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Portables AMD Hardware

AMD Geode Internet Appliance 186

Justin Davidow writes "For a new twist on internet appliances, AMD is finally attempting to go mainstream with their mobile Geode processor, with the Personal Internet Communicator (PIC), a stand-alone device that allows users a striped down laptop/inflated PDA (without a screen included!) for internet surfing.
Expected retail price: $299USD."
Be cool to play around with - I'd love to test it out.
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AMD Geode Internet Appliance

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  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:03PM (#13704807)
    The PIC is a complete solution, supported through a local service provider

    Look! It's got recurring revenue generation built in! Not only can you pay for it up front, but you can keep paying for it month after month; forever! ALl the while you'll be giving control of it over to your favorite ISP, who can reduce it's functionality at their whim, or upon lawsuit, whichever comes first.

    Where do I sign up?

    (Also: How long until Microchip [microchip.com] slaps them with a trademark suit [microchip.com]?)
    • Don't think "hacker geek" as the market for this product. Think "person with a real life who just wants to USE their computer, not play with it."
      • actually it's quite interesting what is the market of this product ?
        out of the box, it seems like a regular pc that i can get from any local store over here for the same money :D

        yea it's compact and fanless ... but on the other hand, it also isnt really that expandable and probably not upgradeable ... let's see what do we get for the 299$

        Compact, ergonomically designed system
        case with optional accent colors
        Unit dimensions
        - 5.5" wide x 8.5" deep x 2.5" high
        - 3 lbs.
        AMD Geode(TM) GX pro
        • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) * <scott@alfter.us> on Monday October 03, 2005 @01:18PM (#13705573) Homepage Journal
          When a regular joe asks from me, what to buy, i just say that the last item [a white box] is extendeable and upgradeable, the first [the appliance described in the article] is probably not.

          20 years ago, that was how I convinced my parents to buy an Apple IIe instead of a IIc: the IIe's slots made it more likely to be able to adapt to future needs. (Yes, that machine eventually saw all sorts of add-ons. 1 MB RAM, a SCSI card for a hard drive, a mouse, and a 10-MHz accelerator were only some of the goodies I added to it.)

          I think amd should add a windows-less variant of the same box, with a reduced priced ofcourse (if the box would cost 199$ it would be a bit more fair).

          Fry's already has white boxes at $199. They're usually built around VIA processors and typically come with 30-40 GB of disk, 128 MB of RAM, and Lindows/Linspire/Lin-whatever-we're-calling-oursel ves-this-week. They've sold them in the past for as little as $99, usually on holiday weekends.

        • I think amd should add a windows-less variant of the same box, with a reduced priced ofcourse (if the box would cost 199$ it would be a bit more fair).

          It seems as though a Linux variant would not be that far of a stretch. Other than the base operating system and a browser, there appears to only be a couple of value-added office products included. The company (SoftMaker) [softmaker.com] making these products even already has a Linux version of them. My point being that such a setup should be trivial to assemble and would
        • And who in $#%^@#$^@@'s name came up with the name PIC ? PIC is a microcontroller, always has been and in the tech people's mind always will be :D.

          You pointed out that it's not for techs, so what does it matter if the name already used by a technical product?
        • actually it's quite interesting what is the market of this product

          The original market is low income and remote areas. Can you run the Sempron you've quoted as superior off of a small solar panel? That Geode draws a tiny amount of power. AMD planned this thing for second and third world countries that could afford a $200 or $300 PC for the local school. Hook it up to some kind of long range wireless internet and they're all set. If they're offering to sell it more widely at first, it's probably
      • by geeber ( 520231 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:34PM (#13705128)
        Don't think "hacker geek" as the market for this product. Think "person with a real life who just wants to USE their computer, not play with it."

        And why do you consider "hacker geek" and "real life" (whatever that is) mutually exclusive?

      • Why does this require a monthly fee? Once it's "just working" why do you need to pay more to keep it that way?

