World's Cheapest Netbook: $169

A Chinese company named Carapelli Computers is selling its new Impulse netbooks for prices starting at $169. Of course, there is a big catch.
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I'm not kidding. A Chinese company named

Carapelli Computers Ltd.

has been sending me e-mails about its new Impulse netbooks, which sell for prices starting at $169. Of course, there is a big catch.

The computers look very nice in the pictures and on a YouTube video. Impulses come with a 7-in (diagonal) screen, an unbranded 1GHz SOC (system-on-a-chip) processor, 512MB of memory, 4GB of flash storage, 10/100 Mpbs Ethernet, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, 80-key keyboard, a touch pad controller and a 2100 mAH lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. The netbook measures 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches and weighs 1.6 pounds.

Impulse TNX-9500

Photo Gallery: 10 Best Cheap Netbooks

They come loaded with some form of Linux (the NPX-9000 sells at the lowest price) or

Microsoft's

(MSFT) - Get Report

Windows XP (the NPX-9500 sells for $189). Carapelli's Web site also lists a number of upcoming Windows Vista (NPX-9800) configurations, although prices aren't mentioned.

The manufacturer says it has FCC, CE and RoHS approval, and it's willing to supply Windows XP and matching keyboards in "any language required."

Sounds almost too good to be true. That's because these prices are free on board China, in thousand lot quantities.

Once you add shipping costs and any tariffs governments might add, these mini-notebook computers will be priced similarly to the

Asus Eee

and many other offerings. And despite the small overall dimensions of the Impulse, you also have to consider the fact that it has a very small 7-inch screen.

But, if you're interested, you can get more details at http://www.impulseglobal.com/product_tnx_9500.php. The manufacturer expects the Impulse to "be in mass production in just a matter of weeks."

Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.