Ever since the Raspberry Pi came to be, there have been a lot of these mini-computers that go for under $100, and are typically based on ARM, and use Linux or Android. Some of them stand out more than others due to their good design, or great specs for a very low price. This new mini PC called CuBox-i offers a little of both – nice design, reminding me a little of an OUYA, and it costs only $10 more than the “higher-end” version of Raspberry Pi, but with better specs.
For $10 more you get an ARMv7 CPU, which is something I wished the Raspberry Pi had. Unfortunately, Raspberry Pi came with the ancient, more than a decade old, ARMv6 architecture, which many developers and companies, including Canonical with Ubuntu and Google with some of its apps for Android, aren’t supporting it anymore.
But why should they? We’re on the verge of moving to the 64 bit ARMVv8 architecture next year. Supporting a 2-generation old architecture is pretty crazy at this point, especially considering those old ARMv6 chips don’t have very high performance, and these new modern operating systems run pretty slow on them.
So that’s one major thing the CuBox-i computer has over the Raspberry Pi. The 1GH Cortex A8 CPU should also be about 2x faster than the 700 Mhz ARM11 CPU that the Raspberry Pi has, and it also comes with twice as much RAM (512 MB). The device comes with a microSD card slot on which to store the OS, 10/100 Ethernet, WiFi 802.11b/g/n and optional Bluetooth, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI 1.4, an IR receiver, and SPDIF out.
If you have no need for such a low-end computer, you can buy the high-end version that costs $120, and comes with a quad core processor, 2 GB of RAM, gigabit Ethernet (470Mbps actual bandwidth due to internal chip busses limitation), and Bluetooth – all in the same tiny form factor. There are a couple of other in-between versions that cost less, too, so there are plenty of options for whatever need you may have for such mini PC. You can pre-order any of them, right now.