        Do you pay a monthly fee for you DVD player to just work? Your microwave? Your sofa?
        • Do you pay a monthly fee for your car to keep working? Or do you consider oil changes, brakes, shocks not to be part of the cost of owning a car? Just because you don't spend the money in a "periodic" fashion on your car doesn't make it any less of an ongoing expense. Complex systems, be they automobiles or computers, will require ongoing maintenance costs. (And yes, I pay a monthly fee for my ReplayTV to get data; you may pay a similar fee for your DVR cable box.)

          So now they'll offer these PICs, and

          • Do you pay a monthly fee for your car to keep working?

            Nope. I only do work on it (and pay the associated costs) when it needs it... Not every month for the hell of it, and certainly not without knowing exactly what they're going to do first.

            • But you're still spending money on maintenance on things with a finite lifetime. For example, buying $360 worth of tires once every four years is an ongoing expense. Just because you might make it 5 years due to lower mileage doesn't change the equation, only the numbers.

              You're mistakenly stating that just because you don't put $7.50 a month in the bank to cover future tires means you aren't incurring an expense by driving your vehicle. Using the vehicle incurs SOME expense; you're simply deferring the

        • Of course you pay a monthly fee to keep your DVD player working, it's called "the electric bill." Even people who own their own land and are in the clear still pay taxes.
    • It's a good approach: make a bone simple box that's ISP- (not user-) managed. Want new software? Go to the ISPs web site and request they install version 2.0 (or whatever). At least Joe Sixpack won't be able to install his own trojans. If the ISP is smart, they won't charge for a per-install basis, but include it as a part of the monthly rental cost.

      Anyone else think it's an ugly lump-shape? It's pretty obvious to me that they didn't hire any Apple beauticians to work on this one.

  • Star Trek (Score:3, Funny)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:05PM (#13704829) Homepage Journal
    Given the name of the device, I have a feeling that the "oversized Star Trek Communicator" look is intentional. Now if only it actually flipped open. :-)
    • ...did you notice this part of TFA:

      The PIC device is Microsoft® Windows® Powered and contains pre-installed peripheral driver software. Software upgrades can be performed by the Internet Service Provider.

      I'd say this thing is already "wide open" but not quite the way you meant!

  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:05PM (#13704834) Homepage Journal
    Interesting choice of name. It implies that there might be something interesting on the inside, once you get past the cruft on the outside.

    This web page may be of use: How To Break Open A Geode! [geodegallery.com] Oddly enough, some of the information may apply to this particular type of "Geode":

    "Below I will describe the most popular methods to opening geodes (besides sawing them). There are many different ways to open a geode, but no matter how you do it, the key is PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE! If you want the geode to break into two halves, you absolutely CANNOT just hit it as hard as you want to with a hammer! If it is hollow, you will be left with pieces in most cases, not two halves!"

    The page goes on to detail:
    * Hammer/Chisel Method
    * Sock Method
    * Pipe Cutter Method

    I want one already!
  • no screen? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cascino ( 454769 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:08PM (#13704863) Homepage
    (without a screen included!)

    Did I miss something? Do they expect people to just plug in to someone else's monitor whenever they want to use it?
    • No battery either. It doesn't sound like that 'mobile' of a mobile device.
    • Re:no screen? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ihatewinXP ( 638000 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:13PM (#13704919)
      Actually being that it will be sold by ISP's which are now often cable companies I think it might be supposed to hook to your television before your preexisting monitor (like the Mac Mini).....

      - Dr. O
    • Re:no screen? (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      Did I miss something? Do they expect people to just plug in to someone else's monitor whenever they want to use it?

      Well, without a screen it certainly can't be called a "stripped down laptop/inflated PDA). More like a headless box.
    • Re:no screen? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dereference ( 875531 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:20PM (#13704989)
      Do they expect people to just plug in to someone else's monitor whenever they want to use it?

      Apparently so. They also expect you to pay the same amount as the lowest-end Dell desktop (which, a few months ago, actually shipped with a 15-inch CRT monitor and an inkjet printer).

