Laptops

I just ordered the world's cheapest laptop


Brand new for $150. That's right, $150. With free shipping. From Sweden. Larry Dignan's blog post on ZDNet about the Medison Celebrity laptop set off a flurry of excitement here at TechRepublic last week. Sure, the Celebrity is a bare-bones kind of deal (14-inch LCD, Intel Celeron 1.5 GHz chip, 40 GB hard drive, 256 MB of memory, Fedora Red Hat and office apps pre-installed), but at $150, heck, I can stock up and just pull a fresh laptop out of the closet every time one breaks. I can accidentally leave my laptop in a hotel room on a business trip or spill coffee on the keyboard without the world instantly coming to an end. Seriously, I think an affordable, stripped-down machine like this one would make a great secondary, semi-disposable portable computer for those of us who don't need to do a lot of power computing on the road. Even TechRepublic content guru Bill Detwiler wants one as a Christmas present for his four-year-old daughter. For months Bill has been eyeing various starter machines for his young prodigy, and at $150, the Celebrity sounds like the best deal going, at least on paper. But is it really the Right Tool for the Job? TechRepublic senior editor Mark Kaelin is chomping at the bit to find out and has volunteered to personally donate an extra 256 MB of RAM to the cause just to see the Medison Celebrity really scream.

First, though, we have to get our eager mitts on one of these babies. I've already placed my order with 2Checkout.com, but I've been told I'm looking at a four- to six-week wait, minimum (and possibly up to three months). And the longer I wait, I'm sure the more my coworkers' and friends' jeering, skeptical comments will get to me. These suspicious buggers have been sending me links like these for almost a week:

Comment to an Engadget article:

Reasons not to trust Medison, manufacturer of the Celebrity laptop:

  • They're a Swedish company without a Swedish address or phone number
  • Their only address appears to be a residential mail drop in the UK
  • shared with a number of companies that appear to be barely legitimate
  • Their UK office doesn't have a phone number
  • A Google search for "Medison" turns up nothing
  • The laptop photo appears to be that of a different company's product
  • You can't build a laptop for $150. The LCD panel itself costs at least $70 in volume

From Slashdot:

The more you dig into the details of this company the more fishy it starts to seem. I would suggest any potential buyers be wary on this one.

From 2Checkout.com (the company that actually processes orders for the Medison Celebrity) in response to a post in the Forums section of their site:

Given the pricing and presentation, your doubts and concerns regarding the Medison Celebrity are understandable and we sympathize with your apprehension. If you are unsure about your purchase you may well be better served to stand by see how the situation plays out. Doubts regarding the integrity of 2Checkout or our desire to provide safe, simple, service oriented online transaction are without merit however, and even if you choose not to purchase this product we hope for future opportunities to provide you with an e-commerce solution you can trust for both your sales and purchases online.

Oh man. When Medison's own retail partner is publicly distancing itself from the company and its product, can that be a good sign? And finally, a friend sent me this:

From Flipshark.com: The Romanian Laptop Scam

In the past few months this scam has become an epidemic victimizing an endless number of eBay users. This scam is running so rampant, that by the time one scammer's auction is reported and shut down, another two have taken its place. Basically the scam is carried out as follows: The scammer sets up a fake (or shill) auction selling brand new high ticket items. The items most commonly used in perpetrating this scam are computers, laptops (ibooks/imacs), cameras, and other expensive electronics.

My first reaction: Silence punctuated by nervous laughter. Second reaction: Snarky e-mail to my friend. "But this is different. This is a Swedish laptop scam." Third reaction: Check my credit card statement for fraudulent purchases. Every five minutes. For seven days straight. And cuss our executive editor Jason Hiner up and down the halls of TechRepublic for setting us on the trail of the Celebrity in the first place. (Damn his oily hide.) But the truth is, no matter how jaded we all think we've become as consumers, greed really does spring eternal, at least when it comes to tech toys that we can test and crack open. And it's not just base greed, either. I, for one, want to believe the Medison Celebrity is the real thing because I want to believe that corporate do-goodism is alive and well in the world. So I'm shaking off my paranoia and making a bold prediction. Four to six weeks from now, we will unveil a Right Tool image gallery of the Medison Celebrity on TechRepublic. And to the twenty or so doomsaying mockers (you all know who you are) who have been spamming me with consumer fraud alerts for the past seven days? Every single one of you has ended your messages to me the same way: "The Medison Celebrity is obviously fake. But if you do get one, and it actually works, be sure to tell me. Because I'll want one too."

Folks, start saving those pennies. $1.67 a day for the next 90 days should about do it.

