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Another Raspberry Pi? $49 ARM Single-Board Computer With Android

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the not-bigger-than-a-breadbox dept.

Android 206

n7ytd writes "Announced today and running on an 800 MHz VIA core, the 170 x 85mm 'APC' is expected to ship this July. It has 2GB of flash storage and 512MB of DDR3 memory. 'A modified version of Google Android 2.3 uses up most of that 2GB of flash storage, but there are external storage options. On the back I/O is a microSD slot, and of course you could hook in an external USB 2.0 drive. VIA spent a lot of time customizing Android to enable keyboard and mouse support which natively it does not support. ... On the I/O panel you get VGA output, HDMI output (up to 720p playback with hardware acceleration), four USB 2.0 ports, gigabit LAN and audio out and microphone in.' With a 'Neo ITX' form factor, VIA touts the single-board computer as a 'bicycle for your mind.'"

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206 comments

No Windows? (-1, Troll)

Big Sausage Festival (2645385) | about 2 years ago | (#40079695)

How do I install Steam and play Crysis with this?

Re:No Windows? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40079767)

Step one: Locate a version of Windows that runs on ARM processors.

Step two: Locate a version of Crysis that runs on an ARM processor.

No need for a step three until you finish the first two steps.

Re:No Windows? (0)

Big Sausage Festival (2645385) | about 2 years ago | (#40079823)

Re:No Windows? (-1, Troll)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40079959)

Yes, a Windows OS that will most likely never be released and that this product does not meet the minimum requirements of.

Re:No Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079883)

Yeah, hope they a standard Linux build to it as well.

Re:No Windows? (1)

RoboRay (735839) | about 2 years ago | (#40080031)

Step four: Profit?

Re:No Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079821)

Install Google Play and play NOVA or Shadowgun?

Android != Pi (4, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#40079719)

Can't run Qt? Can't be a Pi.

Re:Android != Pi (2, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40079873)

yeah so instead of obscure sw with more obscure installation you can just hook it up and start playing angry birds or viewing netflix or using your market released android app.

or just hack it to run qt if you want, it's not like there's not ports.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtA_7kaB-0g [youtube.com] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU_zPnQrM6E [youtube.com] etc.

it's a much much more practical than pi tbh. but via didn't really need to do that much hard work (there's shitloads of 2.2-2.3 android boxes on dx for sale for 70-100 bucks which work with usb keyboards and mouses).

pi is a toy like altair, with a real os a device like this is more of a normal home computer.

Re:Android != Pi (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | about 2 years ago | (#40080513)

wait, it doesnt have built-in wireless? what's the point of a wearable computer if it cant connect wirelessly with blutoot and wifii?

Toy (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079733)

Without the GNU userland it's a consumer toy.

Re:Toy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079851)

Whatever. I can see myself replacing $300 wyse terminals with these.

Re:Toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079941)

You mean useful?

Re:Toy (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40080385)

Without the GNU userland it's a consumer toy.

Even if one accepts it purely as an android box, what would possess them to use 2.3, rather than ICS which isn't a total mess on larger screens?

Keyboard and mouse... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079737)

VIA spent a lot of time customizing Android to enable keyboard and mouse support which natively it does not support.

Uhm, I'm no expert, but I've plugged a USB keyboard and mouse into my Android 2.3 phone and both were recognized and usable instantly.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (0)

bmxeroh (1694004) | about 2 years ago | (#40079923)

Interesting, I was reasonably sure that Android 2.3 doesn't support USB host mode. In fact a quick glance in googles direction indicates that that wasn't introduced until 3.1. I would love to know what phone your using, unless of course your talking out of your ass.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079995)

A Motorola Atrix II. I suppose it's likely Motorola added it when they added Webtop.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (2)

dreemernj (859414) | about 2 years ago | (#40080683)

Atrix 4G and Atrix II can do it but I believe, as you say, they were added by Motorola. You could get a dock to make hooking USB devices up easily or just spend a little time getting them hooked up directly to the phone and then you had keyboard and mouse via USB and video via HDMI for a nice little setup.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40080063)

My wife had one of these for her Android 2.3 tablet: http://www.amazon.com/Leather-Case-Keyboard-Acer-Iconia/dp/B0058RWJMW/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717250&sr=8-8

Acer Iconica, I believe.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40080115)

http://s.dx.com/search/android+tv+box [dx.com]

don't believe the release notes, believe the released machines. many 2.3 flavors support usb host just nicely.

or install android-x86 on your pc. android has pretty much always had mouse and keyboard support.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40079999)

Maybe "spent a lot of time" meant they copied the work of the "android x86" guys. That's what I used to put android on my EEE netbook. Works great.