    • I have a lot of thing I would love to have a very small, low-form-factor machine for. Mainly, if it supported wireless, I could probably hook it into a battery pack and have all sorts of fun. There are plenty of things you can do with HID's that don't require a monitor, as long as you don't intend to use the unit like a standard PC.
  • by rf600r ( 236081 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:09PM (#13704872) Homepage
    I am so pleased that this device is "striped down." Now if we could only get some stripes going across, we'd have a real winner!
  • by ALecs ( 118703 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:10PM (#13704887) Homepage
    Guess they really are targetting the clueless:

    Monthy circular image [shoplocal.com]

    "You've got questions - we've got cellphones" -- and now, not-cheap-enough computers, too.

    • Relatively poor deal (Score:3, Informative)

      by CdBee ( 742846 )
      OK, paying $299 (UK equiv about £180) for a 366mhz x86 PC running a stripped-down PDA operating system.

      Probably good for the granny squad (anyone heard of a WinCE virus?) but not so great for anyone who wants to use consumer applications. At least you can install regular Windows or x86 Linux on it if needs be.

      Compared to the spec of the Mac Mini that costs only $100 more though, this suffers by 30gb less disk space, 884mhz less processor cycles, a quarter the RAM.. and a lot of coolness.
    • maybe it's just me, but who decided to make the thing look bigger than the 15" LCD & keyboard combined??

      I mean the whole reason this thing is cool is cuz it's small & simple, who was the genius who said "Hey, this thing is really small! Let's make it look giant and ugly so people really dont wanna buy it!"

  • Compulsory Windoze (Score:5, Informative)

    by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:12PM (#13704913) Homepage Journal
    Sold with compulsory Windows license.


    When is someone going to start selling some decent Linux portables? (I know, Nokia's 770... some time later this year.)
    • No, compulsory Windows CE.NET license. And our software... [softmaker.com] :-)

      Martin Kotulla
      SoftMaker Software GmbH

      • From TFLinkedPage: "The full device will sell for just US$ 185 (~ EUR 145)..."

        $299 sounds like a bit more than $185. At $185 it would almost be worth looking at.
        • In India and the Carribbean, it sells for US$185. I'm not privy to their pricing decisions in the U.S. 'Nuff said.

          Martin Kotulla
          SoftMaker Software GmbH

          • Fair enough. Also, considering the 50x15 [amd.com] goal of the box (50% of the world connected by 2015), it seems like a fairly reasonable device for that. I mean, the last thing we need in the middle of Africa is needing to call in some guy to deal with Windows viruses.
      • Well that's a shame.
        I would love to see how they could price it minus the hard drive and software.

        It would be great to have it network boot to a Linux Terminal Server [ltsp.org]

        • Don't LTSP clients need at least a minimal local storage medium as well? If you cut out the software (OS plus applications), I don't think you can shave away more than $10 of the cost.

          BTW, if you are interested in putting TextMaker and PlanMaker into your distribution, contact me by e-mail (martin-k at softmaker.de).

          Martin Kotulla
          SoftMaker Software GmbH

          • by LDoggg_ ( 659725 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:13PM (#13706076) Homepage
            Don't LTSP clients need at least a minimal local storage medium as well? If you cut out the software (OS plus applications), I don't think you can shave away more than $10 of the cost.

            No hard drive required.
            The way the system works is by either PXE or etherboot(assuming the BIOS supports it). What happens is that when the machine boots up it makes a dhcp request and is told where to pull down a linux kernel. It does an NFS mount to the server and then starts a remote X session. All applications are run on the LTSP server. Very little CPU and RAM is required by the thin client.

            I currenlty have an install with about 50 thin clients running on a dual 2.8 xeon. Works great.
            Thin clients with no moving parts would last for a long time and have zero maintenance.
    • "When is someone going to start selling some decent Linux portables?"
      It's interesting, really. When you add Linux to anything sub-laptop like a PDA, the price goes up. Zaurus and the plethora of Korean/Japan-sold only PDA's taught us this. When you add it to a laptop or PC, it goes down. Microtel, etc.
  • I'm actually amazed that the Geode is finally selling! Both the device and its CPU have been discussed on Slashdot and other forums since about mid 2004.

