Tiny, cute, expensive paperweight?

September 15, 2009 by Dave Haynes

I saw the PR come out yesterday about a little Linux-based teeny PC aimed at, among other things, digital signage. It has been a busy coupla days, so I finally just had a look at the thing now.

The Linutop 3 looks cute, and at first pass the gadget appears to have a lot of promise. It is small enough to slap on the back of a flat screen. It’s a solid state fanless design, so there is little that can crater on the thing. Great.

But it’s also $500 US, and it will ship from France. It has its own custom Linux OS, so have fun with that unless you have a propeller-head on standby. And the CPU is the Via C7, which is an old slug of a thing in relative terms and is Via. I am no propeller-head but the ones I know don’t seem to say nice things about what is a consumer-grade product.

The specs suggest it can plug into HD monitors but anyone thinking this will drive video and Flash in a nice, smooth way will want to test, test and test some more before making a real investment. It doesn’t matter if it is small and fanless if the playback looks like crap.

There is newer technology on the market, like the Intel Atom and the Nvidia Ion graphics processor, that is likely offering a lot more capability, and maybe at less cost.    




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