93 comments
Iam_Mordac
Iam_Mordac

bumpity, bump, bump, bump... Did it ever arrive?

Don
Don

Did you ever get the Medison Celebrity? Or was it just another Scam? Don

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Blatant bump to push this back up the list. Inquiring minds want to know.

jdclyde
jdclyde

how can someone start a discussion like that and NEVER wrap it up? Odds are, it ended badly though, or she would have been dancing in the streets, and rubbing her new laptop in all the nay-sayers faces.... B-)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I found the "manufacturer's" (quotes used since you have to actually produce something to be a manufacturer) web site yesterday. Says they are going to start shipping in Feb '08.

colin.hempsey
colin.hempsey

I did read in another forum that the Medison Celebrity web site had gone down for a while. It's back up, revamped and doesn't look too bad if you don't count the bad English. Does this mean that the Medison Celebrity is now a reality? Have you received yours yet?

nola2590
nola2590

Well, I haven't received mine yet and the money has not been taken out of my checking. I am still just waiting to see if I really receive it. It's been a couple of months, so if they were really taking orders it should be coming soon. I figure as long as no money disappears out of my account, it was worth a try. I will let you know first if and when I ever get it.

D. Harold Stein
D. Harold Stein

You might want to check your Credit Report, this may be an Identity Theft Scam.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Why bother with identity theft? Once they charge your card, IF it is chardged that is, they have 90 days to ship or refund. IF they refund after 3 months, hey collect interest on your money. Multiply that by the number of people they could chanrge and it adds up, identiffy theft would never be a worthwhile scam at that point. You'd still get your money back so you don't lose out either. The only people losing are the Swedish banks that pay the interest.

pmbrent
pmbrent

I have a reciept, they never charged the account. Poor way to run a scam. Has anyone seen a lap top out of them? PM

pmbrent
pmbrent

Its ok, my credit is so bad that an idenity thief would be arrested. Feel sorry for anyone trying to do that. PM

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

When they stand to make millions in interest simply from holding your money for 3 months(as per thier agreement), why even bother with identity theft? Being performed on such a grand scale, that would be a hideously moronic idea which would result in jail time for all involved, with very little investigation required. It's not exactly covert, it's too public.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Did you get it yet?

carareynolds
carareynolds

...as someone else pointed out, possibly the more interesting question is: Has my credit card been charged? And the answer to that is no. Trust me, if either a laptop or a charge appears on my credit card, you guys will be the first to know!

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

of course she didn't. The better question is, was the credit card charged?

tadlem43
tadlem43

gotta love those who still believe in Santa Clause! i want one, too!! let us know....

JCitizen
JCitizen

Be sure and return to TR and post it! A lot of us will be eating chish; but it would be funny to trump the nay-sayer crowd.

tothy1234
tothy1234

You guys just killed my excitement; that price is three times cheaper than the cost of the cheapest Laptop,thanks though. When the deal is too good think eh... thrice :)

eknebs
eknebs

I will not be suprise if it turns out that the TechR rep gets his $150 laptop. It will probably come in a better shape than advertised. Aren't you guys worried that by your order you may be endosing a scam that could consume a lot of us? Do you realize how much faith techs like me put in the judgement of techs like you????

1Rab
1Rab

Good Point!

pmbrent
pmbrent

I decided to invest in one. If it is fraud its story will be so big that it will be persued. second, the parts are not exactly 2008 first line units. I us a HP 7030 us for most of my work, I have 3 grand children. as long as it comes I could give it to the grandkids. The up side is It may be just a good deal on Chinese lowball from 2005 or so. I checked the prices of some comparable units, 349 after rebates, and the standard Microsoft programing. I am not sure what kind of mark up the software adds. Linux is free. Its a crap shoot, but 150 bucks isn't going to kill me.

jtlo38
jtlo38

Hi Cara, I posted a suggestion on "2CO's" blog, that they might want to checkout "Medison" and post the results. The following is their reply....(P.s., Good Luck). JTLO38 ------------------------------- ---Hello Jtlo38, We have been keeping a close eye on the concerns and we have been investigated every issue that has been brought to our attention. Yeah, I know that it sounds like I'm beating around the bush again, saying the company line or however you want to put it. I have not personally been in contact with the people at Medison, but I know that others here have. I know that they are working on getting answers to everyone's questions and clearing up a lot of gray areas. One gray area we don't have is how 2Checkout works. The total charges from 2Checkout for any Medison Celebrity order to this point is $150. We do not go back and change the amount that we charged people. If Medison decides to increase the price or set up shipping charges, that will apply to any order that happens after the change is made. It will not be retroactive or anything like that. Of course, Medison has the option of going through all of the orders and canceling them at the lower price then asking everyone to pay again. I doubt they will, but if they do it will be up to the customer to decide if they want to pay a higher price. Medison can also charge for shipping on delivery. Yes, they should have stated up front that they would do this. And if they do go this route for shipping charges, the customer can refuse delivery and contact us for a refund, which we will be more than happy to provide. I'm sorry if my answers still seem vague to you. Trust me, I wish I had the answers to every question and concern that has been brought to our attention. When we have more information we will release it. Until then, know that we will protect customers from losing any money that is spent with 2Checkout. Julie ----------------------------

