SolidRun, an Israeli computer company, has developed the smallest self-contained, most affordable, and most versatile CPU available to consumers. Starting at $45, its motherboard is about the size of a book of matches, and the entire unit measures 2 cubic inches. While you may have already seen some microcomputers in the past–such as the industry-famous Raspberry Pi, or the Android MK802 Mini PC, SolidRun’s CuBox-i has pretty much anything the average person would need, and has a much less hideous to look at.
The Raspberry Pi–being essentially a bare motherboard–requires the user to connect to an external power source, as well as build a custom casing. This can lead to some clunky, ridiculous arrangements.
The MK802 is a bit more streamlined, but has its connections placed sloppily around its perimeter, operates only with Android software and doesn’t have an ethernet port (it relies on WiFi).
The CuBox-i not only has everything these products lack, but it is also Open Source. Consumers can use it with anything from Linux to Android, which automatically makes for some fierce competition. The connections (HDMI, 2 USB 2.0s, microSD, ethernet, and S/PDIF) are all located on the back of the cube, allowing for easy cable management, and the simple design is pleasing to the eye. An eSata port is included on other CuBox models.
On the more technical side of things, the device only uses less than 3 watts of power and plugs in with a 5V adapter. The front of the box has an infrared receiver (and transmitter, on higher-end models), allowing for the use of an IR remote control. The company recently had to clarify the product’s performance numbers, since comparisons with other microcomputers have overlooked the way these devices are used. The AMD A10-5800K processor’s speed, for example, is better than that of the CuBox-i. However, this is comparing apples and oranges, since the bare bones component, like the Raspberry Pi, would obviously require other parts in order to work, increasing its energy usage in the end. The same argument could be made for the CuBox’s performance per ₤50, which ran into the same issue.
The bottom line is that the CuBox comes ready-to-use out of the box, at a lower price and higher efficiency than any other complete computer setup.
Among SolidRun’s main selling points are the CuBox-i’s ability to stream and decode 1080p video with minimal power supply, as well as the capacity for up to 64GB of storage. The company’s founder, Kossay Omary, doesn’t recommend his product for demanding applications, such as Photoshop, but says it’s a perfect fit for developers, or anyone who may need a simple computer for tasks like playing media or home automation.
The CuBox-i1 has tons of appealing features, while other models (i2, i2Ultra, and i4Pro) will offer more capabilities and larger memory. The i4Pro sells at around $120 which is about 2.5 times more than the cheapest machine everyone is talking about. But hey, that’s still a heck of a lot less than your Mac Mini!
The post is written by Jeremy Rappaport on behalf of Fueled – one of the world’s premier development and strategy firms which specializes in creating Android and iPhone apps.