A laptop for $500 is a great deal no matter how you slice it. That is, of course, assuming that the things last longer than the warranty before breaking. Throwing pieces like this into the market will most certainly win some converts to the linux cause as well.
"The companies said Balance is the lowest-priced laptop currently available with an operating system and an office suite. It features a VIA C3 1-GHz processor, 128MB RAM, a 30GB hard drive, a CD-ROM drive and a 14.1-inch liquid crystal display. The software includes a built-in firewall to protect users from viruses, spam and pop-ups."