VIA updates APC mini ARM PC line with $79 Rock, $99 Paper

By on January 17, 2013, 4:30 PM

Following the Raspberry Pi's cult-like reception, many companies scrambled to enter the DIY palm-sized PC market, including VIA, which started shipping its 6.7 x 3.3-inch APC for $49 last summer. That device ran Android 2.3 Gingerbread and offered an 800MHz ARM11 SoC (the WonderMedia WM8750), 512MB of DDR3 RAM, 2GB of onboard flash memory as well as connectivity including display outputs, USB and Ethernet. The company has now expanded its APC line to include two new models: the $79 Rock and the $99 Paper.

Both new additions share most specifications, including an 800MHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor with an integrated graphics engine that can handle up to 1080p resolutions, 512MB of DDR3 RAM, 4GB of flash storage, as well as HDMI, dual USB 2.0, microUSB, audio in/out, microSD, 20-pin ARM-JTAG and 10/100 Ethernet connectivity. The cheaper model ships with the bonus of a VGA port, while the $99 package has a chassis made out of recycled pressed cardboard and aluminum that resembles a book so it's easy to stash away.

Naturally, that enclosure adds to the Paper's overall bulk, though it's still very small. The $79 Rock has the same measurements as last year's original Neo-ITX-based APC (6.7 x 3.3in or 170 x 85mm), while the $99 Paper is 8.0 x 3.8in or 204 x 98mm. Of note, last year's $49 option is still available, which might be an easy way to save $30 or more if you can get by with the weaker SoC, half the built-in storage, no debug/expansion I/O and an older version of Android. As far as we can tell, orders placed today should ship promptly.




User Comments: 5

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ikesmasher said:

You hear about the raspberry pi as opposed to these because the raspberry pi was cheap...dont get me wrong, these have some sort of market, but the appeal of a 35 dollar computer far outdoes that of a 80 dollar computer.

1 person liked this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You hear about the raspberry pi as opposed to these because the raspberry pi was cheap...dont get me wrong, these have some sort of market, but the appeal of a 35 dollar computer far outdoes that of a 80 dollar computer.

I love my Raspberry Pi, but it's got a few limitations... A good solid usable port of Android has yet to be finished - you can do v2.3 now with no hardware accel and dog slow performance, or very buggy unfinished builds of 4.0 that need serious work to be ready for prime time. These VIA products ship with a solid version of Android right out of the box, so you can just plug them in and go. The Pi is more of a base level tinkering device, while these let you hit the ground running.

Chazz said:

You hear about the raspberry pi as opposed to these because the raspberry pi was cheap...dont get me wrong, these have some sort of market, but the appeal of a 35 dollar computer far outdoes that of a 80 dollar computer.

I love my Raspberry Pi, but it's got a few limitations... A good solid usable port of Android has yet to be finished - you can do v2.3 now with no hardware accel and dog slow performance, or very buggy unfinished builds of 4.0 that need serious work to be ready for prime time. These VIA products ship with a solid version of Android right out of the box, so you can just plug them in and go. The Pi is more of a base level tinkering device, while these let you hit the ground running.

Do you have to use Android? I thought there are linux distros that work well with these.

ikesmasher said:

Do you have to use Android? I thought there are linux distros that work well with these.

people primarily are using linux but are working on an android port. And I agree, the pi is more of a tinkering device, but the via ones dont have a whole lot of use going for them in terms of capabilities, which is why the pi is more widely sold and known, because why use a Via for multimedia when you can build a full featured desktop or use a cheap old laptop

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Do you have to use Android? I thought there are linux distros that work well with these.

You don't HAVE to use Android. Yes, there are plenty of Linux distro versions, and some of them work very well. But, having a system with a native OS right out of the box gives the VIA systems an easier point of entry, which could potentially appeal to a wider audience than the more hardcore tinkerers.

Plus, with Android you have access to a big library of apps and programs readily available. Ironically, this is one thing that became important to me: you have Netflix access with Android! My RaspBMC system is nice, but lack of Linux native Netflix is a bit of the kiss of death in my household...

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