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Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Beginning today, Wal-Mart is selling a brand new computer for $199.

Everex calls their new Green gPC an alternative personal computer which runs on Linux – a free operating system. Its name implies it’s an alternative to more expensive devices which run on Microsoft Windows or Apple’s operating system.

( is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)

The gPC uses Ubuntu Linux, which is a free, open-source operating system. I’ve been testing Ubuntu on a number of different computers – old and new – for the past few months and I highly recommend it.

Everex added a green, graphical desktop and calls the result the gOS. The screen features oversized icons and a large, horizontal navigation bar with easy-to-understand icons for Web sites and free, installed software including the Mozilla Web browser, Skype and the OpenOffice suite plus links to YouTube and Wikipedia.

There also are a large number of Google-labeled links such as Google Search, Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendar, Google News, Google Maps, Google Products Search and Gmail. One might guess that gPC actually stand for Google instead of Green PC based on the number of Google links bundled on the desktop, but Everex says that’s isn’t the case.

As for the hardware, the gPC runs on a 1.5 GHz Via processor as opposed to the more prevalent Intel or AMD chips and 512MB of memory. The combination is quite speedy.

There’s an 80 GB hard drive for storage and a DVD drive (reads and writes CDs but DVDs are read-only.) A keyboard, mouse and stereo speakers come with the computer, too. It’s up to you to provide a monitor.

The gPC connects to the Internet via Ethernet or the built-in modem. Any kind of wireless connections (Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, for instance) are not included. Since nearly all of my computers use Wi-Fi, I had to dig out an Ethernet cable for testing. The gPC comes only with a modem cable.

The instruction poster (not a book) is easy to understand and makes set-up a breeze. Actual ease of use, though, is a different story.

While the gPC comes packed with software – and does most simple tasks well – not everything is user-friendly right out of the box. Once the gPC was up and running, I tried viewing a YouTube video to test the Internet connection, Web browsing abilities and the computer’s ability to handle audio and video all at the same time.

Instead of a video, I was greeted with an error message. The gPC warned me that I needed to download and install a software “plug-in” before I could watch the video. I was given three different file choices to choose from.

Even if I figured out which file to download, the installation process is complicated and overly technical even for experienced computer users. If there’s an icon provided on the desktop, an end user shouldn’t be forced to download and install anything else.

As it stands now, I believe the gPC needs some re-tooling to make it more people-friendly.

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