Saturday, January 26, 2008

Family Tech: How To Have a New Laptop Shipped from the United States to Japan

Yuko and I spend quite a bit of time in front of our laptops, and this is the result . . . well, one result, anyway. Lately, we've been doing all of our "computing" (if that isn't too lofty a term for what we actually do with our computers) when Grace is asleep, since the alternative is to become embroiled in asymmetrical warfare for control of the keyboard. The degree of digital destruction a toddler can accomplish with just a few keystrokes is truly amazing. Today Grace somehow opened my gmail account and almost sent an email to ". / /" (fortunately she didn't find the @ key . . . this time).

Cellphones. Sure it's cute when she's pretending to talk into an electronic dictionary, but she is all to often successful in gaining access to the real thing.

Today, after managing to "liberate" my cellphone (none other than the world famous Mobileman II) from the middle of the dining room table, she somehow ended up taking her first picture ever--a partial self-portrait. Usually, though, she inadvertently selects random entries in my "phone book," most commonly those of the elementary schools I work at. Once, she actually called my ex-mechanic at seven in the morning, which could have potentially been quite embarrassing if he had answered.

And now, for something completely different. This is the new laptop I have ordered, the ultra portable Everex CloudBook that comes pre-installed with a new Linux operating system called gOS (based on Ubuntu). It was supposed to become available at Walmart yesterday (January 25), but sadly its release has suddenly been delayed by about a month. I do not expect anyone to understand just how sad this makes me feel. I have spent weeks plotting the best way to import one of these things to Japan. At first I was going to purchase one online from because Walmart was the only listed distributor. Walmart doesn't ship outside the United States, so I was going to have them send my CloudBook to FBC (Foreign Buyers' Club) in California, and pay FBC to ship it to my doorstep in Kazamaura. My probable expenses were going to look something like this:

$399---------price of CloudBook
$29~$34----California sales tax (7.25~8.25%)
$24~$28----probable duty to be charged by Japanese customs (based on an informal estimate of 6~7% provided by an FBC employee)
$5------------approximate cost for shipping from Walmart to FBC
$29~$36----approximate cost for shipping from FBC to me, based on an arbitrary estimate that the package containing my 2lb CloudBook will weigh 3~8 pounds
$486~$502--grand total in U.S. currency (unless I got away without paying California's sales tax, in which case the total would be . . . , well . . . , $29~$34 less).

Based on today's exchange rate, that would be about ¥51'832~¥53'538

However, for the past couple of weeks I have been checking the Everex homepage several times per day, and yesterday I noticed that there was a new distributor It turns out that ZaReason's slogan is: "building Linux hardware so you don't have to." Wow, and I thought I was going to have to do business with Walmart (grimace). Anyway, ZaReason was taking pre-orders (unlike Walmart) so I ordered right away:

Subtotal: $399.00
Shipping cost: $63.20
Total: $462.20
including California Sales Tax 0.000%: $0.00

Oh yeah, plus $24~$28----probable duty to be charged by Japanese customs (based on an informal estimate of 6~7% provided by an FBC employee)

$486~$490--probable grand total

So, based on today's exchange rate, that comes out to ¥51'832~¥52'258

Just in case Everex's delay in releasing the CloudBook was causing me to have second thoughts (it was), ZaReason kindly posted this encouraging note in the sidebar of their homepage:

The new anticipated delivery date for the Cloudbooks is mid to late February. Feel free to preorder and you'll be in the first shipment. As always, feel free to ask questions through our Contact form.

Why is the Cloudbook worth waiting for? Reason #1: Because it meets that delightful cross-section of extreme portability (the size of a paperback novel), extreme affordability, and great specs.
---end quote---

And now, for something completely different. Here is the answer to last week's Puzzle of the Day.