JCitizen
JCitizen

Looks a lot like this and the Clevo M540 series in A model type. Sager is a reseller for Clevo along with Alienware, VoodooPC, Falcon Northwest, etc. With Clevo's denial doing business with Medison, this is a definit alarm bell. The kooks at Medison even claim they started a factory in Brazil - Yeah! That's the ticket!

nola2590
nola2590

I just ordered that laptop the other day too. I have a four to six week wait. I will wait and keep checking my credit card statement too. I also read another article where Cnet editor Matthew Elliot has also ordered this laptop. He is going to keep us updated on it also. If this is for real, and I sure hope it is for my bank account's sake, I have my daughter's first Christmas present!

jdumont
jdumont

How long can a company survive selling laptops for 150.00? Not much longer than scabs doing onsite tech support for a measley 50 dollars. Ask yourself, "Whose paying for groceries down there?"

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

The CEO was interviewed and claimed he had a similar business model to Dell, though on much smaller scale. They make no margin on the original product, but are hoping to pick up partnerships with companies such as MS who will pay millions to have their OS included as an upgrade. conceptually interesting but realistic? http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=5869

a7med.saber
a7med.saber

The product appears in the Website is a CAIRA model. its the same laptop i am writing this message from now. That's mean this company is a FAKE one. Don't waste your money. But the site of CAIRA is still under construction.

shraven
shraven

Well this is not encouraging from any manufacturer, regardless of how legit: "Due to the unexpectedly high traffic to our support line past 24 hours it broke down." Um... why do so many people need support for your fine product? The site couldn't scream scam any louder. But it also reeks of some guy in his garage selling surplus. It could be legit - but if so, it's likely off-lease machines that are being reformatted with Linux and sold. It doesn't say refurb, but the laws may differ over there. The specs certainly would be in line with a machine 3-5 years old and coming off lease. And the huge lead time on shipping, plus the mention that the machine would be set up for country region of the order's ship to is a good sign that these are not in stock, but will be procured and configed after your order... when stock becomes available. personally I'd rather go to a site like Geeks.com and order an aknowledged refurb for a few more $$ that will arrive in a reasonable amount of time. Currently the cheapest machine is a similarly spec'd Dell Celeron with Win XP Pro for $279.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Staples was been edging the three hundred mark earlier this summer. The news out in the last week or so leads me to believe all laptop prices will be dropping soon. People seem to prefer them over desktops; and the manufacturers could make a killing on volume if they had any guts.

lastchip
lastchip

If the OLPC organisation can only just achieve a $150 target, how do you think a commercial organisation that exists to make profit can?

JCitizen
JCitizen

An old American principle that US business hasn't totally forgot; hence the rapid drop in cell phone prices. The laptop in question probably isn't anymore sophisticated than some of the inexpensive PDA's out now. A 40Gb hard drive would go cheap in volume selling as nobody building computers is using them anymore and inventories are probably high.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

and people will try and take your money if they can hide behind obfustication, corporate shells, unlisted phone#s, lying websites, etc. And I also believe in principal of checking out biz before you buy. This was a miserable failure in this case. No one in their right mind would buy from company like this in light of lack of established trade, lies about model of PC, lies about addresses, etc.

JCitizen
JCitizen

the hope that these poor guys didn't get ripped off. That for once the capitalistic system didn't do the typical thing and succumb to a nut job greedy entrepreneur(crook).

lastchip
lastchip

If I'm wrong, I'll apologise in advance; but I just can't see it. $150 at current rates is about ?75 in the UK. A laptop for that, with free shipping? Dream on! You'd pay more on eBay for a second hand one.

