TechEye reveals what's under the bonnet of Britain's £98 PCs

The government is launching a scheme to sell sub-£100 PCs to people who are yet without a broadband connection.

It’s the brainchild of Britain’s “digital champion” Martha Lane Fox, who wants to give the 9.2 million Brits who are not online the opportunity to do so. It forms part of the Race Online 2012 campaign, which aims to have every Briton online by the end of 2015. It supports the idea that the internet is a human right.

The £98 deal will include a refurbished PC, which will be supplied by e-cycling company Remploy and will run on open source, currently the Linux Ubuntu OS. The package will also include a flat-screen monitor, telephone support and warranty and will be  available from 60 centres across the country. Remploy is looking at other operating systems too, but it is likely to be open source Linux.

There are five different choices for the processor – all Intel chips. 2Ghz, 2.2Ghz, 2.4Ghz, 2.6 Ghz and 2.8Ghz. The latter will cost £139.

An entry level computer has 256MB of RAM and 20 gigabytes of hard drive, while at the top you’ll be able to buy 512MB of RAM with 40 gigabytes of storage.

Race Online has also done a deal with Three to give users a reduced price on mobile broadband. Three confirmed to us two options are available, £9 a month for 30 days or £18 for three months. That’ll get you 3GB a month of 3g downloads.

It’s certainly a step in the right direction. While some will be hesitant to hop online, as Lane Fox says, the relatively low cost should be encouraging. 

“Motivation and inspiration are still two of the biggest barriers [to using the internet], but clearly perception of price is another big deal for people,” said Lane Fox in an interview with the Financial Times. “A good price point is certainly part of what helps people get online.”

“We have an opportunity here in the UK to make sure we are achieving internet skills and usage as high as TV usage. We should be using our old computers and refurbishing them to close the gap in this country.”

The pilot scheme will be launched this week, with a full nationwide rollout planned for later this year.

If Lane Fox has the good sense to recycle and refurbish older kit for basic technology for the masses – how can councillors justify splashing out on £700 iPads