by Anton Shilov
06/13/2012 | 10:59 PM
Via Technologies, a designer of low-power and low-cost computing platforms, started to accept pre-orders onto its Android PC (APC) platform for $49 on Sunday and managed to sell the first batch of mainboards within several hours. Apparently, the demand towards the Google Android 2.3-based APC 8750 was somewhat higher than the company expected and many users complained about that fact.
"We began to accept pre-orders of APC. Those who had registered to be notified were given the first opportunity to place orders, which were limited to a maximum of 2 units. Due to the staggering demand we sold out in just a few hours. [...] We are truly overwhelmed by this response and would like to thank everyone for your support for APC," a statement by Via Technologies reads.
Direct shipments of these pre-ordered units are scheduled to begin in early July. Many of those, who pre-ordered the Via APC 8750 all-in-one mainboard complained about absurdly high shipping cost of $38, which is not significantly below the price of the device itself. Via Technologies said that it is "working hard to make APC available through local distribution partners in all major markets to reduce shipping costs".
The size of the first batch is unknown, but it is very likely that it is no less than a 1000 as this is the minimum quantity in which contract manufacturers typically start production. It is also unlikely that the batch exceeds 10 000 as that is the quantity of a typical lot of standard chips in which contract makers produce them. Since the chips that power Via APC 8750 are also used in other devices, it is unlikely that Via assigned an entire 10K batch to the APC.
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.
Despite of "overwhelming success" of the APC 8750, its prospects are still unclear given the fact that Via Technologies did not show how exactly it works and whether it is suitable even for basic computing.
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.