    Now if only VIA would finally ship their NanoITX boards!
  • $299? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LTC_Kilgore ( 889217 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:13PM (#13704922)
    I know there will be a flood of comments about how easily someone could build a computer for $3.57 using spare dishwasher parts, but all kidding aside, AMD might have priced this machine a bit too high for the intended market.

    One can build a base model Dell desktop (running XP Home on a 2.4Ghz processor) for around $300 (less with rebates and special offers).

    Considering this is running a neutered version of Windows and is designed to perform only the most basic tasks, I'm surpised it is priced so high.

    • Re:$299? (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree with this point - an equally-priced Dell PC will include a monitor, no less.

      I can see AMD's reasoning though - they have to push this to market and make whatever they can off it as quickly as possible - MIT is fast on the road to their $100 laptops [mit.edu] that include a screen and a hand-crank for cryin' out loud.

      Heck, for an even smaller size, one could spend another $100 or so and get an Apple Mac Mini [apple.com], and a.) have better componants, and b.) not have to suffer the Windows. If you're not going to gam

    • 1) The PIC uses a fraction of the electricity a Dell/Intel PC uses.
      2) The PIC should be much easier to maintain, both from a software and hardware perspective. Granted, you can't do as much with it, but you weren't going to play Doom3 on that Dell box with Intel's Extreme (crap) GPU anyhow.
      3) Ditch the HD and WinCE and these would make great LTSP clients.

      In short, TCO should be a LOT lower.

      That said, I suspect that the pricing is deliberately on the high side to keep from competing with real PCs and to mak
    • But the Dell system requires maintenance, which would be provided with the Geode.

      Maintaining a system is easy enough for the Slashdot crowd. OTOH, I just charged a family $80 to remove spyware and install basic free tools on their system. And they had "technical" friends, none of whom could remove the spyware.

      If this is marketed correctly, and the recurring costs aren't too high, this could be a big win for older and casual users.
    • Considering this is running a neutered version of Windows and is designed to perform only the most basic tasks, I'm surpised it is priced so high.

      Indeed. Consider this, though: If the idea catches on (in precisely the same manner as it has not caught on the last twenty times), then there could be a move to the cell phone/satellite TV model of subsidized pricing. The ISP, much like the cell or satellite network, would "sell" you a unit at a subsidized price that is a minor fraction of cost. That uni

    • I trust my laptop, with its back-up data, far more than I'd trust an Internet-based service.

      Don't underestimate the "mom-can't-fuck-it-up" factor.

      I set my mom up with a Windows PC many years ago, constant grief and support. Then I bought my her a WebTV box; life has been bliss ever since. She's happier, I'm happier.

      There are some people for whom embedded boxes are a better solution. Probably more than you would think.
  • storage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bazorg ( 911295 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:14PM (#13704925) Homepage
    10Gb hard drive doesn't look very impressive. Considering that these days it isnt that common to find HDD that small, wouldn't it be better to have a flash memory storage like a portable media player? Would that be reasonable considering the size, cooling needs, overall price? would it work at all ? :)


    • Yes, only 10GB hard drive is rediculous. Just the windows OS takes up practically all that space these days. And then how are the users supposed to store all their digital photos and MP3s? Even grandma likes to take pictures of her grandkids with her shiney new digital camera she spent her last social security check on and e-mail them to the entire family. And the casual computer user chic HAS to have her massive MP3 collection. Considering that single platters hold over 100GB now I don't see any reaso
    • Actually people have been reporting drive failures when thier PIC falls off a table while running.
      As this guy explains [offshore.ai], the PIC is not very durable, nor is it very hackable.
  • Pass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LoaTao ( 826152 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:14PM (#13704930)
    $300 AND Windows® Powered Operating System? Hmmm. I can get a plain vanilla box for that these days with more power and options. Not as cute maybe, but more useful in the long run.
  • by CMiYC ( 6473 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:15PM (#13704946) Homepage
    Previous stories:
    Introduction [slashdot.org]
    Initial Commentary & Photos [slashdot.org]
    • The real (new) story that the submiter missed is that Radio Shack [yahoo.com] has decided to offer these state side.