Reinventing the wheel?

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#40080099)

Maybe "spent a lot of time" meant they copied the work of the "android x86" guys... Reinventing the wheel?

Ah, ahem, that's what you are supposed to do in open source, that's how it works. It's massively parallel, effort is supposed to be duplicated. Good things happen that way.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40080553)

Maybe "spent a lot of time" meant they copied the work of the "android x86" guys... Reinventing the wheel?

Ah, ahem, that's what you are supposed to do in open source, that's how it works. It's massively parallel, effort is supposed to be duplicated. Good things happen that way.

I must have completely missed the point of OSS; I thought the idea was to share code so that people didn't have to continually reinvent the wheel.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 2 years ago | (#40080003)

That puzzled me too - I thought Android supported USB keyboards out of the box? I'm sure someone told me they worked fine.

Re:Keyboard and mouse... (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 2 years ago | (#40080117)

Bluetooth keyboards have worked fine on Android since forever, with a few minor oversights like not having an on-screen way (other than settings) to disable the keyboard if it happens to still be in your backpack but associated.

No 1080 support? (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40079753)

Kinda wierd to be releasing a product in 2012 that won't play 1080 video. I certainly wouldn't like a desktop on a 1280x720 display.

Some sites say the chip can do 1080, others only claim 720p. And if they are putting it on a *-ITX form factor would a SATA port have killed em to add? Any existing case will have this little guy rattling around in it, might as well have the option to put a small drive in. Sure Android probably won't use it but how many hours does anyone think it will take to get a more normal Linux distro on it?

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40079837)

They were aiming for in-expensive which means cutting corners.

If you want a mini-computer where they didn't cut some corners for cost you can find tons of them, just not many are under $100

So yea, adding a SATA port would have killed the project most likely.

Re:No 1080 support? (4, Informative)

EdZ (755139) | about 2 years ago | (#40080573)

They were aiming for in-expensive which means cutting corners.

The 'Pi can play 1080p h.264. At High Profile level 4.1 too, which means unfettered BluRay streams, not just main-profile low-bitrate transcoded video (as is usually the case with cheap devices advertising 1080p decode support).

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40079893)

most of the sub 100$ android boxes with hdmi on market do 1920p, probably a bit of a hit and miss which video's they can decode at that though.

Re:No 1080 support? (3, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40080065)

1920p is not an actual resolution. You're thinking of 1080p, which is 1920x1080 in actual pixel dimensions (assuming 16:9 aspect ratio, which is near-universal for the ___p resolutions). While someone could theoretically make a 3412x1920 display, I do not know of any.

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40080523)

"most of the sub 100$ android boxes with hdmi on market do 1920p,"

No they cant, in fact NONE of them can do 1920p. Who would use such a bizzare resolution?

In fact nothing out there short of a Nvidia chipset can do 2K ( 2048 × 1536) video resolutions let alone 4K and then there is that pesky no content problem for both of those....

What I think is funny as hell is everyone jonseing all over the 1080p problem as if it will look like melting turds at 720p. Sorry but 99% of all internet streaming content, including netflix and the likes are 720p and compressed all to hell. Anyone having a problem about it not doing 1080p is just a nutball that thinks bigger numbers are better.

Re:No 1080 support? (3, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40079913)

You are confused. It can probably DISPLAY 1920x1080, but lacks the power to play full video at speed. Like the computer I have at home.

This thing also lacks sufficient memory. A modern-day browser like Chrome with Flash will not run properly on just 512MB of RAM. I know; I've tried. It's like a snail.

