More Teeny-Tiny Linux PCs are Arriving

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 12, 2012

When it comes to top open source stories of 2012, it's clear that one of the biggest is the proliferation of tiny, inexpensive Linux-based computers at some of the smallest form factors ever seen. The  $25 Linux computer dubbed Raspberry Pi (shown here) has grabbed many headlines on this front, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt recently pledged to give some of the units to U.K. schools along with training for teachers who can pass on Linux knowledge to kids. But the Raspberry Pi is only one of many tiny LInux computers being heralded as part of a new "Linux punk ethic." Now others are showing up? Have you heard of the Oval Elephant?

The Oval Elephant is a $72 system described by its developers as:

"...a fast mini pc similar to the MK802.  It comes with Android [4.0] but can support special versions of Linux as well.  Linaro Linux will be ported to this and one of the first devices this size to support it.  We have plans to run XBMC shortly.  (More information to come regarding Linaro and XBMC).  These can be installed using the microSD card slot that supports up to 64GB.  Also has full HDMI port (not mini) for direct connection to TV or monitor.  It also has built-in MIC and external port for MIC for audio.  Power is by miniUSB port.  No A/C plug required."

Like the Raspberry Pi, The Oval Elephant sounds like it packs a fair amount of power into a tiny form factor.

As TechNewsWorld reports, when it comes to diminutive "post PC era" devices:

"...We've got the Raspberry Pi, we've got the Cotton Candy. Add to those the Mele A1000, the VIA APC, the MK802 and more, and it's becoming increasingly difficult not to compute like a Lilliputian."

And then there are the various pocket-size Android devices selling for under $100. These thumbdrive-style mini PCs are available on AliExpress for $74, which includes shipping. The devices have ARM processors and run the Android 4.0 operating system. They also have onboard GPUs that enable 1080p video through HDMI. And, you apparently get 512MB of RAM complemented by 4GB of storage available through a microSD slot. The mini PCs are also WiFi-ready, and have a standard USB slot.

These Android devices are already being compared to the Cotton Candy mini computers that run either Android or Ubuntu, but the Cotton Candy systems run for $199. If nothing else, all of these devices are illustrating that the price points for very powerful miniature computers can be driven very low--well under the $100 price point that the OLPC project originally targeted.

The Raspberry Pi, available in $25 and $35 versions, has really driven this point home, and the educational market and the opportunity to put computers in the hands of children who couldn't previously afford them is a point of focus at the Raspberry Pi project. Would you go for one of these pocketable under-$100 devices?