Friday, December 7, 2007

Everex gPC - Product Review

When the Everex gPC ($199 direct, without monitor) was announced, it received some fanfare as a bargain-subbasement "green" Linux-based PC, or the (quite unofficial) "Google PC," available at your local Wal-Mart. Everex, a firm known for producing cheap laptops for big-box stores, supposedly designed it for nontechnical yet Web-savvy users who like to go on the Web to see their friends' pages on social-networking sites or YouTube videos. Google and Google Apps are a central part of the gPC's raison, but thus far the gPC is not a Google-licensed product. "G" also stands for green, since the gPC uses a low-powered VIA C7 processor. But as with the Google aspect, gPC's energy-efficient status is to some extent smoke and mirrors, as I'll explain later. The gPC does have a green-colored theme and start-up screen, so it has that much going for it. But the good news ends there.

Hardware-wise, the gPC is true to the adage "you get what you pay for," and at least in this case, no compliment is intended. $199 buys you a low-power, relatively low-performing VIA C7-D processor, 512MB of memory, a 80GB hard drive (much more than the 4GB in a Zonbu or Eee PC), and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. While this is enough to run Ubuntu Linux, it is not going to run it speedily. The upside is that the processor consumes only 20W peak by itself, and during use, the PC did keep its overall power usage to the 20W-to-50W range. Add an LCD monitor and power consumption can go above 80W, but this isn't bad considering that a more powerful business PC marketed as energy-efficient, such as the HP rp5700, can use around 50W at idle by itself. More power-hungry gaming or multimedia desktops and large-screen monitors can consume upward of 500W to 1KW. Some nits here: The setup sheet rightly notes that, for the PC to fully function, you need a broadband Internet connection with an Ethernet cable. The picture on the setup sheet, however, points to the included modem (probably a normal 56K fax modem, but nonfunctioning; the gOS team is working on a modem driver), and the close-up shows a modem cable, not an Ethernet cable.


dbmacg said...

I installed a DVD-R/W drive
and Mandriva 8.0 on my GPC and it runs very nicely on the Internet. A cut-down Linux is unnecessary on this machine.

Movies, audio, the internet all work fine. Video is quicker than Nvidia 6100.

Did you actually test it?