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

gQuigs (913879) | about 2 years ago | (#40080265)

On an old dell P4 with 512 MB of ram:
Firefox can play a YouTube video (at 360p) no problem, with multiple tabs open. Now if you were saying it can't play 1080p, I would completely agree (it can't even play 480p).

On a low end machine, I find modern version of Firefox to be much better [faster/uses less memory] than Chrome. (Especially when playing Flash content).

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#40079943)

The manufacturer's site [wondermedia.com.tw] definitely says the chip can do 1080p and H.264. That doesn't mean this particular device can do greater than 720p, but I don't see any reason to hobble it. Anyone?

Re:No 1080 support? (3, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#40079987)

Answering my own question: It's just speculation, but based on the memory problems they cite in TFS, maybe the device manufacturer has opted to starve it for video memory. Thus, no 1080p, even though the chip's capable of it.

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40080211)

1280x720 is pretty standard in call centers these days. These things look like they would make great thin clients.

Re:No 1080 support? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 years ago | (#40080577)

Yep the lack of SATA is a real PITA. I have found only two ARM boards that support SATA but they only have one port.
Give me two SATA ports and you now have a low power NAS or and or VOIP box.

Steeling an old Jobs line. (4, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#40079757)

'A computer is a bicycle for your mind' was his line circa 1981. Don't know who he stole it from, but I'm sure he did.

Re:Steeling an old Jobs line. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40080029)

Perhaps a re-appropriation of Gloria Steinham's 1979 quote: "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle"?

Re:Steeling an old Jobs line. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40080083)

Good thing that claiming that Steve Jobs only ever stole ideas is original commentary.

It doesn't say... (1)

tscheez (71929) | about 2 years ago | (#40079763)

but I assume "PC" and VIA mean x86?

Re:It doesn't say... (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#40079813)

The summary says it's an ARM-based device.

Specifically (judging by the photo) it uses a WonderMedia Prizm WM8750 [wondermedia.com.tw] SoC (system on a chip). That bundles the VIA 800Mhz ARM 11 core with some other stuff (click the link to see).

Re:It doesn't say... (3, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40079857)

I know the other two people did mention that it is in the article and in the summary, but I would also like to point out that it was also in the very title at the top of your screen.

Re:It doesn't say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079993)

I'd also like to point out the GP that his mother dresses him funny and that we saw him wearing white after Labor day.

Typical slashdot B.S. pileon.

Exactly like a Raspberry Pi (4, Informative)

a_nonamiss (743253) | about 2 years ago | (#40079773)

Except twice the size, more expensive, and runs an outdated operating system with no room for internal storage, that doesn't yet support a mouse or keyboard. Also, it requires a proprietary power supply. But otherwise, just like it.

Re:Exactly like a Raspberry Pi (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40080635)

Maybe it won't be just like the pi. Maybe VIA will actually document the entire SoC. Ya, broadcom, I'm lookin' at YOU.

Re:Exactly like a Raspberry Pi (1)

White Flame (1074973) | about 2 years ago | (#40080651)

Not to mention drawing almost 15 watts, and seemingly having lower resolution output. At least it's got more USB ports and VGA, but the latter is pretty minor nowadays.

Obligatory nostalgia (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#40079789)

An 800MHz cpu and 512MB of ram? Why these days, I have more processing power than that in my phone... Oh, wait.

This sounds nice for a subcompact PC but with the advent of apps on Blu Ray players and embedded in TVs and everywhere else (including phones) with the same or better features, what is the real application for this? I doubt many of the existing Android apps will be a whole lot of fun on this thing. Is there a real market to have for $49 what you could build for $149 and have 3-5x the cpu? The only unique thing is the OS, but even that is hard to make a lot out of unless there are desktop Android apps out there. Are you going to sit and code apps for a $49 widget?

Re:Obligatory nostalgia (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40079935)

most (pretty much all that don't need multitouch which is very few) android apps will run fine on this like they do on any similar android hdmi+usb kb/mouse boxes available from china.

I recently(tonight) tried a 80 bucks one.. it even had angry birds on it preinstalled.

