I use the term "rara avis" quite a bit to describe just that, rare birds. It appears as though my Sylvania is something of a rara avis in that it was from the between generation of units that has not suffered a failure. At least, that's the impression that an Internet search will give you.
The dates on many of these posts are telling; mid to late 2010, a few early 2011. Then they taper off. My unit was purchased in November by Jamie, and material in the packaging seems to indicate that it was probably made autumn 2011. If that's the case, it may have just missed the problem batches. Later units seem to work fine (my back-up machine seems to run well enough). The Smartbook I'm on works fine, post upgrade.
It turns out that the netbook's manufacturer actually calls them "Smartbooks". WonderMedia designed these inexpensive computers for the Chinese market. When they were initially sold in China, they were a success. After settling on the design and a choice of operating systems (though the end user has no real say; you get either Windows CE or Android), they were exported to the United States.
A number of importers sell them directly, but Sylvania is the primary source.
I've read time and time again about the problems that people are having with their Smartbooks. What I am unable to find are Chinese sites talking about problems with the Smartbook. I'm sure they exist.
I am beginning to wonder though if many of the problems with the Smartbook are no different than those of other new products, and that eventually they will all leave the assembly lines able to run fine right out of the box. Perhaps that's the case right now.