      Apparently Radio Shack thinks they can offer it up for lease in the US in a market where a full size PC costs 220 to 340 dollars (linux vs windows at walmart). I would imagine this involves leasing them to a market they hope exists for a robust, if severely limited computing platform.

      They might be right, there is probably some value in a computer that can't be buggered by the user.

      • Yeah it is actually called a library or elementary school (possibly some middle and high schools as well). I have learned that librarians and other miscellaneous library staff are often quite tech-illiterate and wouldn't know what to do other then call an 800 number if the machine went because of some careless user. Also library and school PCs have many users coming in who do not actually care about the machine and how much they may mess it up.

        My high school was so relatively illiterate with technology
  • Mac Mini (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Spend an extra $100 and get a refurbed Mac Mini!

    Full function machine few viruses(CURRENTLY)and a easy to use OS...
  • Why oh why windows? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frinkacheese ( 790787 ) * on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:16PM (#13704960) Journal
    How much does the license add to the price? It does not do anything a Linux box would not do with Firefox, StarOffice and whatever else. Hell, stick Lindows on it and it'll be a much nicer solution.

    But why Windows?
  • by ericdano ( 113424 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:22PM (#13705006) Homepage
    The MacMini's ugly cousin.....

    Yuck, and yuck. I'll stick to my Mac Mini (Mini Mac).

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:24PM (#13705030) Homepage Journal
    Judging by the external design, looks like the electronic engineers was asked to do someone else's job.
  • by JoshDanziger ( 878933 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:26PM (#13705045)

    Ok. Let's look at everything wrong with this product...

    No monitor. How does a product designed for "first-time technology users" not include a monitor? What exactly are they expected to plug it in to? The typical first-time users do not have old CRT monitors sitting around, colecting dust like most /.ers.

    Cheap, cheap disk. 10GB hard drive? TigerDirect.com advertises a 300GB SATA hard drive for $90. 10GB is pathetic.

    Limited software. Ok. I've said this before.. The few reasons that I use windows are MS Office and the wealth of generally available software. This machine doesn't even come with Office and it doesn't even sound like it will let you install it! I bet FireFox is a no-no, too.

    Overpriced. In the past, I've priced out $300-$400 systems with generous RAM & hard disk, a good Athlon XP processor, CD burner, etc with no monitor. Of course, that's sans OS and monitor. I wonder how much of that $300 goes to Microsoft for the Windows Operating System?

    Although I am by no means a supporter of Linux on the desktop, I think that this is certainly a case where Linux and open source should have been used. As long as they aren't shipping with Office, why not use OpenOffice instead of "TextMaker"? What's the point of paying Microsoft for Licensing if you aren't going to give the customers any of the benefits of MS Office? They won't even have to deal with the fact that users are just used to Windows since these are targeted at "first-timers"

    Just my 2 cents...

    • Furrfu, who moderated this one up?

      No monitor: So they'll have a cheap 15" CRT the user can buy for $100 or so. Maybe it can be plugged into a TV as well. It's just not economically feasible to include a monitor at this price point.

      Cheap disk: A hard drive of that size you get from Tiger (of all places) will be cheap, as in junk. This one has to be laptop-sized, which cost more per gig than 3.5" desktop drives, are quieter, and use less energy.

      Limited software: Consider who this thing's aimed at. Firs

    • "This machine doesn't even come with Office and it doesn't even sound like it will let you install it! I bet FireFox is a no-no, too."

      While the product doesn't come with Office, it does include the full-featured PlanMaker and TextMaker spreadsheet & word processing software, which is really quite excellent.
    • No monitor. How does a product designed for "first-time technology users" not include a monitor? What exactly are they expected to plug it in to? The typical first-time users do not have old CRT monitors sitting around, colecting dust like most /.ers.

      Um, it never occurred to you that "not included" is just another name for "sold separately"? If they want a 15" CRT, they can buy a 15" CRT; if they want a 17" LCD, they can buy a 17" LCD.
    • Sure, you can have a desktop for about the same price. But not one you can slip in your pocke. OK, it'd better be cargo pants. It'll have a bigger hard disk, but it'll be crap. And the power supply will suck. And, rather than operating fan-less, it'll sound like walking out on the tarmac at a major airport.

