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Android Hardware

Remix Mini Review: a $70 Android Desktop PC (liliputing.com) 82

walterbyrd writes: Earlier this year, Jide released a 2-in-1 tablet called the Remix Ultra, which shipped with a custom version of Android called Remix OS. The software features a taskbar, a desktop, support for keyboard shortcuts, and support for running many apps either in full-screen mode or in smaller windows. The Remix Ultra tablet comes with a keyboard cover and touchpad, allowing you to use it like a laptop — and it worked... kind of. But the Remix Ultra is also kind of expensive. Now Jide is offering something much more affordable: the Jide Remix Mini is basically a small, low-power desktop computer that ships with Remix OS. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money (and awareness) this fall, Jide is now shipping the Remix Mini to customers.
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Remix Mini Review: a $70 Android Desktop PC

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  • Jide Remix (Score:5, Informative)

    by mjc_w ( 192427 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @03:20AM (#51071383)

    I got one of these from the Kickstarter campaign. It works reasonably well. I haven't tried to do much with it, but as a tiny desktop computer it's OK.

    I had initial problems getting the display to work, because my monitor (a Benq GW1255) only accepted 1080p on its HDMI interface and the Remix output 720p. I first connected the Remix to a monitor that could handle 720p and changed the Remix's display settings, but I finally ended up getting a HDMI to VGA connector (from Amazon by CableMaster, about $10) and it now works fine.

    I use the Remix just for playing around. It prints fine with a Brother driver over my wifi to a 2360DW.

    I use my Apple keyboard (wired) with its attached trackball via USB, and they both work without any problems.

    So far, I like it.

    (Wow - I sure haven't posted in a loooooong time - look at my sig)

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      To me, it looks like a good candidate for a thin client for VDI work. For example, in finance or a part of a company where data is highly sensitive, using these coupled with RDP, Citrix, or a VNC protocol that had encryption, would make for a relatively inexpensive, but usable machine. Plus, if one got stolen or broken, $70 isn't too bad.

      Of course, this isn't for everyone, as we already went through the pre-cloud Javastation song and dance... but for areas where thin clients and VDI would be useful and ar

    • Re:Jide Remix (Score:4, Insightful)

      by OakDragon ( 885217 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @03:24PM (#51075035) Journal

      (Wow - I sure haven't posted in a loooooong time - look at my sig)

      $sig =~ s/Bush/current/; and you're set for life.

    • by kriston ( 7886 )

      It's limited to 720p? That's so disappointing. Can it be modified to output 1080p or 1080i?

      • by kriston ( 7886 )

        Oh, silly me, I didn't fully understand it was the monitor's problem for not allowing you to use it at 720p long enough to change it to 1080p.

        Sorry about that.

  • Another STB (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This looks a lot like android set-top box. While they can perform some functions of a PC, they are still far. In that regard this modified android is a step in right direction, although it seems there are still things to be desired.

  • cheap fanless server (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I've been looking for a cheap low power fanless server that I could host a web server I could ssh into for my family. Think along the lines of managing chores, etc. Is this something that's fit for that task or are there better options (such as something even cheaper)?

    • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @05:13AM (#51071657)

      Do you get linux drivers for it?, I mean without 3D acceleration (OpenGL) and without wifi but with wired ethernet still it would be fine ; but if you get a blank screen it's not nice and what such a device maybe lacks is a RS232 port that gives a serial console. I may be unfair here : Mali GPU do get some support but what about the specific SoC?

      If you intend to get a GNU userland running under Android thus negating most driver concerns, then why not, but the underlying Android OS will probably not get timely security updates.

      For all the petty dislikes I may have against the Raspberry Pis, they do get huge community support so you can run straight GNU/Linux or even BSD or other.
      ODROID have some favorable reputation. Banana Pi?
      Some PC hardware is not far at all in price (486 + BIOS or Atom + UEFI).
      Some complete 20 euro solution without special tricks would be great if we just want it to respond to pings, ssh and serve static or better html. I guess we'll get there eventually.
      Android computers are a bit like CP/M of old : they run the same software but CP/M machines needed their own custom BIOS (and warts of the time such as a hundred different floppy formats). End result you get a CP/M version tailored to your hardware and floppy. With MS-DOS machines except early ones the BIOS were compatible (and we ended up with 360KB floppy, 1.2MB, 720kB etc.) so you ran unmodified OS on unmodified machines of any vendor. I think we may get there : we'll have ARM + UEFI little boxes like we have x86 + UEFI ones. (and even MIPS + UEFI, etc.)

      We do have it easy even in the current situation because a lot of things are extremely standardized : USB, eMMC, SD, ethernet, Wifi, HDMI, VGA, PCIe. File systems too. It's beautiful that things can be used without special consideration.

      • I was going to say rpi too.

