Via readies range of low-cost computer designs

Taiwanese hardware vendor Via Technologies Inc. plans to introduce a range of low-cost computer designs aimed at users in emerging markets, a company executive said Wednesday.

The designs are part of a Via project called Terra PC and will be unveiled at the Via Technology Forum (VTF), scheduled for the first week of June in Taipei, said Richard Brown, the company’s associate vice president of marketing, in a telephone interview. VTF will be held alongside the Computex exhibition in Taipei.

Despite its name, the Terra PC project actually refers to several different devices that will be priced between US$100 and $250, Brown said. The devices are expected to hit markets in India later this year, and will be offered by Via in partnership with other companies, such as Internet service providers, he said.

The Terra PC range includes a fully featured PC, priced at $250, including a hard-disk drive and a monitor, Brown said. It also comes with a flash memory-based Media Station and a $100 Communication Station, that uses flash memory and is designed for broadband Internet applications, such as VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), he said.

All of these devices will be based on processors and chipsets from Taipei-based Via, Brown said. The company has not yet decided what operating system to use with the devices. “We’re still very open. We’re looking at both Linux and Windows,” Brown said.

In addition to the reference designs, Via is developing a series of product bundles consisting of Terra PC clients and a server, targeted at specific applications, such as schools or an Internet cafe, Brown said.

The bundles are being developed as part of an effort to find new distribution channels to get the Terra PC devices to users who can best take advantage of them. “We want to be as flexible as we can,” Brown said.

Additional details about the Terra PC effort will be announced in June.

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