Truly affordable and compact computing devices aimed at education and do-it-yourself markets have taken off in recent months. Although Raspberry Pi is certainly the most popular example, similar initiatives include devices such as the ODroid-X, FXI Cotton Candy, BeagleBone Black and Via’s APC lineup. Now, Compulab is throwing yet another option into the ring, an ARM-based PC running Ubuntu called Utilite.

Measuring just 5.3 x 3.9 x 0.8 inches, the Utilite packs a single-, dual- or quad-core Freescale i.MX6 Cortex-A9 MPCore processor clocked at up to 1.2 GHz, a maximum 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and an mSATA SSD with up to 512GB of storage capacity. Connectivity and expansion options include Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, HDMI and DVI-D outputs, two Gigabit Ethernet sockets, four USB 2.0 ports, one micro-USB OTG connector, audio jacks (analog and S/PDIF), a micro-SD XD slot and two ultra-mini RS232 interfaces.

Compulab doesn’t specify how much of that will go into the base $99 model beyond saying the Utilite is capable of delivering rich multimedia and PC-like user experience, unlike a range of underpowered Android TV dongles on the market. The company also touts support for OpenGL ES, OpenVG and OpenCL EP plus multi-stream 1080p H.264 on-chip decoding -- all while consuming just 3-8W using a 10-16V supply.

On the software front, Utilite is capable of running either Ubuntu or Android. Liliputing's Brad Linder also notes Freescale offers far more documentation about its processors than most companies making ARM-based chips, which makes it much easier to run other GNU/Linux operating systems on the device.

The Utilite will be available this August and joins other tiny desktop computer offerings from Compulab, including the Fit PC, Trim Slice and the Linux Mint powered MintBox.