Via Technologies on Tuesday unveiled its new initiative: a personal computer that costs $49 and runs a special version of Google Android 2.3 operating system. Via claims that since a lot of computing tasks are performance by cloud services, high-performance personal computers are no longer needed and that its system with performance akin to that in the year 2000 should be enough for basic computing.
The Android PC 8750 is powered by Via Technologies WonderMedia ARM11-architecture processor that operates at 800MHz, features 512MB of DDR3 memory, 2GB NAND flash storage as well as integrated graphics adapter that supports up to 720p resolution [limitation of the APC 8750, not the WM8750 system-on-chip, which does support 1080p as it was designed for set-top-boxes] and D-Sub as well as HDMI outputs. The APC 8750 has such connectors as USB 2.0 (x4), audio in/out, and 10/100Mb/s Ethernet; in addition, the neo-ITX mainboard supports micro-SD slot. APC consumes only 4W when operating at idle power and 13.5W at maximum load.
The APC 8750 utilized a new neo-ITX form factor measuring 17cm*8.5cm and can be housed in any standard mini-ITX or microATX chassis, providing both computer makers and enthusiasts flexibility when it comes to choice of PC case.
“APC brings the familiarity and convenience of Android to the PC at a $49 price point that will open up exciting new markets and applications. Like a bicycle for your mind, APC will enable more people than ever before to explore the vast online universe," said Richard Brown, vice president of marketing at Via Technologies.
While the prospects of $49 APC are unclear given the fact that Via Technologies did not show how exactly it works, for now the APC looks like a pet project of the company that needs to find out what the PC users might need from a non-Windows, non-Mac OS personal computer.
At present there are almost no Google Android programs that can use both mice and touch-screens, hence the usage of the APC device will be limited. Moreover, it is hard to expect the APC to become popular among developers and enthusiasts, given the fact that its hardware is outdated even by smartphone grades: three-year-old single-core ARM11 processor at 800MHz and 720p graphics accompanied by 512MB of memory are below any requirements for a proper smartphone of 2012.
Nonetheless, the APC for $49 may become a solution for developing nations thanks to its low cost and simplistic architecture. Nonetheless, Via will have to solve the obvious problem: the lack of appropriate software and/or Internet services. Moreover, with PC case, power supply unit, keyboard, mouse and display added into the APC package, its price will be by far more than $49.