Real figures (laptops in DepEd Cam Sur)
THIS MORNING, Mother showed me a piece of paper the procurement office of DepEd Camarines Sur issued her earlier this week. Encoded on the paper were the specifications of an Acer TravelMate 4320-10050(8)Mi. Mother was actually happy because it would mean she will soon have her own service laptop—something which a headmaster of a public high school must have because of voluminous paper works. I think I actually spoiled her excitement when I discovered the price of the item at the bottom of the page. The December 2007-release Acer notebook costs Php 49,980! Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the notebook will be delivered with a free Acer Targus bag, and Linux—which is open source—for OS. My daily companion MacBook still costs around Php56K, and even lesser on promo days. But what’s the 6K difference when with the package you won’t have to worry about OS, drivers, warranty coverage, after-sales services, and computer viruses.
Fool me about Pythagorean Theorem, standard deviation, analysis of variance, and Euclidian Mathematics, I won’t even budge; but you can’t mess with me about computers.
The thing is, there’s corruption somewhere in this matter. And if this is happening in the division level, how much more in the regional or even national? What’s worse is how these procurement officers capitalize on the poor teachers’ innocence over matters of technology. The bastards knew—and so did their cohorts of agents and suppliers—even the 286 IBM computers could be worshipped in the barrios without letting them know it had already long been shelved.
To make things clear, here are the exact specs of laptop DepEd Cam Sur provides for requesting schools and school heads:
Acer TravelMate 4320-10050MiSee, it’s not even using Intel Dual Core! Its RAM isn’t even figured in GB! Why would I spend Php50K for a 2007-release Acer TravelMate 4320-10050Mi when I can be better off with an Acer Aspire 4710-3A1G08Mi, using Intel Centrino Duo and with a 1GB RAM for around Php40,000—add Php5K for a licensed Windows XP.
Intel Celeron® Processor
Celeron® M Processor 540SR (1.86Ghz, 1MB Cache, 533Mhz FSB)
Mobile Intel® GL960 Express chipset with integrated 3D graphics
512MB DDR2 RAM (Upgradable to 2GB)
14.1” WXGA TFT color LCD, supporting 1280 x 800 pixel resolution
Intel® Graphic Media Accelerator (GMA) X3100 with up to 358/3845MB of Intel® DVMT
8MB of dedicated up to 350MB of shared system memory
80GB SATA HDD
Integrated 8X DVD-Super Multi double-layer drive
2.4kg, 331(W) x 248 (D) x 29.7/41.08 (H) mm
Integrated 56Kbps modem & 10/100/1000Mbps LAN
Two built-in Acer 3DSonic stereo speakers
Integrated Acer Crystal Eye webcam, supporting enhanced
Acer PrimeLite Technology
Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Wireless Connection
Built-in Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR Technology
Built-in New Acer Crystal Eye Webcam supporting
6-cell Li-ion Battery Pack
3.0 hour battery life
Card slot (Type III)
5-in-1 card reader (SD™, MMC, MS, MS PRO, xD)
Four USB 2.0 ports
IEEE 1394 port
1 Local Limited Warranty & 1-year International Traveller Warranty
FREE ACER TARGUS BAG (in upper caps)
The truth is, no non-Dual Core laptop today costs higher than Php40K or to some extent even 30K. The Php49,980 price of this TravelMate is too much, already one-year old, and must have already been lowered, considering the thousands of newer models that came between the date of its release (December 2007) and now. I doubt if these procurement officers knew that market prices of certain products lower after some time, except for land, gold, and few essential constants.
At eBay Philippines, a brand new Acer TravelMate 4320-1000508Mi can be bought at Php27,900.
At notebookreview.com, Acer TravelMate 4320 costs $889, which is around Php43K. This was the 2007 release price.
At filgifts.com, this model costs $711.62 (Philippine price), which is around Php34.5K.
Why would I opt for a 2007 Acer at Php40K when I can actually have a better laptop in a Lenovo Y410 at the same price? Lenovo has a sturdier name being associated with IBM. Y410 has Intel Dual Core processor, 2GB RAM, 160GB Hard Drive, and has a face recognition capability—which sounds fantastic—for access security.
Or why would I rest for these brands when I can have the sleek MacBook with Intel 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo, 1GB RAM, 13.3-inch glossy widescreen display, nearly 1-inch thickness at Php56K. It has already its built-in Leopard OS X. Mine came with a free Klipsch Pro Media Ultra 2.0 speakers worth Php6K. You'll get the speakers if you bought your Mac from Ynzal. You'll get a free iPod if you bought it from PowerMac Center.
Now, enough of the technical terminologies and acronyms, which could have been the reason why teachers requesting for mobile computers didn’t complain. Nobody recognized the overpricing. Probably many did not understand much in the specs. Who would? It’s all jargons and abbreviations that sum up one six-letter name: laptop. Computer technicians and sales persons could have been there to explain things to us children of the lesser gods of the modern world. But of course, biddings had already been closed—or worse, prearranged—and contract signings done, and grinning suppliers are just waiting for job orders to come. Where are the procurement officers? I really don’t know. But wherever they maybe, the poor teachers from the barrios can and must always question them on matters like the one we’re singling out right now. In the end, as radicals, activists, democratic thinkers, honest leaders—not to exclude chronic complainers, explicators-on-podiums legislators, and, of course, El Presidente—say, “it’s taxpayers’ money, it’s public money.”
As for Mother, I really don’t want to frustrate her. She’s having my old laptop refurbished. I, on the other hand, am thinking of saving more to buy Mother the fashionable yet inexpensive ASUS Eee PC 4G, which very much befits her work.