Solu Machines is running a Kickstarter campaign for an unusual type of computer. The Solu is a mini PC that measures about 4.5 inches square and has a touchscreen display, so you can use it sort of like a mobile phone or tablet. But connect it to a monitor and keyboard and the Solu becomes a touchpad that you can use to interact with desktop on a bigger screen.

The little computer runs a Linux-based operating system called SoluOS that’s tightly integrated with a cloud storage service called SoluCloud.

You can reserve a Solu device for a pledge of 349 Euros, which is about $385. But Solu is also hoping to get you to sign up for SoluCloud subscription: plans range from $1 per year for a very basic plan to $49 per month for 5 terabytes of storage.

solu_01

To be honest, I’m not entirely sold on the subscription service: the $1 plan only buys you access to online collaboration services and you have to pay $19 per month or more for cloud storage.

But I think the hardware is kind of interesting. At a time when Microsoft and Canonical are developing software that lets you use a smartphone like a desktop by connecting an external display, keyboard, and mouse, Solu Devices is taking a slightly different approach by offering a device that’s not a smartphone at all, but which works as a sort of portable desktop that you can use as a touchscreen device when it’s not docked.

The Solu has a 1440 x 1440 pixel touchscreen display, an NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage (which the developers call “cache capacity,” since the idea is that your files would actually be stored online and synchronized with your local device when you login).

It has dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, a USB Type C port, and a 1,200 mAh battery. Solu Devices says the system can support up to a 4K external display. There’s no HDMI port, so you’ll need a USB Type C adapter for your display.

While SoluOS will have native apps including collaboration tools for co-editing documents with other users, the operating system can also run Android apps.

Solu Devices hopes to ship their odd little PC in May, 2016.

via Linux.com and CNX-Software

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14 replies on “Solu is a touchscreen, cloud-connected mini PC for use at home and on the go (crowdfunding)”

  1. The concept is really cool looking, and would probably be functional as part of the Nordic space program. Too much style over substance to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

  2. I’m thinking their first idea was to figure out a way to sell a subscription service. The device came second.

  3. That is a really neat design. Essentially folding the mouse into the mini PC is really neat, and it looks slick too. Too bad it feels actively designed to make expanding your storage inconvenient as possible so you’ll buy into their service.

    Also not a huge fan of a custom OS. Isn’t Windows 10 free for devices with a screen smaller than 10″? Seems like this would qualify.

    Also, am I the only one who thinks they missed out by not naming it “Sulu”? Just me? Okay then.

  4. Like the idea. Minus the tie to the cloud and subscription. I would prefer my own choice of Linux distro.

  5. A cloud based thin-client. An interresting concept, but too expensive for the experiment. I expect great things from the Remix Mini thou, that little thing can finally put all these ARM sticks to use!

    1. That can be acceptable if you use it docked most of the time. Though it seems obvious to me that the lure of the device is precisely the ability to take it for travel and use it undocked as a tablet, and a small battery kills that.

      Edit: I contacted them and they clarified it’s 32GB not 2GB storage. Considering buying…

      1. Probably a typo. Kickstarter campaign says “Cache capacity – 32 GB”.

    2. Though I’m not an Apple fan, the iPhone 4 didn’t have a big battery either but the battery life was great most of the time, at least that’s what lots of reviewers and consumers said (I’ve never had an iPhone and never will), so I don’t see why it would suck for Solu. Just optimize the OS enough, maybe they’ll even use Assembly since the OS is tied to this device only?

  6. I don’t understand the point of this, tbh. You can buy a mini desktop with more power for less, and put any OS you want on it (and if you really need to control the desktop with a touch screen device you can use an app like Unified Remote on your phone or tablet).

    1. Is that PC also useable on your lap, say, on-board a train? With a 4 inch touchscreen, easily fittable inside your pocket?

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