May 13, 2010

The Linkbook: South Africa's Latest Low-Cost Compact Computer

South Africa-based Vodacom announced the launch of the Linkbook, a low-cost compact computer designed specifically to provide users with simple and affordable Internet access. According to company’s press release, “The Linkbook’s operating system is geared primarily towards a user-friendly web experience; from email to social networking and browsing, as well as basic Open Office - everything a business entrepreneur, student or first-time PC user could need in a computer. Everything works off the desktop - including shortcuts to popular local online content and e-commerce websites - making it the most intuitive, simple to operate device of its kind available anywhere in the world.” (Photo: Vodacom)

The Linkbook, which has an embedded SIM card, as well as two USB ports, will be available on a 24-month contract at a subscription fee of R199 per month, including a monthly 300 MB data bundle, from participating Vodacom outlets, nationwide. The Linkbook website explains, “With an embedded HSDPA module for totally wireless internet connectivity, the attractively designed Linkbook is compact in size, has advanced design functionality, a user-friendly interface and the fact that everything works off the desktop - including easy-to-navigate shortcuts to popular online content and e-commerce web sites - makes it the most intuitive, simple to operate device of its kind.”

The Linkbook is targeted for markets where low PC penetration rates exist. While I have not tested the low-cost computer, I support any product that focuses on increasing Internet accessibility, thus closing the digital divide that exists in emerging and developing countries. In order to become a productive participant as an industrialized nation, low-cost computers and smartphones are essential for people to connect with a vital service, the Internet, which is used as an educational, economic, and health care tool to promotes sustainable development.

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