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Everex gPC
Dec. 28, 2007

When the Everex gPC ($199 direct, without monitor) was announced, it received some fanfare as a bargain-subbasement "green" Linux-based PC, or the (quite unofficial) "Google PC," available at your local Wal-Mart. Everex, a firm known for producing cheap laptops for big-box stores, supposedly designed it for nontechnical yet Web-savvy users who like to go on the Web to see their friends' pages on social-networking sites or YouTube videos. Google and Google Apps are a central part of the gPC's raison d'Ítre, but thus far the gPC is not a Google-licensed product. "G" also stands for green, since the gPC uses a low-powered VIA C7 processor. But as with the Google aspect, gPC's energy-efficient status is to some extent smoke and mirrors, as I'll explain later. The gPC does have a green-colored theme and start-up screen, so it has that much going for it. But the good news ends there.

The gPC was slapped together to sell to Web-savvy people who have very little pocket money. My advice to these people? Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista, or get the ASUS Eee PC 4G laptop. This advice also goes for tech-savvy readers looking for a simple Internet PC for Grandma or Uncle Phil, or for a really cheap PC to tinker with and rebuild. This definitely isn't that PC. It's touted as a system for those who don't want to deal with installing Linux, and don't want the expense of a Vista or Mac OS X PC. In the end, though, it has so many shortcomings I would have a problem recommending it to anyone, regardless of their tech smarts (or lack thereof).

Hardware-wise, the gPC is true to the adage "you get what you pay for," and at least in this case, no compliment is intended. $199 buys you a low-power, relatively low-performing VIA C7-D processor, 512MB of memory, a 80GB hard drive (much more than the 4GB in a Zonbu or Eee PC), and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. While this is enough to run Ubuntu Linux, it is not going to run it speedily. The upside is that the processor consumes only 20W peak by itself, and during use, the PC did keep its overall power usage to the 20W-to-50W range. Add an LCD monitor and power consumption can go above 80W, but this isn't bad considering that a more powerful business PC marketed as energy-efficient, such as the HP rp5700, can use around 50W at idle by itself. More power-hungry gaming or multimedia desktops and large-screen monitors can consume upward of 500W to 1KW. Some nits here: The setup sheet rightly notes that, for the PC to fully function, you need a broadband Internet connection with an Ethernet cable. The picture on the setup sheet, however, points to the included modem (probably a normal 56K fax modem, but nonfunctioning; the gOS team is working on a modem driver), and the close-up shows a modem cable, not an Ethernet cable.

The built-in VIA UniChrome Pro IGP graphics chip was able to handle the 1,280-by-1,024, 17-inch monitor that Everex sent me for testing. Curiously, the gPC defaulted to 1,280-by-800 resolution, cutting off parts of the screen and making the clock an oval instead of a circle. I was able to set the correct resolution, but the machine reverted to 1,280 by 800 after a reboot. You can set 1,280 by 1,024 as a default resolution in the gPC's configuration, but that's a step that may not be apparent to a novice user.

Another nit to pick about gPC's green claims: While the VIA processor is low-power-consuming and Everex claims the gPC is fully RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) compliant, it has no Energy Star rating or EPEAT certification. These days, I would consider these certifications necessary to keep the energy efficiency hounds happy.

To continue reading this article by Joel Santo Domingo at PCMag.com, go here.


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