There was a recent thread on one of the Yahoo groups about the availability of English language operating system laptops in Panama. I have seen them in the past in some shops in Panama City and occasionally PriceSmart has had some.
Saturday, I was at PriceSmart and looked at what was currently on the shelves. They had two laptops and both has the Spanish Keyboard and Spanish OS.
The also have started carrying netbooks. Today’s netbooks are more capable than laptops were a few years back plus have the added benefit of being lighter. They had four models on display. If I remember right, they had three ACER models and one HP.
I asked a sales attendant if they were running the English version of XP and he said the one in the photo above was. All had the same basic configuration and as seen in the photo above , the keyboard is the US English version. It would be very unusual to install a Spanish OS on a PC with this keyboard.
As with all technology related items, you will pay more in Panama than you normally would in the US. I usually assume it will be about 30%.
All of these netbooks, including the HP were $399.99. Here is a link to an ACER model in the US. It is currently running $319,99. That is 25% more. The HP is running $329.99 in the US. That is about 21% more.
I bought a netbook when they first came out and they new ones are much more powerful than the one I got. Mine satisfies my needs. It is small and light and if it walks off on a trip, I haven’t lost a fortune as I would had I bought a macbook. The bigger complaint most people have about netbooks is that the keyboard is smaller. Since it is a PC for trips, it doesn’t bother me.
If I bought one of these, I would probably remove the current Microsoft XP OS and install a version of Linux. I am running Linux on my netbook and it worked like a charm on my last trip.
If you are wondering if it is better to buy here in Panama or in the US, the question is an individual one and depends on the purchaser to some extent.
Prices as seen above, will probably be cheaper in the US than in Panama. The latest technology will be late in coming to Panama. If you buy in the US, read your warranty and see if the company will provide service in the even it need to be repaired in Panama. There is a fair possibility that it will need to be returned to the US for repair.
On the other hand, buying in Panama doesn’t necessarily mean that a failing product will be easily repaired in Panama either. My experience with my dead LG monitor was not fun. I also have tried to have a US purchased Toshiba laptop repaired in Panama City, with marginal luck. I had one good experience with repair to a Canon camera in PC and one bad experience. If you are lucky, failure will occur when the product is old enough you can just pitch it and buy a new one.
A side note on using US keyboards. If you never want to write a Spanish word then a US keyboard is fine. If you want to write some things in Spanish, it will take a little more work than if you are using a Spanish keyboard. What’s the difference?
Well let’s assume you want to write “I am really enjoying this year” in Spanish. The correct spelling would be. “Estoy disfrutando mucho este año”. If you are using a US keyboard, then you would type, “Estoy disfrutando mucho este ano”.
You say, so? Looks good enough to me. However, if you translate the later back into English, it means, “ I am really enjoying this anus”. That little squiggly thing (~) above the n appears to have altered the meaning a bit.
At times I want to write something in Spanish and during those times I often wish I was using a Spanish keyboard. This is also the reason that I think the salesman was right about an English version of XP was installed on the netbooks above. If Panamanians are buying them, I am wondering what kind of hoops they are having to jump through.