Subject: Systems | January 9, 2013 - 10:36 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubuntu, solidrun, linux, desktop, cubox pro, cubox, computer
Israeli-startup SolidRun is launching an updated model of its CuBox mini PC called the CuBox Pro. The small desktop computer measures 2 x 2 x 2-inches and weighs a mere 91 grams. The CuBox Pro is not only small in size, it also sips a mere 3 watts at full load. It comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu Linux, but the CuBox Pro can be loaded with alternative operating systems by way of a microSD card. The hardware is nothing spectacular on the performance front, but it is capable of 1080p HD video playback. Interestingly, Youtube user rabeeh3000 reported that the CuBox Pro draws less than 2.5 Watts while playing a HD movie in XBMC.
Speaking of hardware, the CuBox Pro is powered by a Marvell ARMADA 510 SoC clocked at 800 MHz. It is supported by 2GB of DDR3 memory, and internal storage is handled by a microSD card slot.
Rear IO on the CuBox Pro includes two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI video output, one eSATA connector, one Gigabit Ethernet port, DC power jack, and a single S/PDIF audio output on the side of the case. Further, the CuBox Pro has an infrared receiver, which will enable remotes to be used with media center software.
The CuBox Pro is slated to be available sometime in January for $159. Alternatively, the original CuBox with 1GB of DDR3 is available for $139. Admittedly, it is a bit pricey considering there are cheaper options like the Raspberry Pi but you are getting a complete OEM system (whereas you would have to add an SD card, USB infrared receiver, and case to the price of the Pi).
You can find more information abou the CuBox computer on the SolidRun website.
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2012 - 08:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Samsung, linux, hardkernel, Exynos 4, computer, arm
If you are an Android developer and have been itching to get your hands on some high end, quad core hardware, than Korean company HardKernel may have just what you’re looking for. The new ODROID-X is an Android developer board (meaning it comes as just a single board computer sans case or accessories. For $129 plus shipping and customs fees, you can have a 90 x 94mm PCB with a Samsung Exynos 4412 ARM Cortex-A9 quad core at 1.4 GHz (1MB cache), Mali 400 GPU, 1GB RAM, and runs on a 5V, 2A power adapter.
IO for the ODROID-X includes headphone and microphone jacks, six USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, SDHC card slot, 50-pin GPIO connector, UART serial connector, MIPI-CAM camera connector, HDMI, and a power jack. In other words, it is extremely expandable. It is capable of outputting 1080p video over HDMI when using the H.264 video codec thanks to dedicated hardware acceleration. Hardkernel will happily sell you accessories but you would likely be better off buying it from a local retailer or online shop that is in-country to avoid the extra shipping and customs fees. The power jack and other ports are standard, so there aren’t any worries there. Android 4.0 ICS is reportedly available for download, though no word yet on when the newly announced Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" OS build will be up on the site.
Thanks to the Samsung Exynos 4, you definitely have more oomph than the 700 MHz ARMv7 in the Raspberry Pi, though this board isn’t nearly as small (and costs about four times as much). If you need the extra horsepower, this may be worth considering at this price but be sure figure out the import taxes and shipping for your location to figure out what it will really cost you to get your hands on. Read more about the ODROID-X's specifications over at the Hardkernel website.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm
The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.
According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.
The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).
Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?
If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!
Subject: General Tech | March 19, 2012 - 01:44 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: finance, computer, apple
Apple inc, the popular consumer electronics and computer company behind such brushed aluminum products as the MacBook and iPad is currently sitting on a huge pile of cash. Specifically, they have $97.6 billion dollars on hand in cash and securities (!). Allegedly, former CEO Steve Jobs maintained these liquid assets in the event that they needed to buy out a company to make any problems go away.
Apparently, current CEO Tim Cook has other ideas about what to do with the company's money, including giving a small portion of it back to shareholders in the form of dividends. In light of this announcement, the company expects their stock price a grow over the long term. After generating $31 billion in cash last year (September to September), and on track to rake in even more profits this year Tim Cook does not foresee a dividend having any negative impact on their liquid assets. The quarterly dividend in question is set to be $2.65 per share stating July 1, 2012.
Apple is further instituting a $10 billion share buyback program that is reportedly being implemented to offset shares issues to employees. The buyback program will last for three years and begins on September 30, 2012.
After the release of the
iPad 3 new iPad (sigh) and positive reaction to dividend announcement, their stock price is rising and they are still sitting on quite the pile of money even with the new dividend!
Subject: Systems, Mobile | February 29, 2012 - 05:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, mobile, linux, hdmi, computer
The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced yesterday that their little Linux computer would be launching in the early hours of the morning today. Instead of the original plan of Raspberry Pi handling the pre-orders and shipping them from the UK, they ended up partnering with RS Components and Premier Farnell to handle all their orders and distribute them to customers. The non profit foundation states that this move will save customers money on shipping as the two companies have distribution centers worldwide and they will be able to get more boards out because they will be able to sell enough boards to meet demand.
Today, RS and Farnell were offering up the Model B Raspberry Pi boards for pre-order, and the first 5,000 orders from each company will receive their Raspberry Pi boards from the initial 10,000 unit batch. Surprisingly, the two companies' servers were getting hit extremely hard earlier today and it was almost impossible to not see at least a couple error pages requiring a painfully long refresh. According to the article, the Raspberry Pi computer sold out "within hours." Even though the initial batch of boards is spoken for, customers can continue to pre-order boards that will be delivered as soon as the next batch has finished production. Those unlucky enough to miss the first 10,000 aren't completely out of luck; however, as it is rumored that production of more boards should be getting underway and have an estimated delivery date a bit more than a month away. How true that is, remains to be seen however.
