From the past couple of years, there has been a race to make the first $100 computer. Folks at Novatium were finally able to build a $100 PC. Finally, they were able to do it. The Navigator consumes very little power and is very small in size. This little nifty piece of equipment has a lot of potential. Read on the review of $100 PC to find out more about it!
In the box, you get a Nova Navigator and its power cable. Nothing else. No monitor, no keyboard or mouse. Remember we are reviewing a $100 PC, not a premium laptop or a netbook here.
The unit is pretty small. The Nova Navigator is just 12” wide, 10.5” deep and 2.5” tall. It has the size of one of those nettops . Infact, it is a nettop. But, since nettop is a term that very few people are familiar with, the term PC would be more suitable to use especially when you are targeting such a huge market.
For those of you, who do not what a nettop is,
It is mini-PC that is designed to perform basic computation tasks like web-surfing, chat and basic office documents editing.
The Navigator comes in a robust casing that can be placed horizontally as-well-as vertically. It has a couple of USB ports in the front, which would be pretty handy to plug-in the flash drives. You will also find the headphone and microphone jack in the front too. Moving up, you will find the slanting power button above which resides a blue LED, which lights up when the unit is in use. Above that, you will find the red LED to indicate the HDD activity. The small button above it is the reset button, which when pressed would restart the PC.
At the back of the unit, you will find a host of ports just like any other PC. Power connector is at the top. You can find two PS/2 ports to connect the keyboard and mouse although I tried USB mouse and that worked fine. Oddly, USB keyboard was not recognized and I could not get it to work. Luckily, I had a PS/2 keyboard lying somewhere in my office and it worked as expected. VGA out port is present below the PS/2 ports. Parallel and serial ports are also present for those who are still using their old devices.
There are four more USB ports at the back, which brings us to a total of six USB ports (2 in the front and 4 at the back). An RJ-45 port to connect to the LANs is also present. Unfortunately, WiFi is missing from it, which can be a deal breaker for some (like me). Infact, the only way to get online is via LAN. Even the 56k modem is not there in order to further cut the costs.
Let’s see what is there on the inside
It comes with an Intel Atom processor, which is able to handle all the tasks that were thrown to it. It comes with 512MB DDR2 RAM. On the storage size, it uses a mere 256MB SSD. Yes, you read that right. When I asked the folks at Novatium regarding it, they said that the main focus is on Cloud Computing and they do not expect the users to store much on the device. You will have to BUY online storage space to store data. Luckily, one can use flash drives and external HDDs.
Upon registration, the user gets 50GB online storage, which can be extended by buying more storage from Nova.
You get an easy-to-use interface after booting up, where the applications are divided into pre-defined categories.
Internet category: Firefox is included for web-surfing. Skype is also included and you can also connect your webcam via USB port. Media player is also available. Again, you will have to load your music to your flash drives or to your HDD. It also comes with some basic games for your pleasure.
On the documents panel, you will find:
- Adobe Reader
- Openoffice apps
- Microsoft Office apps
There is also Games panel and utilities panel with basic games and utilities respectively. A Radio application is also included. So far, only English, Hindi and Tamil radio channels are supported.
On the application side, you will need to satisfy yourself with the applications provided on the Navigator as you cannot install your own applications on it.
On the right side of the launcher screen, you will find the option to launch either the Windows desktop or the SUSE Linux desktop.
By clicking on the Windows icon, it will launch Windows Server 2008 enterprise. You need to be online to launch it. It comes with these applications installed:
- Google talk
- Internet Explorer
- Windows Media Player 11
- Microsoft office (Excel, Powerpoint, Word)
On the SUSE side, you will find:
The Navigator is very power-frugal, consuming as little as 20 watts. The maximum consumption hiked at 30 watts. Those numbers are great for a desktop.
Firstly, I do not see the point of using SSD in a nettop. Since, it is not going to be mobile device, then why use SSD? For that price, they could have gone with a small 10GB HDD instead, which would not have affected the cost anyhow.
Having said that, we must understand that the whole point behind the Nova Navigator is to create a affordable, yet easy-to-use computer. It may never be able to win the hearts of the computer geeks who want everything in a computer, but it is meant for those who just do casual surfing and simple office editing. Since, it consumes so little power, it is a great way to cut the costs of your electricity bills.
- It is really a $100 PC!
- Small size
- Six USB ports
- Low power consumption
- 50GB online space
- Cloud Computing: all of your data is stored on the server
- Almost no maintenance
- No DVD drive: This would increase the cost, but still..
- No WiFi
- No HDD to store data
- No 3rd party application support
- Cloud Computing: Remember, all of your data is stored on the server.
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