Okay, folks, the group deal is happening! As promised, not a huge discount but, I think, enough to have been worth a short two-day wait.
First of all, my apologies for breaking the "no-for-sale-ads" rule. I promise it will be my first and last for-sale post. But clearly it is topical, people have been waiting for this news, and I think it's neccessary as a starting off point for making the CF-01 a viable alternative to the ePods. We need to hit a "critical mass" (CF-1's in the hands of a bunch of people) for a real dialog about hacks, mods, etc. to begin. That's what got the ePods forum going. This will, I hope, be the first step toward the same thing happening with the CF-01.
To bring those up to speed who have not been following this thread, the CF-01 is an ePods-like device that runs true Windows and has a real Pentium class processor and a hard drive. More information is here. Panasonic/USA sold them primarily to government/industrial users but discontinued them about two years ago. There apparantly was a deal struck to offload the remaining inventory to Europe at a reduced price (about $500), but the deal fell through at the last minute, leaving the middleman stuck with the remaining units. Those are the units that are now turning up on eBay. They started out at $395, then $399, now $410. Doubtless if everyone here had flocked to eBay last week as started to happen, they'd be up to $450 by now, as clearly the supplier has been gradually raising prices in response to increasing demand. (To his credit, he really hasn't been gouging, though; even his present $410 price is quite reasonable for what it is, I think.)
After using my CF-01, I determined that it would be ideal for use as point-of-sale and inventory terminals for my business, and decided to contact the distributor about a volume purchase. It then occurred to me that if I were to increase the order to include enough units for interested people on the ePods forum, it might be a win/win situation. Not only could folks in this forum benefit from a better deal, but the additional quantity would put me in a better negotiating position, hopefully saving me money on the ones I keep. (I'm a buyer by profession, in the automotive field, so negotiating quantity deals with vendors is something I do all the time.) So I approached the seller with an offer.
He agreed, but with one stipulation. He doesn't want to impede his ability to sell them for $410-plus on eBay. This is perfectly understandable; why should he want someone undercutting him on his own product! So while he knows that some of the ones I am buying will be passed around to other users (I was upfront about that), he wants it done discretely. For example, I'm prohibited from selling them on eBay (which is fine with me; I really don't want to go into the computer resale business anyway). As long as he doesn't feel like our little deal is costing him sales that he could have made at $410, he doesn't care. So don't do anything stupid like rubbing his nose in the fact that you're getting a better deal here, or bugging him for tech support or advice (neither of which he can offer; he has no tech resources or spare parts; I already asked). Otherwise he could decide to see how tightly he can enforce the non-competiton agreement, and try to put a stop to this. That would give him the monopoly again, allowing him to set his own price.
So the price here is $345.00, as opposed to $410 on eBay (or $3000+ originally!). As I said, not a huge savings, but significant. This also happens to be about what you can sell an ePods for on eBay, making an "upgrade" to the Panasonic nearly an even swap if you choose to do so. This price includes both the unit and the optional docking station (which is also a stand and floppy drive), both brand new in factory sealed boxes and apparantly with original Panasonic 3-year warranty. The CF-01 does not normally come with a modem, but I got a bunch of 56k modem cards that I can include for just $10 more (OEM pulls, new but sold as-is). Most of them are the nice "dongle-less" 3com ones where the phone cord just connects right to the card. To simplify shipping, I'm going to make it a straight $15 anywhere in the U.S., $5 for each additional kit. (Each kit is actually in two boxes, one for the unit and one for the docking station.)
HOWEVER, this price will not be ongoing. I had to pay cash up front for these units, and it's tying up a lot of my money. While I'm not selling them at dead cost, I'm not selling them at a huge markup either. Strictly from a business standpoint, doing this was stupid; I took money out of my company's operating funds, where it makes a much better profit, to spend it on a bunch of low-markup 2-year-old computers. My wife thinks I'm nuts, and I have to admit it doesn't make much business sense. But there's no harm done if I turn it back into cash pretty quickly, which is my intention. So those who help me do that get the $345 price. After a week or ten days, I'll probably up it slightly to make you stragglers pay for tying up my money. That is, if there are any left by then; at some point I'll run out and then it'a back to eBay for $410-plus.
The units are now in FedEx's hands now and will reach me in a week. If you email me, I'll reserve a unit (or units) for you, and p-mail you with payment instructions (money order, paypal, or COD with deposit). That can all be kept off of the board since this is really not the right venue for handling such transactions. Please use a subject header of YOURLASTNAME CF-01 so I can keep track of the emails. If they sell out, I'll honor the requests first come first served.
My email address is email@example.com . (Incidentally, that's also my ebay user name, if you want to check my feedback to reassure yourself that I'm not a scam artist. Then again, as many of you know, I've been a contributor on the epods bbs for quite some time.)
By the way, I'm really anxious to see what can be done with these CF-01's! With all this baby can do right out of the box, I can only imagine what some of the sharp minds on this forum might be able to come up with!!