Cellphone group Vodacom is making a play into the netbook market. On Tuesday, it unveiled a low-cost compact computer, the Linkbook, that it says is designed specifically to provide users, especially first-time computer buyers, with “simple and affordable Internet access”.
The Ubuntu Linux-powered laptop, which comes bundled with 300MB/month of data and which costs R199/month on a 24-month contract, features e-mail and office productivity tools. The OpenOffice suite, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, is included on the machine.
The new device will “broaden Web and computer access in emerging markets and tackle the digital divide”, Vodacom SA MD Shameel Joosub says in a statement.
“SA is a market eager for more ways to get online,” Joosub says. “We expect that the Linkbook will be particularly successful locally due to low PC penetration.”
The Linkbook has an embedded Sim card, as well as two USB ports. The 3G aerial supports high-speed downlink packet access technology, allowing for faster Web browsing.
“The cost of the actual computer to the consumer over the two-year contract period comes in at R40/month,” says Linkbook co-founder Mark Levy. “It is a massive step in the direction of the US$100 computer.”
The Linkbook supports Wi-Fi. It has 16GB of flash memory (no hard drive), an 8,9-inch TFT display and a Motorola-derivative processor. — Staff reporter, TechCentral