Coby has long been the baron of bottom-barrel electronics. Their DVD players, TVs, and media players have filled their own enclave at discount stores for years, so it’s no surprise that this champion of cheap has now set its sights on breaking into the netbook market with machines that may out-minisize the competition.
Updated: We should have expected this one. Coby’s plan for a netbook seems to be a hoax. Ross Rubin gives us enough evidence. He contacted Coby who said that “this story, or any announcement regarding a netbook, was not (emphasis theirs) initiated, condoned or approved by Coby Electronics.”
The guys over at Liliputing found an interesting article from The Arkansas Indy Media, who, after speaking with Coby marketing director Bob Gee, reports that Coby plans to release a line of PCs unfortunately-nicknamed “midgets” due to their smaller-than-a-netbook sizes. Not much of the specs are known save that “midgets are slated to have 7 – 9 inch displays, keyboards that “look to be” a similar size as the Eee PC, and the ability to run “90 percent of consumer applications”.
Because the article reports that Coby “wouldn’t use Windows even if Microsoft offered it for free”, the OS will likely be a flavor of Linux that Coby can install on its machines without paying huge licensing fees.
Netbooks are becoming a weird trend to follow. When ASUS kicked off the races with the Eee PC 701, the focus was on compact devices with mobile practicality. Then consumers spurned small screens and tight keyboards as uncomfortably tiny. Next the market swung upwards toward 10+ inch displays and more robust keypads, culminating in the 12-inch Dell Mini 12. And performance, both in terms of battery life and processing ability, has always been a feature that makes or breaks a new mini-notebook.
Can Coby’s midgets truly compete in such an intense arena? Probably not, but the company still expects all sizes of it midget machines to collectively outsell all other portable computers within five years.
Sounds lofty, Coby. But maybe netbook desire has trickled to the discount consumer market (even with Linux, which mainstream consumers have shied away from in the past), and maybe these machines will be worth the purchase.