What does a $40 Windows computer look like?

sylvania wifi netbook

Sometimes you see something so strange you just have to have it. That’s exactly what happened to me on DailySteals.com a few weeks ago. Ultra-cheap Android tablets are a dime a dozen, and you can find them at your nearest Walmart or CVS. Cheap Windows devices are much more rare, which is why I was instantly captivated when I saw this $40 Windows netbook.

What is it?

The official name for this little device is a little hard to find. Most people just call it the Sylvania 7″ WiFi Netbook, and that’s good enough for me. This device was made way back in 2006. For a frame of reference at that time no one had heard of an iPhone or “Galaxy phone.” Speaking of smartphones, remember your first one? Chances are it had better specs than this netbook.

This bad boy is powered by a whopping 400MHz ARM processor with 128MB of RAM. The original Motorola DROID had a 600MHz processor and 256MB of RAM. The 7-inch display on the netbook has 480×800 resolution, which is just about the same as the DROID’s 3.7-inch display. The one thing this little device has a lot of is USB ports (three of them).

This device was made as a “basic internet device.” It has a web browser (Internet Explorer) that can access most mobile sites, and probably many full sites back in 2006. You’re also supposedly able to watch YouTube videos, but I haven’t gotten than to work. Someone back in the day would have likely bought this as a casual coffee shop device.

So is it really Windows?

windows ce

Technincally, yes. The Sylvania WiFi netbook runs something called Windows CE. It was designed by Microsoft to run on devices with minimal storage. It’s looks like Windows 95, and it actually operates much the same, but you can’t do nearly as much. You can’t install regular .exe programs, or far as I can tell, anything in general.  Windows CE is the most stripped down version of Windows you will ever find. It doesn’t even have Paint.

Unless you’ve used Windows CE in the past, you probably never will. If you’re super interested in Windows CE, for whatever reason, read more about it here.

Now what?

Even if this thing just collects dust in a corner, which it might, it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come. Doing something as simple as a Google search on such minimal hardware made me want to pull my hair out. How crazy is it that in just around 6 years my phone is immeasurably faster than a “computer?” Technology is an amazing thing. Next time you’re telling at Windows for wanting to restart just think about Windows CE.

Now I want to hear from you. What should I do with this $40 device? If you have any ideas let me know below!

  • Bill Wood

    If you could get some sort of ARM-based .exe for apache or something, it could be a server.

  • we should host winsource on it

  • Daniel Greenwood

    You could probably run an ARM Linux distribution on it (just from the USB drive or even install it); you’d get a lot more program compatibility that way.

  • Edgar Cervantes

    That thing is a joke! lol. Use it as a mousepad.

  • immewnity

    I remember WinCE! Good times, good times…

  • Jack J

    where can you buy one , because I have a thing for cheap electronics

  • Jack J

    you should see if possible to get Windows XP running on it, because some people have gotten it running on 200 megahertz