1980s Apricot reborn in noughties as netbook seller
Biz-oriented PicoBook Pro launched
One-time UK computer industry darling Apricot has been revived as a maker of Small, Cheap Computers and is launching its first offering today.
Enter the PicoBook Pro, an 8.9in netbook based on chip maker VIA's C7-M processor and OpenBook platform.
The PicoBook Pro has a 1.2GHz CPU, 1GB of 667MHz DDR 2 memory and a 60GB hard drive. There's a 1.3-megapixel webcam in the bezel above the 1024 x 600 display.
We particularly liked the trackpad that, although small, is integrated into the wrist-rest area so there's no edge around it. Why, we don't know, but it makes using the tiny thing much more effective than other small trackpads.
Apricot's PicoBook Pro: VIA based, business oriented
The battery is a 2200mAh unit giving, Apricot claimed, 3-4 hours runtime.
A number of elements make the Pro stand out from the SCC crowd: like Fujitsu-Siemens' upcoming Amilo Mini, it has an ExpressCard 34 slot. Rarely for a netbook, it supports 802.11a Wi-Fi as well as 802.11b/g.
That, plus the inclusion of SuSE Linux Enterprise Edition and that 'Pro' suffix, suggest Apricot's pitching the product more at the business market than the traditional newbie audience SCCs have been tailored to thus far.
Indeed, Apricot's CEO, Shahid Sultan, told Register Hardware that the Pro is a "quality... premium product" aimed at a more demanding user.
Which is why the Pro's not so cheap: it retails for £279 with Linux pre-installed, rising to £328 if you'd rather have Windows XP. Both versions can be ordered direct now, but they're not expected to ship until toward the end of the month.
Watch out for a full review shortly.
Netbooks and mini-laptops Buyer's Guide
I worked for Apricot.....
.... in the Mitsubishi days from '96 until they started to shut down in April '99. By then all of the products were PC based, and innovation was still alive and well in the server range up until the last handful of products. Some of the servers were truly impressively specc'd by the standards of the day. Hotswap disks, multiple processors, integrated UPS....
One minor potential problem, this is apparently the same guy that tried to resurrect the Acorn brand back in 2006. Unfortunately, that went sour, as it appears the brand was still owned by someone else. You can read anout that here.....http://www.drobe.co.uk/riscos/artifact1594.html
I do hope the paperwork is in order......
I still have a working old Apricot with two 3.5 in floppies in the attic which I drag out now and then for a laugh (of the hysterical kind). That machine taught me more about computer selling than any other I can think of !! Was I conned or was I conned ??
If someone wants me to part with my hard-earned dosh for another Apricot branded "product", they've got another think coming !! Over priced, under specced and incompatible with almost everything else in the market !!
Nostalgia ain't wot it used to be...
I still have a mint, working F1 I was given by Dixons in '84 as a reward for services rendered. I wished at the time they had given me a Sinclair Spectrum or something I could afford to buy software for. Eventually I picked up demo copies of of gems like SuperCalc3 and Friday! (a dBase variant). A single DSDD3.5" could hold DOS2.1, one application and most of its data, using the 768KB RAM as MEMDSK to speed things up.
Never redeemed the Windows 1.0 voucher in the box as their "Manager" GUI was already slow enough. Calc used to take several seconds to refresh a simple home budget sheet with numbers scrolling across almost as if typed manually...
As for Hi-Tech, get this:
3.5" 720KB disks while IBM were still flogging 360KB 5.25" floppies.
8086 rather than 8088 processors and 256KB RAM, not 64KB as standard on IBM.
Infrared keyboard & trackball with fibre optic cable as backup.
Fantastic, glossy, printed manuals in hard bindings, even with folding covers acting as desk stands so you could read them vertically while working.
The machines always looked great and while I was selling them, they proved very reliable.
Nearly, but not quite IBM compatible so software had to be released for both and other "nearly" PC makers - Sanyo, Hitachi, etc.
Software almost as expensive as the PCs (wait, that's no different now...)
Dixons were the first high st. retailer to bring PCs to the masses but there was a culture of "consultation selling" for some time before they became a commodity item. My first Apple Mac sale was worth almost £4K with just the PC, a 9pin dot matrix AppleWriter and a box of disks!
Take a look and browse your own favourites:
Don't take for granted or moan about what you have now. It took a long while to get here and it will take a bit longer to get where you want to be.
How robust is this?
This doesn't look a bad machine for an office, but how is it going to stand up to the daily commute?
I fear someone may need recourse to a dictionary on this one.
- It doesn't look like a premium product, quite the opposite in fact.
- It's certainly not a premium product on specification, either.
More to the point, what does it actually offer to an already-crowded SCC market apart from an ambitious price tag and a rather miserly battery specification? Certainly most of the people I know getting SCCs are buying Eee PCs - not because of any particular Eee superiority, but because that's what the early adopters got and none of the other machines are doing anything that says, "look at me, I'm doing something much better" to make it worth their while risking the unknown.