      So, it's not overpriced if you happen to need to be able to carry your PC in the pocket of your cargo pants or in your purse but don't want to go to a laptop.

      Probably a pretty narrow market segment,
  • Where's the "news"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Migraineman ( 632203 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:26PM (#13705051)
    LinuxDevices has an article [linuxdevices.com] about this device shipping in October of 2004 ... that'd be a year ago ...

    The linked article doesn't provide any information about availablility to the public. I recall that AMD originally said it was going to restrict sales to developing nations, and maybe they've removed that restriction. I don't see any evidence of that, though.

    And of course, here's a link to the previous Slashdot discussion [slashdot.org] ...
  • Useful application (Score:3, Interesting)

    by parasonic ( 699907 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:28PM (#13705068)
    I couldn't find it on there whether it takes a DC input, though it says that it has an AC/DC adaptor. This might prove to be a little interesting in what it can be applied to. It looks like a good size to be a car computer, and the casing appears to be rugged enough for that. At work, we have a Geode machine that's about the size of a 5 1/4" drive, and it actually operates off a 5VDC digital camera power supply including the 2.5" HDD. If no inverter to ~18VDC is required and only a voltage regulator is needed, this might just be the carputer enthusiast's dream.
  • by AnswerIs42 ( 622520 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:30PM (#13705094) Homepage
    But I am betting it is probably this one [amd.com] judging by the video resolution it offers.

    I have a Geode 300mhz SBPC myself.. with a 1Gig CF card running DSL Linux on it. But it is in a big, bulky industrial case right now.

    It runs nice, if not a little sluggish with some larger aplications.

    I like the case AMD is showing... I wonder if I can make something similar.

  • by Fearan ( 600696 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:31PM (#13705104)
    If they're trying to get into the Mac Mini market, they should really have put more effort into getting a device that looks better. The device sounds like a good concept, but who wants to put something that doesn't look great in their kitchen? On the other hand, the Mac Mini (although it's more expensive) seems like it received a lot more polishing on the outside. I know... it's an Appple product. But other companies should have caught on that good looking products are important if they want to reach a large market share for an electronic applicance?
    • If they're trying to get into the Mac Mini market, they should really have put more effort into getting a device that looks better. The device sounds like a good concept, but who wants to put something that doesn't look great in their kitchen?

      I disagree. I think it looks fine, better than most PC's anyway, and most importantly, it looks different. People like things that look different from the norm. On the other side of things, I can't see how this is any real competition for the mac mini. It has less

    • It wasn't designed to compete with the Mac Mini...it was designed before the Mac Mini was ever even announced. The device was designed to be used in developing nations that have very limited resources (especially power) and dirty environments. This device will draw a lot less power than a Mac Mini. I can assure you that the equadorians that will use this couldn't give a shit less how pretty your mac mini is. AMD originally never even intended to offer this to consumers in general. I'm not sure why they
  • Target market? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:34PM (#13705138) Journal
    I've come to appreciate low-power-consumption (and the resulting low-heat and low-noise) over the past year.

    The Geode looks absolutely amazing, like taking the Epia line to an extreme, with both lower power than the Nehemiahs and higher performance than the C3s.

    However... At a price of $300, it strikes me as odd that they would market this as a sort of super-PDA rather than as an super-quiet-and-low-power PC. And even then, that seems like a rather high price for such a system... Perhaps half that much would work well, but I can get an actual PC for $300.

    The PDA market has saturated. Everything from "real" PDAs to cell phones to music players to handheld gaming systems now offer a largely overlapping set of features, and which you pick really depends on your primary intended use (calls, music, or games, basically).

    The low-power PC market, however, still only has a single player, the Epia. And not really a "perfect" choice, either, since it performs abysmally (good enough for home servers and internet gateways, but don't expect it to ever double as a light-duty interactive machine for a user to sit at). And even in that role, they still draw a non-trivial amount of power (Mine, with a CF card as the primary IDE device, uses around 20W) - A quarter of what a carefully built PC draws, but 5-10x what a dedicated router draws.

