Attack of the Sylvania Smartbook

Summary:The pseudo-laptop known as the Smartbook is alive and on store shelves to this day.

Before the Ultrabook and before the netbook, there was a pseudo-laptop from Sylvania called the Smartbook. These ran a mobile OS instead of Windows, and were designed to be super cheap Internet devices. Some Smartbooks ran Windows CE, a precursor to Windows Mobile, and eventually some shipped with Android. These Smartbooks didn't have good hardware inside, so they were mostly slow and stripped down laptop wannabes. You probably never saw one in the wild as not very many of these sold.

See also: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

What kicked off this trip down Smartbook memory lane? This weekend I stopped in my local CVS pharmacy and did a double-take to find the Sylvania Smartbook on the shelf, waiting for a buyer. The price tag was $99.99, and it surprised me to find these beasts still being sold.

A quick web search showed me that CVS is not the only outlet still selling these Sylvania Smartbooks, Sears has them too. This model is about what you would expect, with a Via ARM processor, 256MB of memory, 2GB internal storage, SD slot to handle up to 8GB of external memory, 7-inch display (800x600), keyboard and trackpad. The Windows CE that runs it is Windows CE Embedded 6.0, and it has Microsoft Office viewers for common documents.

I couldn't resist sharing that this is still out there, so buyer beware. When I mentioned this on Twitter, my friend Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) didn't want to be reminded of them. That's not the way to handle it, when we forget history we are destined to repeat the mistakes made. That's what they say, anyway. Let's not repeat this one.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Security


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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