VIA Technologies is entering Raspberry Pi territory with its latest product — the APC. It’s a $49 barebones computer designed to run Google Android. The system includes a processor, memory, storage, and a range of ports for connectivity — but no case.
You can slip the Neo-ITX system board into a computer case designed for a Mini-ITX or MicroATX motherboard, but that’ll probably drive up the price considerably. I suspect we may also start to see some homemade solutions soon.
The APC is meant for use as a desktop PC, but it’s awfully tiny, measuring just 6.7″ x 3.3″.
Under the hood the APC is powered by a VIA WonderMedia 8750 800 MHz ARM11 processor, 512MB of DDR3 memory, and 2GB of flash storage. The chip supports 1080p HD video playback, H.264 video encoding, and OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics.
The chipset is comparable to what you get with a Raspberry Pi. It’s not exactly a state of the art processor and won’t be able to compete with the fastest chips available today from NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Samsung, or Texas Instruments. It’s not even the fastest mobile chip from VIA. But it should be enough to provide a decent Android 2.3 experience.
I also doubt it will take long for people to find ways to install various Linux distributions on the $49 computer.
But what really sets the APC apart from the Raspberry Pi is the wide range of ports included in VIA’s little PC. It has VGA and HDMI ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100 Ethernet jack, headphone and mic jacks, and a microSD card slot.
The only thing really missing is WiFi, but you should be able to add a WiFi dongle using one of the available USB ports.
VIA says the APC uses 4W of power when idle and 13.5W at full load.
The APC will be available for purchase starting in July. You can register for information about pre-orders at the APC website.
The folks at Netbook News got a chance to check out a pre-release version.