Personally, I managed to snag one of the first Raspberry Pi boards from Farnell Export, but it was an order fraught with error pages and being uncertain just how many I ordered as the confirm order page kept error-ing out. Luckily, I received an email from them confirming my order of a single Raspberry Pi and am now eagerly waiting for it to arrive. The last estimated delivery figure I received puts it about a month out, however.
In another bit of good news, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is still planning to release the cheaper Model A board later this year, and they managed to up the RAM to a full 256 MB of RAM which is twice the original 128 MB of RAM they planned. This update to the Model A means that the Model B is now only differentiated by the addition of two USB ports and an Ethernet port.
Did you manage to snag a Raspberry Pi this morning? From how hard the servers were getting hit last night, I'm starting to think that the Raspberry Pi Linux computer may be more popular than actual pie! If you are still interested in pre-ordering a Raspberry Pi, RS Components and Premier Farnell have you covered.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 17, 2012 - 04:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nzxt, full tower, computer, chassis, case, atx
NZXT, a computer case manufacturer that has been around since 2004, is today launching a new full tower computer case with the Switch 810 chassis. The new full tower case includes several features aimed at enthusiasts along with a 2 year warranty and choice of two colors (white or black). NZXT founder Johnny Hou seems confident in the case by stating that the new chassis "offers enthusiasts an array of advanced features intuitively implemented into one of the most unique designs we've ever created."
The full tower case supports EATX motherboards with up to nine expansion slots and 375 millimeters of space for large, modern graphics cards when the front fan is removed. The motherboard tray further supports plenty of cable routing holes and a CPU back plate cut out. Further, the interior of the can can hold four 5.25" drives, six 3.5" drives, and up to 10 120mm or 140mm fans. The front, bottom, and drive bay area of the case houses two fans each. Meanwhile, the top of the case houses three cases and the rear holds one fan. Constructed of steel and plastic, the case weighs in at 9.1 Kg or about 20 lbs.
As you can see from the outside of the case, the Switch 810 chassis supports four 5.25" drives, audio and microphone connectors, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, and a card reader. Also, a filter for the bottom intake can be removed from the front of the case. Some of the touted features of the new case include the ability to easily install water cooling and the new "hybrid fins" that allow users to close the fins to reduce dust and quiet the computer or open the fins along the top to maximize airflow. Tool-less drive bays, an acrylic side window, and a white LED that can be switched on or off are also features of the Switch 810 case.
The NZXT switch is available now for $169.99 USD. More information and photos of the case can be found here. What do you think of the new case, are you impressed with the "hybrid design?"
The proposed airflow diagram for the new NZXT case.
Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 08:15 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, linux, computer, arm
The UK based charity behind the Raspberry Pi Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, announced in a blog post that the two ARM 11 powered Linux computers have entered the manufacturing stage and are that much closer to going on sale. The two models, Raspberry Pi A and B, will be $35 and $25 respectively. The difference between the tow models is that the cheaper model A board has half the RAM at 128 MB and lacks an Ethernet port. Both models have an HDMI and analog RCA video output along with a USB port to attach a mouse and keyboard.
The charity elaborated that while they tried to find a manufacturing partner in the UK, they ran into cost and logistical issues. Specifically, tax and import laws in the UK requires any electronic components to be subject to import tax, making importing components into the UK and manufacturing it from within an expensive proposition. The Raspberry Pi Foundation was able to find a manufacturing plant that could produce computers for them at or above break even prices; however, they would not be able to produce enough units to meet demand- only a few hundred instead of the estimated 10,000 units the charity wanted. Further, because the manufacturing plants could only produce a few hundred units a month the release date would be months away instead of the 3 to 4 week turnaround offered by Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturing plants.
In the end, the charity chose to produce the Raspberry Pi computers outside of the UK in order to keep costs down and meet the release and quantity expectations. They will then use the savings to invest in further research and development and expanding the organization.
Are you guys going to purchase the Raspberry Pi computer when it comes out?
Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2011 - 10:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, Comcast, computer
This week saw the national launch of Comcast’s internet connectivity program for low income families. As a result of the Comcast-NBC merger, the company was required to create a low cost option for families in the US to connect to the internet. Dubbed the Internet Essentials program, it is undoubtedly a good thing to come out of the deal despite the more nebulous aspects.
The Internet Essentials program entails a $9.95 plus tax per month cable connection with 1.5 Mbps download speeds and 384 Kbps upload speeds, which is a good value compared to more expensive DSL or slower dial up connections. In addition to the Internet connection, families who sign up will receive a voucher through Acer or Dell for a computer in the amount of 149.99 plus tax. While specific specifications of the computer have not been given, Comcast describes it as a netbook computer with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and the Windows 7 Starter operating system. It may also be bundled with productivity software when available. Families will also have access to free training materials in print, online, or in person. The service will be available throughout the Comcast service area for eligible families. In order to qualify for the service, families must have at least one student eligible for free lunches through the National School Lunch Program, must not have any overdue Comcast bills or unreturned equipment, and the household must not have had Comcast service for the past 90 days. Unfortunately, those families with students who only qualify for reduced price (but not free) lunches will not qualify for the Internet Essentials program.
The ISP will begin taking customers starting in the 2011 to 2012 school year, and will continue taking on new customers for three years following the initial roll out. Customers who are already using the Internet Essentials service will continue to be eligible for it so long as at least one child is eligible for free lunches, they do not close their Comcast account, and they do not violate the company’s residential ISP service agreement.
I for one am glad to see Comcast offering this service as the Internet is becoming increasingly important for students as a learning, collaboration, and productivity tool. Students can now be on a more level playing field in their school work, and this is great news, even if Comcast was forced to offer it as a condition of their merger approval. If you are interested in or know a family that might benefit from the Internet Essentials service, please head over to the company’s website or call 1-855-8-INTERNET (1-855-846-8376) for an application.