    Since AMD's first mumblings about the Geode line (their own version, the NX - Not the GX line they bought from National), I have seen it as a potential real alternative to Epia boards. Guess this shows that AMD has no intention of approaching that particular market, much to my dissapointment.
    • Re:Target market? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xibby ( 232218 )
      The first use that came to my mind was a telecommuting employee. Send them home with this little device loaded up with the corporate VPN client so the can securely open a terminal services session, and you don't have to drop $1,000-2,500 on a laptop for your employee who is just sitting around the house answering the phone in their underwear anyway. If it breaks, FexEx a new one.
  • Didnt we see this last year?
  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#13705282)
    As I recall, this device was originally hailed as a PC for developing nations, priced at around $100. Looks like they missed their target.

    As an Internet appliance, this doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell: it's too expensive, too big, too ugly, and it runs the wrong kind of software.

    Probably the main reason it missed its target is its operating system--Windows is far too heavyweight. Companies like Linksys have no trouble putting out $50 Linux systems like the WRT 54G; if they replaced the wireless on that box with video out, you'd have the hardware for an Internet appliance.
  • Why, how very novel (Score:3, Informative)

    by David E. Smith ( 4570 ) * on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:55PM (#13705342)
    I mean, nobody [soekris.com] has [routerboard.com] ever [pcengines.ch] built a small low-powered PC based on a Geode chip before...

    The only thing that's really novel about this is the integrated video, and having some (possibly lobotomized version of) Windows pre-installed. Otherwise, this isn't exactly a remarkable technological development.

    Also seconding the "how could they make this and not include a display" question. The boards I cited above are intended for embedded development, and I've never used a monitor on any of them. (I've got probably fifty of them, all running various customized Linux and BSD distributions, scattered over four counties in my network. They're intended to be used that way, which is why they don't even have a VGA port.)

    Seriously, once you add a monitor, you're pretty close to low-end Dell pricing, which gives you a computer with roughly 20 times the raw horsepower, and a lot more versatility, so I suppose they're marketing this to the "omg computers are scary" crowd. Best of luck on that. I'd like to think at this point the American public is smarter than this, but I'm probably setting myself up for another disappointment.
  • by Crazy Man on Fire ( 153457 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @12:55PM (#13705343) Homepage
    So, according to the article:
    With a simple "out of the box" installation and setup, the Personal Internet Communicator is designed to provide virtually instantaneous access to the power of the global Internet.
    However, the hardware specs don't list any network interface:
    • Compact, ergonomically designed system case with optional accent colors
    • Unit dimensions: 5.5" wide x 8.5" deep x 2.5" high 3 lbs.
    • AMD Geode(TM) GX processor
    • 4 USB ports - support printers, Flash memory, disk drives, and network adapters
    • 10GB 3.5" internal hard disk
    • Stereo headphone/microphone jacks
    • VGA port - supports resolutions up to 1600x1200 at 85 Hz
    • Fanless, quiet operation
    Am I missing something? What's going on here?! Are the low income (or whatever) people who are the target customers for this device supposed to already have a monitor and a USB network interface? WTF?!
  • The supplied operating system may be a weird version of Windows, but you can install Linux on it as well. Go to http://www.larwe.com/technical/geode_linux.html [larwe.com] where they have detailed instructions.

    On the other hand, I'm sure a lot of people (myself included) categorically refuse to pay the Windows Tax. AMD ought to be offering a version of this device with no operating system preinstalled.
  • by ilsie ( 227381 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @01:23PM (#13705630)
    These aren't meant to compete with the mac mini or any small form factor systems. They're for underdeveloped nations and the such, and you cant install software on them. It's mainly only for internet connectivity, hence the name, "Personal Internet Communicator." AMD donated 200 of these to Katrina shelters around Texas [amd.com] so that evacuees had a way of accessing the internet to find lost family members and such. You can read more about the Personal Internet Communicator and the AMD 50x15 program here. [amd.com]
  • No wireless? Less space than an iPod? Lame.
  • "...a stand-alone device that allows users a striped down laptop/inflated PDA..."

