Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop

Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop

Summary: It was only a matter of time before Dell jumped on the low-cost laptop bandwagon. Contract manufacturer Compal said it will build a low-cost laptop for Dell with an 8.9-inch display starting at about $400.


It was only a matter of time before Dell jumped on the low-cost laptop bandwagon. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that Compal, a major contract manufacturer, will build a low-cost laptop for Dell that will go on sale in the second quarter. Like others in this category, the Dell version will have an 8.9-inch display and cost between $400 and $500.

A few weeks ago I met with Compal in Taiwan, and it was clear that the company believes these low-cost laptops--along with related products such as ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) and mobile Internet devices (MIDs)--will grow rapidly starting this year. The company predicts total low-cost laptop shipments this year will be about 6 million units. That would be a little less than 5% of the total notebook market in 2008.

The category has its roots in the One Laptop Per Child project, but it was Asus that really broke it open with the release last year of its Eee PC. Intel's new Centrino Atom platform is also helping this category evolve, though AMD and Via also offer low-power, low-cost chips that should appear in some of these. Acer, HP and Intel all have plans for new products in the same sub-$500, 8.9-inch category.

Topics: Dell, Emerging Tech, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • bout time

    its about time dell jumped in and grabbed this huge gap in
    the market. my only worries are if the consumer is gonna
    suffer on quality due the opening of this new budget sector.
    Kmart style computers anybody?? not for me....
  • RE: Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop

    about time!
  • RE: Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop

    Ewwwwww !!!!

    Is that real ?
  • RE: Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop

    The price seems great but what can you do with an 8.9" screen? For a little bit more you can get a good low end laptop.
  • RE: Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop?

    Personally I would not pay $400 to $500 for a laptop with an 8.9-inch display. I bought my Dell laptop last year for $499 via their website and it has a 17" screen along with all the other goodies we've come to expect. Granted this was an online special deal through Dell but there will be other sales like this in the future. I'll wait for those before I buy another one. It may just me be but I am not one to get into ultra compact things like these laptops there taking about or blackberry's and the like. With all the hot spots these days, I'll fire up this one and hit the net if I care to.
  • Are they gonna put Linux on these?

    Or will they choke them to death with Vista...
    hasta la Vista, bah-bie
  • this is stupid . . .Dell craptop PC

    $400 laptops aren't stupid - but this junk Dell is going to promote is stupid. I just paid $429 for a basic Toshiba at Office Depot. It's got a nice 15.4 display and decent capability. It's got Vista Basic, which I patched with SP1 right away. So far it's behaving, but I have an uninstalled copy of XP Pro if it starts acting up.
    So sure $400 decent laptops are a great idea.

    But a Dell $400 "craptop", no thanks!
  • "Sub Notebook" People!

    Personally, I'm very excited to see what Dell comes out with. If they follow Asus' lead, it'll be something with a solid state drive and led backlit display -- boots fast, easy on the battery and practically indestructible. There is a HUGE market for these. By the time you have a 15.4" or 17" screen, you might as well have a desktop computer. I'm certainly not going to lug that beast around with me on the off chance I may need it. A 7" or 8.9" screen, on the other hand, is small enough to drop in your purse (or manbag) and take with you just in case you find wireless somewhere and want to check your e-mail. I played with an Asus Eee for a couple of weeks and the 7" screen was much easier to read than you'd think. I found free wireless in places you might not expect, like the specialty clinics I had to accompany my dad to after his last hospitalization. It was really handy. The HP looks cool too but I'm waiting to see what the Dell is going to be like because I trust their warranty more than the others.
  • Most of you are missing the point.

    If you want cheap, just look in the ads in the Sunday paper and get the $400 low-end Laptop of the week from Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples, etc. It'll have a bright 15" display a DVD/CDRW drive, about 2 hours of battery life, and weigh 6-7 pounds.

    OTOH, if you want something light and portable, you can get an ASUS Eee 900, or an HP Mini-Note, or whatever Dell is coming out with. The HP is a bit under 3 pounds, and the ASUS is just a bit over 2 pounds. They're both about the size of a typical book. The ASUS will come with 12GB of Flash, and boot in under 30 seconds. The HP has a better keyboard and a 120G hard drive, so it's not as rugged (and boots a lot slower), but maybe a bit more useful if you need a lot of space or plan to type a lot.

    You'll pay a premium- the ASUS is expected to cost $500 (with XP). The HP is $600 with Vista Home ($550 with Linux). But you'll get a machine that you're MUCH more likely to have with you when you need it. Is it worth $100-$200 more (not to mention the lack of a DVD/CD drive) for that?

    It is to me.
    Steve Summers
  • RE: Dell is latest to plan a $400 laptop

    Will it offer lynux platform or only Windows? What 'Office' suite will it offer? will Open Office or something else be available?
    I wouldn't chance a Windows-based platform with such a small amount of memory.