Razor 400 Notebook Laptop: Look what $299 won't buy you!
Much has been made of a small Florida-based PC builder which calls itself 3K and has the latest and cheapest entry on the low-priced notebook bandwagon. The Razor 400 is an UMPC-sized device that is priced at $299 which undercuts every other notebook currently on the market as well as UMPCs and upcoming MIDs.
What do you get for under $300? Not much. The Razor 400 features a puny 7 inch 800 x 480 pixel display, 512 MB DDR2 memory, 4 GB Flash storage, Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity and runs a Linux operating system which the manufacturer touts as "a Windows-friendly Linux Operating System." Exactly what is that? WINE? Or did 3K manage to do what the rest of the Open Source Universe has been unable to do and get Linux to run Windows? It's listed as a CE Linux OS version 2.4. Since when does that run Microsoft OSes?
The processor is the most interesting story about the Razor and may likely be the main reason why the new mini notebook is going 90 miles an hour down a dead end street. The chip is a 400 MHz version of the Jz4740 CPU by Ingenic which is a Chinese chip manufacturer that has not had its processors built into notebooks before. The Ingenic chip is a processor that is designed to run GPS, PMP and smartphone devices. What is it doing in the Razor? Not much, apparently. It's a 180nm processor which makes the fab cutting edge for 1998 as it is built on the same process as AMD's long gone Thunderbird cores.
Ok, but it's designed to be cheap. I get that. But then again, all you need to do is tag on an extra C-note to get to the dizzying budgetary heights of $399 and look what you get:
Dell Vostro 1000
Mobile AMD Sempron Processor 3600+
15.4 inch Wide Screen XGA LCD Anti-Glare Display
512MB Shared Single Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHZ
80GB 5400RPM Hard Drive
24X CD Burner/DVD Combo Drive with Cyberlink Power DVD
ATI Radeon® Xpress 1150 256MB HyperMemory
Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Wi-Fi Internal Card
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Basic, Service Pack 1
Microsoft® Works 9.
When you consider that just the Windows Vista costs over a hundred bucks retail, anyone who hasn't been living in a cave since the Apple II debuted can easily determine that the Dell offering is a real notebook with reasonably modern capabilities that will run rings right around the Razor 400 for the same money. Sure, the Vostro 1000's 512MB RAM is going to run Windows Vista at Turtle Impulse Speed, but RAM is real cheap these days and another $25 or so will see the memory boosted to a Vista-pleasing level.
The Razor 400 does not compare at all with the Vostro 1000 or many of the other notebooks that are available close to the $400 price range. It's just another example of baseless hype to trick unwitting computer users into thinking that they're actually getting something for a cheap price when instead they are getting next to nothing. This calls again for a phrase which is becoming more and more common in the hype-filled PC world: Lunchbag Letdown.