Amplicity is a new type of computer from startup The Hive which aims to capitalize on a few of the hottest trends on the PC space: tiny computers, modular devices, and software-as-a-service.

Here’s the idea: Amplicity is a pocket-sized PC module. Insert it into a dock and it becomes a full-fledged desktop. You can use the system by paying $99 for every 6 months… and you can upgrade too a newer model, return the system and cancel your subscription, or make other changes when your time is up.

Aside from an opportunity to always have the latest hardware, why would you rent a PC instead of buying one outright? Because it also comes loaded with software.

amplicity

The company plans to ship devices with Windows, Office, and Adobe content creation software pre-loaded. Customers also get 1TB of cloud storage.

There will be at least two versions of the hardware at launch: Amplicity Anywhere features an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and a small solid state drive. This is the version that’ll cost $99 for every half year.

A more powerful version with an Intel Core M processor that’s simply called Amplicity will sell for somewhere around $300 to $400. You’ll be able to buy that model… no subscription fee required.

The little computer modules also have batteries so that your system won’t immediately shut down if you remove it from the dock.

On the one hand, it might be cheaper to just build your own computer, install your desired software on it, and hang onto the system for a few years. On the other hand, The Hive’s Amplicity could be attractive if you want to make sure you always have up-to-date hardware and software.

It’s sort of like Microsoft’s Office 365 for hardware… and software.

The Hive, by the way, was co-founded by John Hui, who is also behind Fuhu (maker of the Nabi line of tablets for kids) and eMachines.

Amplicity Anywhere should launch this Spring, with the more powerful Amplicity launching later in 2015.

via PC World, CNET, and Gizmodo



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8 replies on “Amplicity is a modular, rentable PC loaded with software”

  1. Is the 2GB of ram limit in all these little computers because of the Atom processor being intentionally nerfed? I mean its ok for a tablet but kinda hopeless for a desktop, a couple tabs open in chrome will lag the whole system.

    1. Microsoft basically hands out Windows 8.1 with Bing licenses for free for Atom devices (most of which has 2GB RAM).

      As you can buy such a device for a bit less than a 100$ retail, and some more expansive models comes with a office 365 subscription for a year (say the mini HP computers, which are sub-200$), I’m guessing this so-called start-up just brokers some Adobe licenses (which should be clarified if included in the 99$ deal) and some cloud storage, and just loans the computers to the consumers, and in the worst case scenario, after 6-12 months, they get the computers back, retro-fit them or just sell them 2nd hand at AliExpress for 20-30$.

      Probably won’t worth the dollars.

    2. Some of the cheaper ATOMs are limited to 1-2GB of RAM, but they’re specifically intended for the $99-$149 tablet range, or less… The rest can support up to 4GB for Bay Trail T, and since Bay Trail M/D/I can support DDR3L RAM they can support up to 8GB but are sold under the Celeron/Pentium branding and usually for low cost laptops like Chromebooks instead of tablets…

      However, there are industry/market factors that make offering more than 2GB very rare… Namely, the mobile Bay Trail SoCs are using the same LP-DDR3 RAM as seen in other mobile phones and tablets and the market for them is presently still limited to around 2GB…

      Companies like Samsung have only recently started to mass produce 4GB LP-DDR3 RAM… and until they are widely available then offering them comes at a premium…

      The other factor is LP-DDR3 RAM isn’t power efficient enough to not cause a significant hit on battery life at the higher capacities… Some next gen hardware should offset this, like the move to 14nm for the next ATOM updates and the demand for higher performance should at least start making 4GB being more common, even though the platform will officially support up to 8GB…

      But many will likely wait for the more power efficient LP-DDR4 to start replacing LP-DDR3 towards the end of this year on through next year… LP-DDR4 also can offer nearly double the capacity in the same size space as LP-DDR3… So addresses the other concern of device makers as space on mobile devices comes at a premium and they usually prefer as much space as possible for things like the battery or to make the device thinner and lighter…

  2. Computers are almost throwaway devices…in fact perfectly usable ones are dumped almost daily!
    Why would someone ever need to rent something like this?

  3. This doesn’t sound sustainable at all considering it’s 99$ per 6 months for low end hardware when there’s something like the HP Stream 7 which is 99$ for comparable specs (both of which aren’t great experiences.)

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