Asus isn’t the only company working on a device that packs a whole computer into a slightly chunky keyboard. NorhTec, makers of the low cost, low-power Gecko EduBook netbook plan to bring a new device called the Gecko Surfboard to market.
The Surfboard uses a low power x86-compatible system-on-a-chip that combines processor, graphics and memory functions. All told, the computer uses just 5 watts of power and runs cool enough to operate without a fan. NohrTec says the computer is about the size of a typical computer keyboard, although it looks a little thick to me.
The computer will be able to run Windows XP, Linux, or Windows CE.
Unlike the Eee Keyboard, the Gecko Surfboard is not meant for use as a multimedia device. It doesn’t have an HDMI output and probably can’t handle HD video playback very well. Instead, it’s designed as a low power, low cost primary computer. It has a VGA output for a monitor and composite jacks for plugging in a TV if a monitor isn’t available. It also has Ethernet, headphone, mic, and USB ports for plugging in a mouse and other peripherals, as well as a good old fashioned serial port.
You also get 512MB of RAM and two SDHC slots for removable and/or semi-permanent storage. There’s also room for a 2.5 inch HDD inside the keyboard if you want to go that route.
The $99 model won’t include WiFi, but you can add 802.11b/g and/or 3G WiFi for a fee.