Review: Sylvania G Netbook

[Editor’s note: Looks like the Sylvania Netbook we reviewed wasn’t a fully baked version. We’ll be getting a finalized demo unit soon and will update this post to reflect that.] 

Sylvania? Yeah, the light bulb people! Turns out they also make a host of consumer electronics, including TVs, monitors and even remote controls. And now Sylvania is the latest to jump into the ultra-cheap mini-notebook game. Someone should have told them to look before they leap. To be blunt, the results are ugly.

The Sylvania G Netbook is a fairly direct response to the Asus Eee PC 900 series, with an 8.9-inch screen, Linux OS and chicklet keys that make touch typing a fever dream fantasy. And while some of Sylvania’s choices here are merely dreadful (the arrow keys are a mere 12mm wide — thinner than my pinky), it’s actually the OS that royally blows it for the Netbook.

Ubuntu is known for being one of the most stable and simple versions of Linux on the market, but Sylvania somehow turns it into a nightmare on this system. For a computer ostensibly designed for inexperienced users, it’s a disaster. I had trouble with the Ubuntu installation on the Netbook from the start: Blank screens on bootup. MPEGs wouldn’t play and codec installations repeatedly failed (or even crashed the machine). Help files weren’t installed. And most annoying of all, the battery meter couldn’t decide whether the computer was plugged in, and pegged battery life remaining at 0 or 2 percent no matter how long we charged it. The Netbook abruptly shut itself off on at least one occasion, possibly convinced that it was out of juice.

With stability this dismal, the specs are largely irrelevant. But if you’re willing to invest the time to work through the Netbook’s quirks and faults, it could make a great replacement for your desk calculator.

  • RAM Size: 1 GB RAM
  • Clock Rate: 1.6 GHz
  • Hard Drive Size: 80 GB
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