    OK... I want to know which side this device is striped down on, and what color the stripe is, dang it! If it's not done up in Bell System blue/yellow, I don't want anything to do with it.

    Or maybe it's an appliance of a different stripe?

    Spelling glitches can be such fun...

  • Like someone else said, and I totally agree:

    why 300 dollars? Nokia's Tablet is supposed to debut for about the same price. It has a 10 GB 3.5 inch hard drive? Where do they get that? 2 dollars at a local garage sale? Wtf... for 300 dollars I can set up a blazing file server, internet station, whatever you want, just not an overpriced monitorless "mobile" green thing.
  • I'm was a little bemused to see this article, when less than a week ago MIT were demonstrating a $100 variation, thats portable, and even has its own screen, and is capable of running a full version of Windows!

    http://linux.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/29/ 129235&tid=98&tid=184&tid=106&tid=219&tid=137 [slashdot.org]
  • There was a blurb on engadget.com this morning saying that you could pick one of these up at Radio Shack. No word if those models include the subscription model or not.
    Info is here [engadget.com]
  • No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.
  • by MalusCaelestis ( 172079 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @02:33PM (#13706260) Homepage
    (Disclaimer: I don't work at AMD or sell any of their products. I'm just a fan.)

    Through a local small computer company with ties to AMD, I've been beta testing AMD's GX Thin Client [amd.com] product, which is based on a Geode GX 533 processor (which runs at 400MHz). Granted, this isn't the exact product listed in the story, but it's built on the same platform and only seems to differ, really, in that the Thin Client doesn't include a hard drive.

    The first thing one notices about the Thin Client is its size. It's small. Most hardcover novels are considerably larger than the Thin Client. Most Linksys routers are larger than the Thin Client.

    The Thin Client includes flash memory for storage (128MB, if I recall), which you can take out and replace with a CompactFlash card (using the provided adapter). The Thin Client I received included a version of Windows XP Embedded and Windows CE. The performance under XP Embedded was surprisingly poor. Simply moving a window around the screen rapidly could bring the system to its knees. Windows CE, however, was pretty responsive but ultimately not very useful.

    On the bright side, it runs Linux. Just load up a slim distro (Debian Base, Slackware, Damn Small Linux, etc.) onto a CF card with the appropriate drivers (which AMD doesn't yet publish on their site--I got them from one of the project leaders--but I'm sure they'll be available once the Thin Client hits the market). It works swimmingly.

    Now for a bit of bad news: the Thin Client only has USB 1.1 ports, so you're limited to ~11Mbps transfer speeds over USB. It has built-in 10/100 Ethernet, but you'll never hit anywhere near 100Mbps. The processor becomes your bottleneck when it comes to any kind of network utilization. (I never seem to get above 15Mbps.) File transfers will be limited by the R/W speed of the CF card. I would not expect to use this kind of device for anything multimedia-related, nor anything that requires even moderate processing power.

    But the Geode does shine in one area that's very important to me: power consumption. The processor draws about 6W under an average load. In standby, it draws less than 1W. (The rest of the system draws a few more watts, of course.) This is important to me because I have a couple of sites (I work for a WISP) that run off of wind and solar power. Since the Geode consumes less power than the average night light, I can plug it into one of those sites and not worry about it. I wouldn't even consider putting an EPIA-based machine at one of those sites--it would drain the batteries in just a few hours.

    The Geode isn't very good at running a GUI or any processor-intensive application. It is, however, good at running services like Apache, Nagios, and others.

    I think AMD is marketing these devices to the wrong crowd--they shouldn't be general-purpose computers for the third-world (the $100 laptop would put this to shame in terms of value). It should, however, be marketed to network geeks who need monitoring and testing tools at various locations across their network. No other device comes close in terms of cost and power consumption.

    I plan on buying dozens of the Thin Clients once they hit the market. They might not be perfect in every way (the processor-limited network transfers bug me), but they do have their uses.
  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @03:54PM (#13706930) Homepage
    A quote from the article:

    To protect system integrity and help ensure trouble-free performance over time, the ... PIC device is Microsoft® Windows® Powered.

    That oughta be good for some kind of karma!

There's no future in time travel.