        The petty dislikes (I like you're phrasing) are mostly that there are cheaper, faster and smaller boards available.

        For that kind of task anything would, but the rpi is in absolute terms cheap enough and fast enough. Its well supported, so saving 5 to 10 bucks comes at the cost of increased hassle. The myriads of distributions for the pi make development as fast and easy as a standard desktop or sever. Possibly more so as the disk is in practice easier to swap than most bigger syst

    • How much CPU do you need? You can spend about $16 total on an older PogoPlug and little USB flash drive, put Arch on it, and run a tiny server. Works fine for a DNS backup or low-bandwidth Tor relay and will hardly dent your power bill.

      http://amzn.to/1NdkLhF [amzn.to]

      • I have used most of the Pogoplugs and I would unreservedly suggest a Raspberry Pi over any but the Series 4 Pogoplug, which is $20. It is the only one with SATA and USB3, but also, it is the only one which has been stable for me. Even the other versions of the same hardware were more problematic, which is weird because some of them were virtually identical. Now I regularly have very long uptimes without problems of any sort. It's been 48 days since my last reboot for updates...

        Raspberry Pi has vastly better

    • You likely could use your existing Wi-fi router. Just install OpenWrt on it.

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )

      I used my old eeePC netbook. Works fantastic after putting an SSD in it and hanging a large external drive off it.

      10w all day long after turning off Bluetooth and WiFi.

    • You can snap up an Orange Pi for $15! It's both faster and cheaper than the Raspberry Pi 2. http://www.aliexpress.com/item... [aliexpress.com]
  • Too expensive. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jtownatpunk.net ( 245670 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @04:09AM (#51071497)

    I saw Android 2-in-1s going for 80 last week. And Win10 2-in-1s starting at $100. And those include display/keyboard/trackpad so they're ready to go out of the box. They're not amazingly powerful but neither is this thing. Why would I pay $70 for something in the same class that lacks input devices, a display, and a battery? $25 tops.

    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      I never understood this market. Is it for people who are pretending to have processing power and storage of 10 years ago? In a desktop machine which is less portable than some current laptops?

      "...when I fired up the WordPress app for Android, I realized that its simple editing tools were a little too simple for writing a long article.

      "Firefox.... After rebooting the Remix Mini and trying again, there was less lag, but it was still a little too annoying to spend any serious amount of time writing that w

    • $25 tops? You'd pay more than that for a Raspberry Pi and it doesn't even have a damn enclosure.

  • I get that people that live on their phones may be fond of their apps and the app store(s) and the environment they are used to, but please consider:

    The Raspberry Pi 2 (under $40), running Raspbian, is a very usable Debian Linux based desktop environment, unencumbered by the limitations of Android.

    'sudo apt-cache search ' will yield all sorts of interesting things worth investigating, and maybe even a few worth 'sudo apt-get install '

    Android for anything other than a phone is rather pointless.

    • Re: why not Pi ? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I guess the most obvious answer to this is "familiarity". Most people who chose the remix probably have some kind of experience with Android through their own phones. But not everyone is interested to learn Linux nor to setup the pi (which doesn't even come with a case similar to the remix) just to get a simple computer going. I bought one mainly for my 7 year old son to do basic research on the internet and watch YouTube clips and get his feet wet on basic computer usage. It works great for that purpose.

    • I guess the most obvious answer to this is "familiarity". Most people who chose the remix probably have some kind of experience with Android through their own phones. But not everyone is interested to learn Linux nor to setup the pi (which doesn't even come with a case similar to the remix) just to get a simple computer going. I bought one mainly for my 7 year old son to do basic research on the internet and watch YouTube clips and get his feet wet on basic computer usage. It works great for that purpose.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Raspberry Pi 2 (under $40), running Raspbian, is a very usable Debian Linux based desktop environment, unencumbered by the limitations of Android

      Right, but this $70 thing has more RAM, 16GB storage, a slightly higher spec CPU, an Ethernet port which presumably isn't sharing the USB bus like it does in the Pi, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, and a nice case to keep it all in.

      As much as I love my Pi2, I think it is arguable that it is a "very usable" desktop. Web browsing is a pain in the arse because Epiphany is just so damn slow, and the other browsers I've tried aren't much better. My Pi2 is a great machine for learning Python and building robots, b

    • A set-top box for grandma where she can use the same OS on her TV that she already has on her phone?

      The walled garden of Google Play sounds simpler than explaining the intricacies of dpkg to a non-nerd.

      • by hughbar ( 579555 )
        Yes, that both the blessing and the curse at the same time. I have an Android TV stick that I can SSH into from my phone, but I hate all the 'Androidiness' + unknown bits that 'may' steal date. Currently I have a PI attached to my TV, web server, xrdp available in the house and that's fine. However I would like to see a pre-packaged, easy to use Linux stick or mini-PC.
      • I believe most distributions come with a decent GUI that overlays over APT, I'm not sure the Play Store actually adds that much value in practice.

