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HCL leaptops into history

The newly launched 'MiLeap' laptops sport features just as some other low-cost laptops do — a much smaller display than a regular laptop, single processor and a flash drive amongst others, reports Ruchi Hajela.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2008 00:20 IST
Ruchi Hajela

A Laptop for just Rs 15K, sounds unbelievable? For several years, there were smartphones that boasted of powerful computing features offered by laptops for a price that computer makers could never manage. But that no longer seems to be the case.

On Tuesday, HCL Infosystems launched its X Series of ultra small laptops starting Rs 13,990.

The laptop sports features just as some other low-cost laptops do — a much smaller display than a regular laptop, single processor and a flash drive amongst others.

“The next generation products will run fit into one’s pocket,” said Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, HCL Infosystems.

HCL’s latest offering runs on a Celeron 400 MHz processor and has a 512 MB DDR II RAM. The base model of the laptop or the ‘leaptop’ as the company calls it does not have a hard disk drive although one can buy the one with an integrated HDD for Rs 15,990. Both the versions come preloaded with the free Linux operating system. There is a third version with a built-in HDD and Windows operating system and can set you back by Rs 16,990.

The laptops have a seven-inch display and are Wi-Fi enabled as well, which means you can access internet wirelessly if you are in a hotspot. “The laptops are manufactured in the company’s manufacturing facility located at Uttaranchal”, George Paul, Executive Vice President Marketing, told reporters.

Although some believe that the latest breed of cheap laptops is closer to being high-end organisers than being lower end laptops, it could still make a compelling buy for first timers.

In December 2007, UK based company ACi had launched its Ethos 7 priced at Rs 14,999 (excluding the four per cent tax). This too has features like a seven-inch display, a 512 MB DDR II RAM, Wi-Fi and a 40 GB HDD. The memory cannot be upgraded. By the end of this month, Asus, a Taiwanese player, plans to launch its Eee PC 4G with similar specs – seven-inch screen, Linux OS and a flash memory. The device is expected to be priced around Rs 16000.

Leading PC vendor Acer’s cheapest laptop costs Rs 19,999 (taxes extra) and has a 14.1-inch display whereas the entry level laptop from HP costs Rs 27,000 and features a Celeron 440 MHz processor, a 14” screen and a DVD drive. The cheapest Intex laptop is at Rs 27, 900.

Last year, Indian company Zenith launched a Rs 25,000 laptop, then touted as the cheapest. When asked whether the company has plans to introduce sub-Rs 15000 laptops, the company’s Executive Director Devita Saraf said, “We don’t plan to enter the sub 15000 category. Most players are offering a seven-inch screen, which cannot give you the same experience of a wider screen display,” She added that even PDAs have found limited success in India.