Via Technologies has announced the APC Paper, a super-cheap but very basic $99 (£62) ARM-based mini-computer built into a recycled cardboard case that deliberately resembles a hardback book.
The Rock runs a custom Android 4.0 (i.e. for keyboard and mouse) on top of Via’s own WonderMedia Cortex-A9 processor, which runs at 800Mhz. Main memory is 512MB RAM backed up by 4GB of flash for storage.
This can be supplemented using the microSD card slot or via the two USB2.0 ports and single micro USB. The Paper also comes with a 10/100 Ethernet port (no WiFi), HDMI and audio in/out.
Alternatively, for $79, computer users can buy the board on its own as a no-frills APC Rock model for $79 and gain a VGA port in the process.
Look beyond the book cardboard case gimmick, the Paper and Rock are really part of the movement started by the RaspBerry Pi, that of incredibly simple ARM-based computers that can run open source operating and Linux-derived (in the case of Android) operating systems.
“Expensive, overpowered CPUs and bloated software are no longer relevant. With this awareness, we were able to drop power consumption to the point of making an energy-saving light-bulb jealous,” said APC company of its philosophy.
“Documents or books can be piled up on top of the computer, or it can be placed on a bookshelf. It’s a computer that you could sandwich between a variety of objects.”
It is a bit more expensive than the RaspBerry Pi without being much more powerful, which some will see as a small drawback. The British computer was also designed as a platform to play with run multiple distributions although no doubt developers will eventuallly boot the Paper using different images.
APC launched the idea last May as a $49 mini-computer. The Paper and Rock will be available from March, the company said.