        (Perhaps it should become standard though that ".deb" files downloaded independently aren't installable unless you check a box in a GUI somewhere, in a similar fashion to Android's treatment of .apks)

      • A set-top box for grandma where she can use the same OS on her TV that she already has on her phone?

        Answer this question from grandma: "Why does the calculator app take up the whole screen? I want to see the figures that I'm adding up." It's different with a phone, where the full-screen window management policy actually works well for what a 5" screen is capable of.

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          Even a cursory glance over the article (I know, I know) would answer your question for you. Hint: you are making a false assumption.

          • From the article:

            One of the most important differences between Remix OS and stock Android is that you don’t need to run all of your apps in full-screen windows. There are Windows-like minimize, resize, and close buttons in the upper right corner of app windows, and if you tap the minimize button in many apps, they’ll automatically shrink to phone-sized windows.

            I also see Gapps in the screenshots, meaning either Google somehow approved this or this product is infringing copyright in the Gapps. I'

  • Android? Forget it! (Score:5, Informative)

    by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @05:35AM (#51071707)

    Sorry, but Android is totally unusable as a desktop operating system. (And I'm not saying that it's particularly usable on phones either.)

    But how about installing some good GNU/Linux on it? Does it run?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Good thing that the Jide isn't running plain Android, but a desktop-oriented fork called Remix OS. The review itself does not find severe issues with using the OS or the apps in desktop mode. Maybe you should, you know, read the review?

      • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @08:05AM (#51072001)

        You're missing the point, which is that an "Android Desktop PC" does not have the kind of applications you'd want to have on a desktop PC. This "Remix OS", a slightly modified version of Android, just runs Android apps developed for phones and tablets. To quote the review: "Remix OS does a pretty good job of making some Android apps feel like they were designed for desktop use, but there’s only so much the OS can do if apps don’t play along."

        • by phorm ( 591458 )

          It may not have the applications that *YOU* would want on a desktop PC. To be fair, it doesn't catch all the ones I'd want either, but for many of my family members it could do all they need, specifically:
          * Email
          * Browser
          * Netflix
          * Skype
          * Media Player(s)

          Personally what I'd like to see is something that works better for non-touch non-keyboard devices. Android TV boxes are awesome, but I've not seen any that do particularly well with the basic remotes (I don't necessarily blame Android for this, a lot of it i

          • by Anonymous Coward

            But don't they put some decent linux on it? I really don't think that Android can outperform a real linux distro, and that would give your family members all of the above and a lot of additional desktop applications. Putting Android clones on a desktop machine makes no sense.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have nothing against Android on a smartphone or even a tablet. But not on a desktop or notebook. I would say even IOS would face similar problems on a desktop. Both OS have mobile roots and are not so inclined to work well with a mouse and keyboard. Nor does Apps work well in a desktop environment. I think they use Android only because its freely available.

    • As a long time owner of an iPad with keyboard case (pre dating the original Surface), I'd say iOS plays quite nicely with a keyboard. You're probably right about a mouse, though, and there are definitely other aspects of the touch UIs that would make them less than ideal.

    • Also, on my desktop I want a real filesystem and multiple windows. IOS has neither, and I don't think regular Android does either.

    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @10:46AM (#51072639) Homepage

      Exactly. Android and iOS are significantly handicapped because they are designed to work on a phone with almost no resources available. iOS bascially tries to not have a file system at all. Android is missing critical things like the ability to mount a network share. Sure you can access them through apps, but I'd rather just have any application be able to read files from the network transparently.

      This is the reason that even for tablets I think that iOS and Android are useless. Sure they may work most of the time, but when I need to do something more advanced, they fall flat. Simple features are missing that would be present in any modern desktop OS.

  • The software features a taskbar, a desktop, support for keyboard shortcuts, and support for running many apps either in full-screen mode or in smaller windows.

    I think many of these features have been pretty common for quite a while now...

  • ...a raspberry pi is half the cost of this,
  • GPL Violation? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @02:55PM (#51074749) Homepage Journal

    Was going to load up RemixOS on a VM to try it out, looked at the website found this:

    Disclaimer: Remix OS is only licensed to authorized business partners and pre-loaded on specific product models of those partners;it's not intended for personal use. [jide.com]

    I know they have their part of the software that doesn't have to be GPL, but the rest has to be released. Scrutinize....

  • I got one from the kickstarter, and I like it alot, it works well, doesnt take up much space and seems stable and fast enough for most light work.

    I just can't seem to find a use for it around my house. It may very well end up in my sister's stocking as a Christmas present.

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