Launches Cheap Network Computers

Software vendor Tuesday took the wraps off a new class of computer designed to serve as an Internet-ready home and office terminal or public-access kiosk computer.

Dubbed the Lindows “WebStation”, the units have no hard drive but run off of an internal CD running LindowsOS. Restarting the computer instantly restores it to its original settings. The company says passwords and usernames are not required.

Some units will vary on the internal workings but Lindows partner TigerDirect is offering the WebStation with a 1.1-GHz AMD Duron processor, 256 Mbytes of PC2100 DDR memory, a 10/100-Mbit NIC, an integrated 56-Kbit modem, and a floppy disk drive.

Despite life without a hard drive, the WebStation includes Web browsing, Instant Messaging, Audio/Video Playback, Web-based e-mail and a Microsoft-compatible Office platform that lets a user open, edit and e-mail Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint documents.

In addition to running LindowsOS, the computers have hardware detection, Plug & Play support, and multimedia support for MP3, Real Audio, Real Video, QuickTime, MS Media, Java and Flash.

The San Diego-based company is launching the series starting at $169 and available at TigerDirect, and other vendors. Monitors are not included.

Because of the internal CD and other anti-intrusion measures, says its no-frills computers are perfect as a company work terminal, in a lobby or in a call center for employees who need access to the Internet and e-mail. The company said it plans on marketing the units to educational environments such as public libraries, computer labs and classrooms.

CEO Michael Robertson says his consumers are really ready for a low- touch, high-power computer.

“Every child should have a computer in their own room and with the WebStation’s resilience and value-pricing, it’s a perfect solution for families as well as businesses world-wide.”

Lindows has been making great strides to undercut mainstream computer makers with low-priced versions of popular configurations. For example, the company recently began shipping its first branded low-cost multi-purpose computer called the Lindows Media Computer.

In related news, Robertson and Tokyo-based EDGE this week unveiled a Japanese Version of LindowsOS to coincide with a newly launched “Linux PC Consortium.” The group says it wants to eliminate market monopolies and advocate open source.

News Around the Web