Following up to my post about Augen devices last night, I just called the Kmart in Branson and spoke to them, and what they had in stock was the e-book reader, and one remaining unit of an Augen netbook different from the one Engadget found.
Engadget’s find was an Android “smartbook” with a 400 MHz processor and 128 megabytes of RAM, but Branson has one clearanced unit of what appears to be this model listed for $75 (currently out of stock) on Geeks.com, or $67.99 + $9.99 shipping at NewEgg (apparently in stock), a Windows CE “smartbook” with a 248 MHz ARM processor and 64 megabytes of RAM. The unit had a list price of $150, the electronics associate told me, but was clearance priced at $120. Clearly, K-Mart doesn’t always have the best prices.
How did it slip by me that Geeks.com and NewEgg are listing a $75 netbook of any kind? Of course, from the specs, it’s not really much of a “netbook” at all, and the disclaimer at the bottom of the Geeks.com page warns that it doesn’t do flash and is limited to pre-installed applications only (which would seem to suggest installing an e-book reader would be a foregone conclusion). Even the $99 Kmart one seems like a pretty bad deal, judging from Engadget’s review of it.
But this is not to say you can’t find a good netbook in that same price range. Geeks.com is listing some refurbished ASUS Linux Eee PCs and Dell Inspirons ranging from $130 through $245, which from a quality and speed perspective is going to be a much better deal. The 8.9” 900 MHz Celeron with 512 megabytes of RAM for $145 (also available in white, pictured above) makes me see how they got their name: it makes me want to go “Eeeeeeee!” just looking at it.
Even if it is a refurb, this is still both a more reputable brand and a more reputable seller than most of the cheap Chinese netbooks that have been floating around on the ‘net. And you can install additional programs on it.
Granted, there are few commercial e-book readers with Linux versions, but the Linux e-book reader FBReader works beautifully with everything Baen, Cory Doctorow, and other DRM-free e-book sources such as Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, Manybooks, and Closed Circle publish. If there are still any of these refurbs around by the time I get more money in a couple of weeks, I might just have to see about snagging one.