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Low-cost computing appliance reincarnates

Feb 27, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Data Evolution has reintroduced AMD's low-cost “Personal Internet Communicator,” aimed at developing regions of the world. The “decTOP” runs Linux or Windows CE 5.0, has built-in dial-up and broadband networking and a 10GB hard drive, and uses an external keyboard and monitor.

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AMD introduced the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC) in 2004, as an aspect of its 50×15 program, which aims to provide 50 percent of the world's population with Internet access by 2015. However, after failing to generate “material revenue” from the product, the company quietly killed the PIC late last year.

In January, Data Evolution, a specialist in “mobile data capture solutions,” announced that it had acquired the assets associated with the PIC from AMD. The company also produces the Clio NXT and Cathena mobile computers, in connection with its mobile data capture business. The former is claimed to be the world's only full-sized, Windows CE-powered, convertible notebook, while the latter, which also runs Windows CE, is described as an ultralight notebook computer that targets vertical applications in education and government.


As part of its 50×15 initiative, AMD touted the PIC as a compact, low-cost “consumer appliance” for developing regions of the world

Data Evolution says that the decTOP and its embedded software are intended for easy installation and setup, providing “virtually instantaneous access to the power of the global Internet.” It integrates both dial-up and broadband networking capability, and can easily adapt to globally diverse power sources, the company says. In addition to its internal hard drive and software suite, the device also includes thin client functionality, making it useful for both standalone and client/server-networked scenarios.

From a hardware perspective, the decTOP boasts a fanless design and a rugged, two-piece aluminum case. Data Evolution claims the device is “virtually impermeable to dust and rugged enough to be used in environments normally found in developing regions of the world but which would be inhospitable to other computing devices.” Additionally, the two-piece enclosure can be opened and snapped together easily, facilitating assembly, maintenance, and disassembly for recycling, the company says.

Key features and specifications, as listed by the company, include:

  • Processor — AMD Geode GX processor; clock rate unspecified
  • Memory — 128 MB SDRAM; boot flash unspecified
  • Mass storage — internal 10GB 3.5-inch hard drive
  • Networking:
    • 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
    • Internal 56 Kbps ITU v.92 Fax/Modem
  • 4 USB 1.1 ports (2 front, 2 rear)
  • Video — supports resolutions up to 1600×1200 at 85 Hz
  • Sound — AC'97 audio with stereo in/out jacks
  • Dimensions — 8.5 x 5.5 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight — approx. 3 pounds

Data Evolution appears most interested in marketing the device with a Windows CE 5.0-based stack, including Internet Explorer 6.0; Windows Media Player; document viewers for PowerPoint, Excel, Word, PDF files; image viewers for .jpg, .bmp, .png, and .gif files; Windows Messenger; and Windows CE games. However, AMD previously demonstrated Linux on the PIC, and Data Evolution also touts the device's Linux capabilities.

Data Evolution had not responded to inquiries for pricing and availability details by publication time.


 
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