Re:Obligatory nostalgia (4, Informative)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 2 years ago | (#40080111)

Actually, if that thing gets traction, the interesting thing would be to replace android with a regular Linux, and use it as a home server, a media station... I've got a couple of PCs that could easily replaced by this.

Re:Obligatory nostalgia (1)

ajlitt (19055) | about 2 years ago | (#40080175)

800MHz single core ARM11. State of the art embedded for 2008. Spend $30 more and get yourself a Beaglebone.

Re:Obligatory nostalgia (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40080255)

I know if I can get it to work as a thin client there will be a market for me. I would even be happier with even less CPU and another $10 off the price.

How about one with a standard memory socket? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079803)

Put a DDR3 memory socket on it, please! Mount it sideways or something. Then we can pop in a $50 memory stick and have 8 GB of memory!

Re:How about one with a standard memory socket? (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40079915)

Do you have any idea how much that would increase the cost of this device?

This device is not getting talked about because it is a great computer substitute, but because it is cheap. Take away cheap and this has no market.

Re:How about one with a standard memory socket? (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | about 2 years ago | (#40080315)

Actually, it isn't all that cheap. It is a motherboard with onboard video. Unlike the multitude of x86 motherboards selling for under $50 every day at a hundred different outlets this one comes with a lowball CPU and half a Gig of RAM soldered down. But on the other hand this product consumes a fraction of the board space, probably only needs at most four layers and skips the expensive ZIF socket and attachment hardware for a processor, the memory sockets, PCI/PCIe sockets, etc.

And Via should be large enough to produce in volume, unlike the charity making the Pi so that excuse vanishes. No, this isn't all that great a bargain. On the other hand if you want an ARM motherboard it isn't like you have many other choices to pick from right now. And if you need low power you can't beat em.

Re:How about one with a standard memory socket? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40080473)

Point me at a X86 Motherboard with processor that runs on 5 watts of power like this does.

Actually sort of cool. (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#40079809)

While not as small as the Rasp Pi, it seems pretty cool. Old School VGA connector.

Of course, you need a real OS on it.

Decently cheap, I like the direction this is going.

Re:Actually sort of cool. (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40079967)

I know we are going to get a bunch of these "not a real OS" comments, but I can come up with a half dozen applications without thinking since this running Android. Not everyone needs a "real" OS, and if your parents/other oldsters in your life can deal with an Android phone and don't need a Jitterbug (because they don't all the "cutsey" pictures) then this might just be for them.

Re:Actually sort of cool. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40080231)

What's not real about android?
You can run busybox and have a debian chroot if you want.

Hardly a Raspberry Pi (5, Interesting)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#40079833)

Raspberry Pi is first and foremost meant for hardware hacking which is quite obvious from the generous amounts of GPIO, I2C et. al. connectors on it. This thing lacks all that and is apparently aimed more at half-assed HTPC-tasks.

Even on the hardware-side this one is quite lacking. Yes, 4 USB2.0 - ports and a Gigabit ethernet are good features to have, but then they're paired with a measly 720p video output? What do you need all that bandwidth for if you can't even do full 1080p? In theory it could be used for data-processing or such, but then again, the thing would need more RAM and faster CPU for that. Well, it will make for a quite useable small box for running emulators and watching low-quality media, like e.g. YouTube videos.

Re:Hardly a Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079931)

* Put Linux on it
* Sell it with a box as optional as well. Bare boards are a pain if you actually make something cool to run on it.

and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40079951)

The VIA option currently lacks any details on software development as well. All they talk about is that it runs a pre-installed custom version of Android; nothing about SDK's for the platform, etc.

Re:Hardly a Raspberry Pi (1)

grumpyman (849537) | about 2 years ago | (#40080081)

"a quite useable small box for running emulators and watching low-quality media (720p), like e.g. YouTube videos."

I'd want one of those. It seems the 'full' system will be around $150. Wait a minute, isn't that the cost of some cheap version of Android tablet [androidinabox.com] directly from China?

Re:Hardly a Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40080201)

Maybe it has something to do with compatibility of programs. After all, 2.3.3 is the most widely used version of the OS.

