JCHyun is a Korean electronics company that makes electronic dictionaries. But the company is branching out into new territory with the awkwardly named Udia Mini Note T100 Office netbook. For the most part, it looks like any other netbook, with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, an 80GB HDD, Windows XP Home, a 0.3MP webcam, 3 USB ports and a multi-card reader. But there’s at least one thing that set this netbook apart from the competition: it comes with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 preloaded.
It’s funny, just yesterday a reporter asked me for comment on a story about office suites for netbooks. I’ll have more to share once that article is published. But in general, I pointed out that almost every netbook that ships with a Linux operating system includes OpenOffice.org or other office software like AbiWord and Gnumeric. It’s the Windows machines that often lack any office software. While Windows XP may be more familiar to many netbook users than Ubuntu or Xandros, that means that there are some things you can more easily do out of the box with a Linux machine than a Windows one, like create and edit spreadsheets.
Some netbook makers, like Asus have decided to bundle non-Microsoft software on Windows machines. My Eee PC 1000H, for example, came with StarOffice preloaded. If you’re not familiar with StarOffice, it’s the application suite that OpenOffice.org is based on. And of course you can access onlilne office suites like Google Docs or Zoho from any computer with a web browser and an internet connection.
But in my experience, no MS Office competitor does as good a job at opening documents created in MS Office as… well, MS Office. That’s not to say that you can’t create and edit excellent spreadsheets, text documents, or presentations using free software. But if you work with people who are constantly sending you documents and you need to be able to open them without any formatting issues, then it’s useful to have Microsoft Office. The reason most netbook makers don’t bundle it with machines is because it costs more than OpenOffice.org, StarOffice, or AbiWord, all of which are free.
It looks like JCHyun is gambling that it’s worth spending a few bucks to include Office if it makes the company’s netbook stand out from the crowd a bit. And overall Office doesn’t seem to be adding too much to the price. The Udia Mini Note T100 Office will reportedly cost about 649,000(KRW) or $492 US.