MANILA, JUNE 26, 2008
(STAR) By Eden Estopace - Coming at the heels of the launch of the world’s fastest computer valued at $100 million in the United States, is the unveiling of an ultra low-cost desktop PC in the local market which retails for only P10,000.

Super computers may be the rage in the global technology landscape, but reality bites: low-cost computing is the greater need.

In yet another effort to “break the barriers of affordability,” Intel and the Commission on Information Communications Technology (CICT) recently introduced the “Nettop ng Bayan,” a custom-made desktop for the millions who have yet to acquire their first PC.

Intel Philippines country manager Ricardo Banaag and CICT chairman Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III emphasize that the Nettop costs less than a mobile phone, yet it has all the basic features of a regular PC with Internet capability.

With Intel Celeron 1.2 GHz processor, built-in 10/100 LAN, 512MB RAM, 80GB hard disk drive, front USB and audio ports, among others, the Nettop is powerful enough for Web browsing and word processing, e-mail, instant messaging, photo and video viewing and basic online gaming.

The Nettop, says Roxas-Chua, is an Internet-centric device because the program’s main goal is to boost local PC ownership and eventually enable more people to connect to the Internet using Intel’s low-cost platform innovation.

“We have one of the lowest broadband and PC penetration and one of the reasons is the cost of owning a PC and maintaining connectivity,” says Roxas-Chua. “With this public-private sector partnership, we hope to be able to raise ICT awareness among all segments of the population and to serve as a model for future partnerships.”

To make it more affordable, the Nettop can be purchased via credit card installment at local retailers Villman and Enigma. Roxas-Chua says they are exploring other installment options as they introduce more retailers across the country.

Connectivity packages are also available via PLDT My­DSL and SmartBro. Those with existing PLDT landlines have the option to upgrade to a MyDSL Plan 990 by just adding P300 to the monthly phone bill for an unlimited broadband connection.

The Nettop’s retail price of P10,000 does not include software yet but a Vista starter edition can be installed for only P1,999 or one may opt for free Linux-based operating system. Future models of the Nettop, says Banaag, will feature the new Intel Atom processor.

Atom, formerly codenamed Diamondville, is Intel’s smallest processor, designed for nettops and netbooks, which are new categories of simple, affordable devices for the Internet.

Intel’s foray into low-cost computing is anchored on the goal of providing a low-cost device for the underserved sector because the company believes that PC ownership and Internet connectivity are now considered necessities.

In fact, Banaag says, market demand for low-cost computing is expected to grow tenfold by 2011. Yet less than 20 percent of Filipinos are Internet users.

Intel and CICT are hoping that this affordable PC project, which started in 2004 under its joint “PC ng Bayan” program, will address the need of first-time buyers and those looking for a secondary PC.

Incidentally, the introduction of the Nettop ng Bayan is also a major boost to the government’s effort to provide more public schools with computing devices.

“If we can purchase PCs for schools at cheaper rates, we can roll out more PCs in public schools,” says Roxas-Chua.

The CICT is the government’s lead agency for e-government initiatives that focus on harnessing the potential of ICT for nation-building.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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