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Android Hardware

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

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  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:41PM (#40079719)

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:42PM (#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.

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      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?

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

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

  • No 1080 support? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@beau . o rg> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:44PM (#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?

    • by Jeng ( 926980 )

      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? (Score:5, Informative)

        by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @05:05PM (#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).

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      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? (Score:4, Informative)

        by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:08PM (#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.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        "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,

    • Re:No 1080 support? (Score:4, Informative)

      by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:55PM (#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.

      • Maybe try Opera then.

      • by gQuigs ( 913879 )

        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).

      • by chrb ( 1083577 )

        A modern-day browser like Chrome with Flash will not run properly on just 512MB of RAM

        Chrome without Flash, on the other hand, will run fine. I used to run Tiny Core Linux [] on a Wyse terminal with 64MB RAM, and it was fine for general web browsing. Opera also ran ok.

    • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

      The manufacturer's site [] 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?

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

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

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      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.

      • If you're not willing to fork out for a proper NAS or a more expensive board with SATA ports, you can always use dual external drives with USB. Sure there's a speed penalty, but it's certainly functional.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:44PM (#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.

    • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:10PM (#40080073) Homepage

      As documented here []...

    • by steveha ( 103154 )

      This ad is reproduced in the book To Catch a Mouse, Make a Noise Like a Cheese by Lewis Kornfeld. In that book, Kornfeld shares his thoughts on marketing, and as part of that, he shows a few ads and then makes comments about them.

      He was impressed (in a negative way) that Steve Jobs had his picture inserted in the ad many times. (This was pre-Mac so Steve Jobs wasn't famous yet; Kornfeld was a pioneer in the field of calling Steve Jobs on his ego.)

      Also, he was displeased by the tagline: "When we invented t

  • by a_nonamiss ( 743253 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:45PM (#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.
  • 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

    • 512MB is enough RAM for anybody...
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      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.

    • by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:16PM (#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.

    • by ajlitt ( 19055 )

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

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

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

    • by hAckz0r ( 989977 )

      Old School VGA connector.

      It has both a VGA and an HDMI connector running 720p. Considering the low horse power of the CPU that resolution is somewhat impressive without a GPU power hog .

      Thats not too bad for $49 if you have a specific need for Android. If the Android toolset was self hosting and the board had some extra digital IO interfaces, like the Ardrino, I would be sold on it already.

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [eilrigyag]> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @03:49PM (#40079833) Homepage

    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.

    • "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 [] directly from China?

    • Nope. The pi is meant for software hacking above all.

  • There's only one who will dare give the raspberry...
  • 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.

    • by rthille ( 8526 )

      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.

    • The gertboard for the RPi will have ADC/DAC capability (2 channels, though apparently only up to 12-bit). Alternately, I see USB audio devices starting at $17 or so.

      • $3.99 [] with free shipping.
        In the UK we can get them for a quid [].

        I don't see this cheaply made devices having a DAC (or ADC) worth spit, but I knew $17 was a little high. Maybe the extra $13.01 buys you something that will last long enough to listen to the whole of the first song you play with it?
  • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:07PM (#40080043)

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

    yes, it does.

    • ...starting in 3.1. Not 2.3.
      • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:18PM (#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.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          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.

      • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

        ...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.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        I was running keyboard and mouse on a MIPS device running 2.1 (IIRC) 18 months ago. I never used it in anger so I don't know if it would have been a tolerable way to control the OS (probably stuff like advanced editing and stuff would have been a complete mess) but you could certainly do it in 2.x.
      • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
        The first Android phone used a hardware keyboard as it's only way to enter text.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

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

    • And they could have just used the work that Asus did for the Transformer. :)

  • 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.

  • No 1080p hardware decode/encode?

    Pi > 'APC'

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

  • 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.

  • ... existing Android apps? That's the only reason I can imagine to put Android on something like this, instead of Minix 3.0, TinyCoreLinux, NanoBSD or something else.
    • by tftp ( 111690 )

      They are trying to leverage not only existing Android apps, but also future ones, and the Android SDK, and all the libraries, and all the skills and the numbers of developers who are familiar with Android.

      If you write a Qt application you write it for a specific device. In fact, it won't work anywhere but on the system that has Qt runtime. If you write an Android application you can run it on more devices than you dare to count.

      I used Qt for at least a decade, and I believe that for one Qt hacker there

  • Anyone knows if this thing will be powerful enough to run MAME? Or at least powerful enough for all the 2D games?

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone