É possível, pelo menos nos EUA, pais que não é um dos alvos certos do OLPC,
comprar um pc antigo por $100 ou comprar um laptop com um preço bem parecido
com isso. Pode ser um desafio para o OLPC, ou então mais apenas um


This was a big year for the $100 notebook computer, a concept popularized by
the One Laptop Per Child organization for developing economies. However, not
all $100 PCs are targeted toward the needy. During Black Friday, one
retailer offered a $100 Compaq
rebates and a Vonage VoIP phone subscription.

But what can Benny get you in a portable computer if you're not buying
educational aids in the millions or lining up at storefronts mere hours
after polishing off the pumpkin pie? Finding the answer would require acute
knowledge of the technology market, keen insight into seller psychology, and
about seven solid minutes of online research at the internet's garage sale,

Here were the demanding ground rules. To keep the experience as close as
possible to a retail purchase, the notebook had to have a "Buy It Now" price
of $100 or less. It had to be functional upon delivery (no "parts" PCs),
including a hard drive and AC adapter, and had to be able to run a "modern"
consumer operating system (Winodws XP or Mac OS X) with, at most, a RAM
upgrade. For PCs, I used a Pentium III or Celeron as a rough proxy for this
capability. Let's see how I did.

For starters, I didn't include shipping charges (but chose only U.S.
shippers to minimize them) or exclude notebooks with unknown or dead battery
conditions. However, given the age of most of these PCs, it's reasonable to
assume that most of the batteries were dead unless otherwise specified. This
is far from ideal, of course, but still portable in the sense you could
carry the laptop to a local coffee shop with a lenient outlet policy. Let's
face it, the $100 Wal-Mart special isn't going to last more than a half hour
on batteries anyway.

My search led me through a museum of staples of corporate computing from a
decade ago, through many listings for ThinkPad 560s and 600s, Gateway Solos,
Dell Latitudes CPs and the occasional HP OmniBook. Nearly all of them had
their share of cosmetic blemishes, usually scratches on the covers. My
low-priced winner was a Dell Latitude CPt V offered by a seller with a
99.9percent feedback rating on 826 transactions -- a pretty solid bet.
included Windows 98 on its 6GB hard drive, a 24x CD-ROM, 256MB of RAM, a
Celeron processor, and a 14-inch screen. It even included a 56K PC Card
modem with XJack connector and a battery that held out for 1.5 hours. All
this could be yours for $89.99 plus $10 shipping, bringing this beauty to
your home for under $100.

Next up was a Toshiba Satellite 2210CDT, a 5.6 pound notebook with a 6GB
hard drive but only 64MB of RAM, a 12-inch screen and a nonfunctional
battery. However, in addition to its Windows 98 edition, it came with a
version of Microsoft Office preinstalled. It was $99.99 plus $18.95 for
shipping from a seller with a 99.4% positive feedback rating on over 5200

But two listings down was a much better deal for those who value trackpads
more and brands less -- a Twinhead 750MHz Pentium III with 128MB of RAM,
10GB hard drive, and 13-inch screen ripe for OpenOffice. However, caveat
emptor, as the seller noted that "we test what we know to test" and "we look
for what we know to look for." It emerged as the challenge's top-of-the-line

I found exactly one Mac notebook that won the challenge, a "Wall Street"
PowerBook G3 with a 2GB hard drive and 160MB of RAM, enough to run the
included end-of-the-line classic Mac OS 9.2 and Microsoft Office. The
seller, who had 98.7% positive feedback on 362 transactions, noted (in all
caps) that it was "the most versatile laptop I have ever used" but "has only
what's built in." Shipping was a hefty $35 but those using "Buy It Now" got
a "free full-sized keyboard and mouse." Could I get any luckier?

Indeed, I could. As veteran bidders know, patience pays on eBay. Relaxing
the "Buy It Now" requirement yielded better deals. Searching some recently
completed auctions, I saw that the opportunistic had snagged a
1.1GHzPentium III-powered ThinkPad T23 with Windows XP Pro, 512MB RAM,
a 30GB hard
drive and a combo drive with "some brightness towards the very bottom of the
screen" for $100, and a 500MHz iBook running OS X that had a CD tray cover
missing but was otherwise functional for the same price.
Your machines may vary, of course, and a great time to run the challenge
again will be after the holiday season when folks replace their aging PCs.
But it's clear that for those with modest needs that aren't put off by a few
scratches, a missing superficial cover, or scavenging a new battery, the
$100 laptop is attainable today.

Lucas Arruda
PSL-Brasil mailing list
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