We've looked at tiny low-power nettop computers before, the smallest to date being the Linutop 2. Now we have the CompuLab Fit PC 2; even smaller, and crucially, more powerful.
Where the Linutop 2 used a slow AMD Geode processor and was only available with Linux preinstalled, the Fit PC 2 comes equipped with a faster CPU, a choice of operating systems and the promise of 1080p high-definition video playback capability. This should make the package a more enticing proposition than the Linutop, which proved too sluggish for even everyday light office duties.
In component make-up, the Fit PC 2 is actually surprisingly close to the Dell Mini 10 netbook we reviewed recently. This 1.6GHz mini laptop features the latest Z530 version of the Intel Atom processor, along with a new Intel integrated graphics chipset. And like that laptop, the Fit PC offers an HDMI digital video output, enabling a sharp picture when connected to an external monitor or TV screen.
The Fit PC 2, a product of an Israeli engineering consulting company, is a remarkably small computer at roughly 4.5in square and 1in high. Or put another way, it would take less space in your CD rack than one double album. If it wasn't for the need to plug in a screen, keyboard, mouse and power supply, you could call it a pocket PC.
Like the Linutop, there's no internal fan to keep the Fit PC 2 cool, making it nearly silent in use. Put your ear up close, though, and you might just hear the whirr of an internal hard drive which the Fit PC 2 uses for storage rather than a solid-state disk. This means storage capacity won't be a problem - it usually sells with a 160GB 2.5in notebook drive, although there's an option to buy diskless and fit your own hard disk. There's a screw-down hatch on one side which lets you easily slid in a new hard drive.
You can adjust amount of video RAM in BIOS, to either 128MB or 256MB, although this eats into available system RAM. Less customisable is the total RAM quota, since 1GB is soldered straight to the motherboard with no opportunity for expansion.
Unlike the Linutop, the Fit PC 2 does get noticeable hot. Even with the low thermal design power (TDP) of the Atom, its sole reliance on the lightweight aluminium casing to dissipate heat leaves you with a little box that feels rather like a room radiator.
While the Fit PC 2 never got too hot to touch, you nevertheless wouldn't want to keep your hand on top for long when it's working for a living. We'd have liked to have seen a little added heatsinking to help vent unwanted heat from this laudably fanless design.