CompuLab’s Trim Slice puts ARM on the desktop

In 2009, I posted a review of the Fit-PC2, the smallest desktop computer available at the time. Since then, CompuLab has released an updated “i” version, and recently the Fit-PC3. That new version is based on a faster AMD chipset, but it’s still an evolutionary update to earlier models. Their latest product however, is something entirely new. An ARM-based desktop computer.
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Fit-PC2 used to power amazing robot spider

Remember my review of the world’s smallest ‘desktop’ PC, the Fit-PC2? I recommended it for use as a lightweight, energy efficient server, but apparently you can do much more exciting things with it. Matt Bunting, a University of Arizona electrical engineering senior, used it to power a very cool, spider-like robot. And it turns out Intel just bought two of them to show off the Atom’s potential. It uses other stock parts too, including a Logitech webcam.
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Updated Fit-PC2i adds second LAN port

fit-pc2i announcementCompuLab just released a new version of their tiny Fit-PC2, called the Fit-PC2i. My guess is the ‘i’ stands for ‘internet’, because the most interesting new feature is a second gigabit ethernet port. This allows the device to be used as a router or firewall, so it’s not a feature that helps desktop users much. In fact, in order to fit (pun intended) the second RJ45 socket they’ve had to eliminate two USB ports from the back of the device, leaving just two full-size USB ports.

But there’s some good news too. According to the press release, the ‘i’ can be ordered with a 2GHz processor (although not currently listed on the website), and a 2GB memory model is also available. This is more important than you might think, because the RAM chips are soldered onto the motherboard and can not be replaced or upgraded. Also new is an RS232 port on the front of the device.

So, if you’re looking for a tiny little computer with an astonishingly low power consumption and two network connectors, look no further. Be advised though that the current state of the GMA500 graphics driver is still ‘a bloody mess‘, and you’ll need a display with a digital (DVI or HDMI) input.

Fit-PC2 review: The world’s smallest desktop PC

fit-pc2As I wrote earlier, CompuLab was kind enough to send me a Fit-PC2, so I could find out if this tiny little PC is as great as it sounds on paper. The first unit I received failed before I could properly test it, but it was quickly replaced and I’ve been putting the replacement one through its paces all day today.

On paper

The Fit-PC2 is the world’s smallest fully functional desktop PC. It’s about 1/4 the volume of a Mac Mini, and it still has all the necessary connections and features to be used as a home or office computer. It’s also the most energy efficient PC I know of, using only six watt when idle and eight when playing full resolution HD video (1080p). Yes, it does that. But more about that later.
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Fit-PC2 first impressions

fit-pc2This blog has been doing quite well lately, and as a result of having visitor numbers I never imagined I would, people have been offering me stuff to review. I’ve declined most of these offers. I feel bad writing about things I wouldn’t normally get excited about. But when I saw this little machine pop up on Engadget, I couldn’t help myself. I just had to see if they’d send me a review unit. So I contacted Compulab, and sure enough they did.
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