nohrtec-gecko-edubook-2I managed to get a few more details about the NorhTec Gecko EduBook netbook. You know, the one I told you about yesterday that can run on AA batteries. First, it looks like being able to run on AAs isn’t the same thing as being able to run on alkaline batteries. The netbook will be designed to use either NiMH or Li-Ion batteries. The NiMH version will use AA batteries, while the Li-Ion version may use a more traditional battery pack, which NorhTec says may be able to run for as long 16 hours, which is about 4 times longer than the NiMH version.

But the advantage of using AA NiMH batteries instead of a more traditional battery pack is that replacement batteries are much cheaper and easier to find. So if you need to replace a dead set of batteries or just want to carry around some extra battery power with you, it should be easy to pick up some batteries wherever you are.

Right now NorhTec is working to make these laptops available in Africa. The goal is to ship some barebones units without flash storage, WiFi, or batteries. This will bring the cost, including shipping, down to about $160. Then recipients can setup the netbooks by adding an SD card or other storage, batteries, and WiFi modules if necessary. Because of the EduBook’s modular nature, it should take just a few minutes to set up a system.

I asked whether NorhTec plans to make the EduBook available in developed markets as well. After all, the OLPC XO Laptop was designed for students in developing nations, but the group has managed to sell a small number of the laptops in the US and Europe in a handful of special “give one get one” events. I imagine the EduBook could be even more appealing due to its modular/hackable nature and unique battery system. A NorhTec representative replied that while the company is focused on the developing world, it would be happy to sell the laptops anywhere.

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18 replies on “NorhTec Gecko EduBook heading first to Africa, other developing markets”

  1. I’d like to learn more about the hacking possibilities of this thing, but I fear this thread will soon be pumped off the page by Brad’s prodigious article posting.

    So I’m trying to start a thread in the Liliputing Forums>General News>Hardware and am taking the liberty of hawking and linking it here in hopes that interested people will give us their thoughts:
    https://www.liliputing.com/forums/index.php?topic=622.0

  2. What screen? Pixel Qi – if so, then get one for testing. I know of some non-profits that like the idea of using a laptop for accounting machine (and the AA battery one would be perfect at it would last a long time AND BATTERY would always be available.

    I would like to try it – but only if it has power saving like OLPC XO and the screen too.
    Could use 15 minute rechargable battery system for AA that I use now for digital camera and has 12 volt car adapter… – I like the AA idea.

  3. Michael Barnes of NorhTec (the man in the video) has more recently posted 3 times on the original engadget page that Brad linked, explaining more about pricing, configuring, the reasons for shipping barebones, etc.

    I think it probably looks like he’s talking about buying single units from a dealer instead of from Norhtec, but I’m not sure.

    Look for the “mbarnes” posts about halfway and 3/4ths down the page and near the end.
    https://www.engadget.com/2009/05/07/next-gecko-netbook-to-have-bigger-screen-aa-power-200-price

    Edit: On second thought, in one place, he says “Our price to end-users fully configured will be under $200.00 — probably $195.00.” “OUR price to END USERS” sounds a lot like they would sell to us individuals.

    Also, it definitely does Windows XP.

    1. They sell their other small computers in quantity one to end users. But don’t get too excited until yo uactually try to buy one and discover the shipping and handling charges. I looked at one of their little hang on the back of an LCD monitor units once and the unit price wasn’t too bad. Delivered it was just a wee bit too high for me to click BUY.

      They need a US distributor badly.

  4. I don’t think this will come here. It seems like a promising idea and its modular nature is interesting but I guarantee after you add all the basics and a couple bells and whistles the price would be too high for this toy. It would be better to just go out and pick up a Dell Mini 9 or a refurbished Asus Eee 901 than it would be to take a risk on a non-proven company and a questionable product.

    1. Just from responses in the comments, I think the idea of getting to use AA batteries, if rechargeables, is popular enough that it could work. I don’t think they’d sell it in its bare-bones state here, and if the company was getting a package deal on all the add-ons it would add less than $100 to the cost. For $250 or less, people might still pay for the battery concept – for the kids’ computers, anyway.

      Then again, I doubt this has Windows…

  5. Today’s rechargables don’t really have the heavy metals of years ago. Also, even when they will no longer take a charge (from solar or wind sources?) they still have a monetary value in the recycle market. I doubt seriously that you would find them littered around. This unit is probably more eco-friendly than most netbooks. Also, with it’s potential for upgrading it could have a longer useful life, further delaying the day it ends up in a land fill.

  6. The NorhTec website is better written than the .pdf: https://www.norhtec.com/products/gecko/index.html

    AllBusiness says, quoting the Xcore CEO, “The Xcore86 fills the gap between traditional x86 chipsets and ARM based System on Chips (Soc)…”: https://www.allbusiness.com/technology/software-services-applications-computer/11740317-1.html

    More info about the Xcore86 mamacitaboard (little mother 😉 to coin a term 🙂 https://www.xcore86.com/

    I was about to say I would go with the Li-Ion batteries. It looks like a standard cellphone battery. You could carry a spare in your shirt pocket and surf until you collapsed.

    But then I saw Linc’s post (gulp,gulp) and pictured people slogging through discarded Li-Ion batteries…

    1. The only thing missing is to get the IBM foundry to turn out the Xcore86 in 0.28nm.

  7. I can only imagine village in Africa littered with NiMH or Li-Ion batteries after these thing sweep through then become abandoned tech. We really need ‘Green Tech’ to come to the rescue here. Solar, Sterling engines, dynamos, wind, or something.

    One far Li-Ion battery is bad enough, but thousands of these ‘heavy metal’ batteries being used and discarded just scare me.

    Who’s been working on Protoculture? Where are the Robotec Masters when you need them? Just purée the Invid Flower of Life in a food processor, toss it in a battery shell, and you can fly a jet with it! Where’s that tech Steve Jobs? Hey, Dean Kamen maybe you should get off that Segway and make something useful?!

    1. Not a problem. One of the advantages of NiMH is that is not dangerous, unlike NiCad or Li-ion. Remember that OLPC picked NiMH for that very reason, it is about as green a tech as is currentlypossible.

  8. In the absence of any mention of on-board charging, this may work with alkalines (and you could probably pull off the charging circuit anyway, given how modular it is, if there is one). However, whilst the last video didn’t out and out state there was no on-board charger, it did specifically refer to charging spare batteries outside the machine, and given the other very bare bones attributes of the machine, I would personally err on the side of reading between the lines and assuming that anything not mentioned isn’t featured.

    1. I contacted NohrTec, and here’s what they said: “The batteries will
      charge in the unit.”

      They also said the computer is not designed to run on alkaline
      batteries. I don’t know what would happen if you put them in, but at
      the very least it seems like it would be a waste of batteries since
      you’d probably burn through them pretty quickly.

      1. Fair enough! Rechargeables used to be inferior to alkalines, but have edged ahead in recent years. Alkalines could still save the day in a tricky situation, and will probably be fine so long as you don’t plug it in (or can disconnect the charging circuit).

  9. Stick them in the liliputing store – see if you get any takers.
    We can “build them out” on the forum.

    1. A great idea–I was wondering how long it would take for hacking info to coalesce to one main forum. It would be convenient if it were Liliputing.

      P.S. I vote that we go with the “Norhtec” spelling 😉

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