Tempest_Storm
Tempest_Storm

Well if i had read about this laptop off ebay or a similar site i would have said it was a massive con. Since there are more and more people talking about it and no-one has closed the website down it starts to look more likely that its true. OK yea the cost of shipping and producing would cost more than the 78GBP, however things are getting cheaper and the most expensive part of the production is the labour!! Plus you also have to think that the parts they are using are quite old now, the new parts are driving down the cost of the old parts. The only thing i can say is im glad TechRepublic are checking it out. If they dont lose out on their money it might be worth looking into, until then i will reserve judgement!!

inno4te
inno4te

If you do get it..LET ME KNOW @ inno4te@yahoo.com

shraven
shraven

You've just been added to 1000 spam lists! Never post your email address on forums in a recognizable format. Bots are standing by ready to harvest your data! At least: inno4te"at"yahoo"dot"com

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

There are spaces added to it, as it sits it is not a valid address and would not be compiled properly in bot controlled spam lists. If sent out, it would bounce and then be deeleted. Plus it just a YAHOO account anyway, not a real email address. I use my excite account for all kidns of crap without a concern, my REAL personal email has been spam free for over 6 years now.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

And you didn't help your case with your reactions. First you insult him, then you slam him. Do you expect he hung around to your last sentence? I don't.

GoodOh
GoodOh

Absolutely right NN! Calling people names like 'noob' says more about the name caller than the person being tagged. At the rate of change we'll all be a 'noob' in something sometime in the next couple of years and and we'd like a helping hand from those ahead of us in whatever that is as much as those coming into areas we know a little (or more) about would appreciate it from us. What goes around comes around. On the main question. This seems like it might well be a scam, time will tell. On the main point thought I have been looking at the '$100 laptop' and the other serious ideas floating around and I can think of so many business cases where a very simple laptop using a removable thumb drive in place of a hard-drive would be so useful. A room full of people with weak and limited portable machines that handle text and simple processes that people actually have and carry (because it's light and cheap enuf) is going to be so much more powerful than a theoretical mega-gig road-warrior machine that isn't in the room. All so much better if they form networks as most plans include. The idea that all the data is on a thumbdrive tied to the user so the machine can be broken or stolen with no data loss would be fantastic in so many ways. Every time the middle manager goes to the counter for a new coffee the data goes with him/her and the cheap (almost disposable) machine is all that is at risk. I think there is a case for businesses to think hard about these options and pay double costs to provide a subsidy towards the charitable educational intent of the serious 'cheap laptop' programs. Also, how much more encouraging for a junior programmer to know that a clever simple program may have a market amongst business users on the same type of machine. I think this could be a very interesting development. But I do think this example is probably not real and that those of us excited by the idea should wait for the 'not-for-profit' version to appear and get a double win by supporting those. Anyway, that's my two cents.

riotmanager
riotmanager

Well Cara, for your sake I hope it's true! But any website that has no phone contacts and says their support phone line is down sounds fishy at best (Sweden and fish; what a combination!). Good Luck! I think you're gonna need it.

Oktet
Oktet

As soon as you get the Medison Celebrity Laptop, let me know. I would not mind having a couple of laptops for that price, especially running Linux. However, I was just wondering why does it take so long for the Laptop to arrive; four- to six-weeks wait, minimum (and possibly up to three months). I might forget that I ordered a laptop if I have to wait three months.

golncor
golncor

It is probably taking a boat ride through China to get here. Since it is free shipping, they sure as hell ain't gonna send it overnight delivery.

JCitizen
JCitizen

at the volume they are getting hit with right now; providing they aren't crooks. They claim they build their own - they should have known to build a big inventory before makin a move like this. But who lets their inventory swell up nowdays?! That is a huge risk in and of itself!

blckpanther
blckpanther

I'm not the richest person in the world, but lets face it... 150.00 either way you spend it you can't go wrong. you Either learn a lesson or you get a computer. I too believe in people being decent, So here's hoping ya get it!

Nodisalsi
Nodisalsi

I would assume it to be one of: 1. A scam 2. A cynical attempt by a M$oft subsidery to subvert OLPC because it's using Linux Besides, as soon as I see the word "Celeron" in any hardware configuration I tend run away screaming "No Effin Way" in any case.

wmoore
wmoore

Don't worry about your credit card statements, as 2CheckOut.com is the company that is responsible for it. PCI certified. 2CheckOut.com's return policies will cover your liability as well.

oicdata
oicdata

The CC industry apparently has ample money to support the criminal activities. You seldom hear of people going to jail for the millions they steal... does it even happen? I would rather have lower interest payments, at least lower than what one had to go to the Mafia to get in the 1950's! Lower the interest rates and other 'surprise, you didn't read the small print' charges. Get rid of the 'believe it or not we are going to charge you for that!' charges. Perhaps the corporate world will begin to care about stealing. I don't believe they need to worry about what they call "shrinkage" because of the "inflamation" at the other end where they take the money in! LMAO...

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Check out the vigorish on your payday loan. They make the old "4 for 3" loans from Jimmy the Banker seem like a bargain.

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