APC Plays Rock, Paper, Firefox OS. Fix Bug? Free Device!

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 26, 2013 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: Rock, Paper, Firefox OS, APC

Update: (9/28/2013) APC responded to my email and confirmed all models support up to 32GB microSD cards (so, microSD or microSDHC).

Firefox OS is an operating system which boots into a web standards rendering engine. All applications and user interface elements are essentially web sites, often hosted by the device but could obviously have online components as the creator desires, web standards making it easier to port and manage code.

Hardware designers are continuing to adopt the platform.

apc-paper-angle.jpg

APC Paper

APC, an initiative of VIA Technologies, got our attention over a year ago when they launched their smaller-than-a-banana Android desktop. It was an interesting design which came out at roughly the same time as the Raspberry Pi. I cannot tell whether that boost or harmed consumer interest.

apc-paper-io.jpg

From behind

Either way, the APC has announced two successors: The APC Paper and the APC Rock. Both devices dropped Android (side note: the $50 APC 8750 based on Android 2.3 is apparently still available) replacing it, instead, with Firefox OS. Both devices are in the Neo-ITX form factor although that should not matter too much, for Paper, as it includes a case.

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APC Rock

Paper covers Rock, get it?

The raw specifications are as follows:

  • SoC: VIA ARM Cortex-A9 @ 800 MHz
  • GPU: Built in 2D/3D up to 720p
  • Memory: 512MB DDR3
  • Storage: 4GB NAND Flash
  • Expandable Storage: microSD (maximum 32GB)
    • Update: APC confirmed all models support up to 32GB, which is microSDHC
  • I/O: HDMI, VGA (Rock-only), 2x USB 2.0, MicroUSB, 3.5mm Headphone/Mic

This build of Firefox OS contains mouse and keyboard support. If you wish to install your own operating system, while you are on your own, the kernel and bootloader are available on the APC website and the hardware is unlocked. They also provide access to the ARM debug headers for the real developer types.

If you are one of these developer types, would you consider fixing a known issue? APC will donate free devices to users who submit fixes for specially tagged bugs on their Github repo. Think of it like investing time fixing a product which, if you would have bought it, probably would have crushed the bug anyway.

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It would have been nice to see a bump in processor performance and graphics functionality, and perhaps more than 512 MB of RAM, although it should be sufficient for light web browsing. As a developer of GPU-intensive web applications, which I expect to have an article on soon, I am not sure how much that colors my view of these devices. Then again, we are also talking about devices in the Roku price-point, so (apart from sticking with 720p... come on now) I may not have a valid complaint.

Both devices are available now, in limited quantities, through the manufacturer website. The Paper carries a price tag of $99 USD while the Rock is slightly cheaper at $79 USD.

Source: APC

Skip the Pi and go straight to cardboard computing

Subject: General Tech | January 17, 2013 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: cardboard, APC, ice cream sandwich, arm, Cortex A9, VIA

APC has released a version of their Rock PC called the Paper which comes in a recycled cardboard case which resembles a hard cover book.  Powered by a Cortex A9 based Via Wondermedia chip running at 800MHz, 512GB of RAM and 4GB of NAND storage and sporting a pair of USB ports, ethernet and HDMI this Ice Cream Sandwich system is great for browsing the web.  At an MSRP of $100 it is an interesting device, almost as expensive as a tablet but in a very different form factor, if it could be convinced to act as an HTPC you could hide it in your bookshelf and only the wiring would give it away as anything but another book.  Check out more at The Inquirer.

apc-paper-angle.jpg

"TAIWANESE TECHNOLOGY FIRM APC has shown off a PC that comes in a book-like cardboard case.

The firm calls its under $100 PC Paper, because it comes with a cardboard case that looks like a book. Inside Paper is the firm's redesigned Rock board. Both run Android and both are designed for mouse and keyboard inputs."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

VIA unveils the APC $49 Android PC

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | May 22, 2012 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: VIA, htpc, APC

VIA tops Gingerbread with a banana for some reason. They also unveil a $49 system powered by Android 2.3 which has been customized for mouse and keyboard support. The system draws between 4 and 13.5 watts (idle and load respectively) and can be mounted into any standard Mini-ITX or microATX chassis as well as chassis for the new Neo-ITX standard.

I guess VIA wants to be more than just Android-in-law to HTC.

It seems as though the low powered computing market is continuing to be eaten by ARM with devices such as VIA’s just announced APC Android PC. The APC seems to be aimed at the home theatre and enthusiast markets. VIA also hopes that the low price point will introduce more people to computing.

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Apparently VIA prefers bananas to Apples.

The APC is powered by an 800MHz VIA ARM11 system-on-a-chip with 512 MB of DDR3 RAM. 2GB of flash memory is embedded on the device which can be expanded by a microSD card slot. It may also be possible to install extra memory through one of the four USB2.0 ports on the device although that is not explicitly stated in the press release. Display output will be limited to 720p. Power usage will vary between 4 and 13.5 watts depending on load.

VIA is also promoting the device for its Neo-ITX form factor. The APC is 17cm x 8.5cm in dimensions -- which is just under 6 3/4” by 3 3/8” for you non-Metrics -- and can mount in Mini-ITX or microATX cases. It apparently is also smaller than a banana.

The APC is expected to ship this July for $49.

Source: VIA