What's needed is not this (1)

drwho (4190) | about 2 years ago | (#40079975)

I don't care about video output, a serial port would be just fine. What I DO care about is D/A-A/D I/O - even a sound subsystem would be fine. The PI is missing this. The VIA board seems to have it, if the color of the ports are any indication of it. More USB is good too. I want a decent SBC for various apps, that has good I/O. A bonus would be lower power consumption, which I imagine this has, but what I probably won't get is extended temperature ranges.

Re:What's needed is not this (1)

rthille (8526) | about 2 years ago | (#40080077)

Why not a "shield" for the Pi, with USB 2.0 and lots of D/A-A/D? Sorry, but as my friend used to tell me, "you are not a market", so adding that stuff to the base Raspberry Pi doesn't make sense.

yes it does support keyboard and mouse (3, Insightful)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#40080043)

VIA spent a lot of time customizing Android to enable keyboard and mouse support which natively it does not support.

yes, it does.

Re:yes it does support keyboard and mouse (1)

a_nonamiss (743253) | about 2 years ago | (#40080109)

...starting in 3.1. Not 2.3.

Re:yes it does support keyboard and mouse (4, Interesting)

farble1670 (803356) | about 2 years ago | (#40080133)

well you'd have to wonder why they "spent a lot of time" adding keyboard support to an outdated version of android when they could have used a slightly less old version of android that had it natively.

probably has to do with the memory constraints, but lame nonetheless.

Re:yes it does support keyboard and mouse (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40080453)

You can get 1.X version with keyboard and mouse support, you have been able to for years.

The androidX86 people have had it for a very long time.

Re:yes it does support keyboard and mouse (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40080339)

...starting in 3.1. Not 2.3.

the 2.2 box(with rca-audio, optical audio, hdmi, component and composite outs) I have in my backpack disagrees. so does android-x86, so does cyanogen. with 3.1 they just put it in the release notes.

Re:yes it does support keyboard and mouse (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40080445)

Yeah, it supported keyboards and mice from day one. Where the hell did they get that bizzare piece of FUD from?

Seriously, please give these sane names (-1, Troll)

vuo (156163) | about 2 years ago | (#40080101)

I would like to buy a computer that is much like Raspberry Pi, but I just can't buy a "Raspberry Pi". Too cringe-inducing. Would a car manufacturer name their vehicle "Toot-Toot Peanut Butter"? Sorry but I'll pass.

And APC is a TLA, which, as TLAs often have, has an established use, in this case Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Re:Seriously, please give these sane names (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40080277)

So as long as it has a cool name you'll use it, even if it just plain sucks ass?

Re:Seriously, please give these sane names (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40080397)

Chevy sold a car named "doesnt go" car in mexico.

Their fault for calling it a No va!

just comment (-1, Troll)

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YOU FAIL iT. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40080215)

paper 7owels, Have somebody just ofone single puny the point more

Now that's how the pros do it. (1)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#40080239)

Now this is how a real board looks. All the outward facing connectors are on one edge. The connectors are of types suitable for external connections, properly mounted hard to the board. The board has mounting holes.

There will probably be additional models. Note that the silk screen shows spaces for two more ICs that aren't populated here.

It's even assembled in Great Britain.

I hope it's easy to blowout the OS (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40080379)

and install BSD+IpCop on it. That would make a killer cheap firewall device.

A bicycle for your mind (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#40080441)

FTFA: "a bicycle for your mind". The tires are huge to support the weight. Overall too heavy to pedal. I need to trailer it everywhere. Due to copyright restrictions, I can only ride^H^H trailer it around Oracle's campus unless I agree to a 5 year license based on the number spokes on the wheels and size of the tires. I can pull off one wheel to save money, but then I need to purchase the 10-year license instead of the 5.

Another Raspberry Pi? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 years ago | (#40080639)

Does that mean 'something I won't be able to buy anytime soon' as well? Lets face it, the Raspberry Pi will be cool when I can actually buy one without waiting 3 to 6 months without any indication of when I'm going to get it. I've lost interest in these ultracheap ARM systems that never seem to actually exist. Just keep putzing along with ATmega's, they're wimpy but at least I can buy them.

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