But this isn't meant to be a full-function desktop PC, not with a 500MHz processor. It's so tiny and cool-running enough that one suggested installation option is to screw it onto the back of a flatscreen. So what use is a silent, miniature PC so small that it makes a Mac mini look bloated?
Easy mounting for kiosks, but too slow for Internet café users
Linutop offers a number of suggestions, including a public-facing Internet terminal or for office use. This strikes us as rather optimistic. The other ideas are more realistic; generating digital signage, point-of-sale terminals, interactive guides and so on. The company even offers advice on integrating alternative input devices such as touchscreens. Here, a couple of the Linutop 2’s virtues outshine the meagre performance: the very low power draw – it only takes about 8W – and low heat-dissipation.
After hours of operation, the fanless metal case is barely warm to the touch, and it operates in such utter silence that it's just as well it has power and disk activity LEDs. Nevertheless, the Linutop isn't really a PC. It's a thin client, cleverly adapted into a standalone machine with a super-skinny OS. Indeed, it will net-boot using PXE, so you could use it as a true thin client, if preferred.
Locked down by default: Synaptic manager locates updates
Linutop OS 2 is pretty good and very easy to either lock down tight or open up for customisation. Xubuntu isn't really a substitute for the full Ubuntu unless you have a fair bit of Linux knowledge, though – there's no built-in facility for mounting network shares, for example.
Good luck to them
I can see a few uses for these, shame its a bit lacking in ports though. I work with control systems and something like this with parallel and serial ports would be ideal for either new systems or retrofitting older setups, great for prototyping too.
If they could offer options on port configs, like the second network for a firewall mentioned above or a couple of serial ports for some point of sale kit then this could well be a winner.
As to the price, yes it is a bit steep but they are not a high volume manufacturer so they aren't getting hardware at anything like asus or dell's discounts. Considering what I've seen companies pay for similar kit, 250 euro is very reasonable.
Useless? Methinks not...
On the contrary, this is an excellent piece of kit that has a definite market. Take for instance Point Of Sale terminals... screw one of these on the back of an LCD monitor and you have a nice low cost small footprint retail sales machine. I have already done this with a Eee PC, it' s nice to see more coming on the market.
There are loads of uses, from in-vehicle computing to thin-client terminals. Office PCs could be replaced with this as well, what, you need more than 500MHz for your word-processor? It certainly would reduce the amount of support to the desktops that are deployed in most offices.
1. Home automation PC including pulling files off a server for playback on a TV or audio system. Give it a bit of web presence and the right interfaces and it can set the mood and temperature for you getting home.
2. In-car non-essential systems controller. With the right software this little thing could handle satnav, entertainment, phonecalls etc. A GPS could be a lot more if it was broken out of the little grey plastic box with the stern sounding lady inside.
3. Vulnerable people. Again with the right software this thing could act as the inexpensive hub for things like sheltered accommodation to monitor alarms and sensors detecting people moving around.
4. Animal husbandry. Say you have a hatchery or a breeding project. I'm sure this could be used to monitor various sensors and regulate various outputs accordingly.
If it were cheaper, hams would snap these up by the bucketfull!
Would make a nifty battery powered box to run digital modes like PK31, RTTY, etc. Just use a low power LCD display that can run off an inverter and you're all set for EMCOMM or Field Day...
As Apple don't seem to want to add HDMI onto their MacMini there has to be a market for machines of this size that can be turned into media hubs.
Shame this isn't one of them.