu. Loads quick, comes with your Open Office and tons of other apps.

Most will be surprised on ease of use. Yes, there is a learning curve, but then there was one for those that went from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95… users that went(probably not of there wanting to) from MAC to Windows and vis a vis.

niftyswell says:


Techno snobs wondering why anyone would want a slow pc at a decent price? Online banking, checking email, and playing solitaire is what a whole lot of people use their PC’s for and little else. Look at the system requirements of most applications out there and you will be surprised. XP Pro had 300mhz as the minimum requirments and I remember people balking at that and all the RAM required. Having returned everything from batteries to tools at Wal Mart without any issue but having to wait 4 months for Dell to repair a broken power supply or the latest where I am still waiting for a laptop I ordered from Lenovo in early June to show up and am being told August at the earliest and cannot get customer service on the line…they send one way emails to me advising me my 2400 dollar purchase is being delayed and point me to a site that tells me it is down. Wal Mart is always open and if granny needs an email box they cant go wrong and if the power supply or HD crashes in the first year I know it is simply a matter of carting it down there for a new one or a refund. Talk all the trash you want, I think this is an excellent idea.

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