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    How low can computing power go?


    by TechVi

    One of the few growth areas of PC sales over the past few years have been netbooks. The low cost, low powered tiny machines have been a real boon for manufacturers like Asus and MSI, but now inexpensive machines look like they're hitting a whole new level, with a machine announced from Gecko that runs on AA batteries and costs $200. Is there a limit for how cheap we'll see these machines go? Todd Haselton from LAPTOP and Seth Porges from Popular Mechanics join us to talk about the bargain basement of computers. Todd thinks we'll keep going down the slippery slope, and that the only bottom we'll see is when computers are on sale at 7-11. Seth concurs, but more to the point he's skeptical as to whether we'll ever see one of these machines hit the market. On the other side, we talk cheap media centers and Asus' Eee Box. The machine is simple, a couple hundred bucks for an underpowered machine with an HDMI connection for hooking up to an HDTV, but hardware publication the Register says the machine can't play high definition content effectively, making the underpowered computer an odd fit for a media center. Seth is reluctant to believe the word of a single report, but that being said he'd still rather opt for a slightly more expensive computer, like one from Dell, that would more than enough horsepower to play HD content, and provide a better media center experience. Todd's take is similar, though naturally since he's a LAPTOP-er, he points out a $500 Gateway machine that also has HDMI, and in addition you can lug it around when its done playing movies. For me personally, low cost machines never see much appeal in my household. I'd rather do the crazy out-of-the-box things that these machines lack, and while the concept of replacable AA batteries makes me think I'd appreciate a $200 notebook that I could travel with, I'm just as likely to appreciate the larger machine, since I won't have to struggle with a limited lappy. What's your take? Do you think price trumps all, and it's better that more people can affo...