Computing devices are getting cheaper by the day. I’m not talking about the phones, tablets, laptops and desktops you’ll find at your local electronics retailer. Think of the Raspberry Pi, the small $25 bare-bones computer that debuted a year ago.
Now, a higher-powered computer announced in November, the Odroid U2, is available and will set you back $89. Although Odroid is aimed at developers, anyone with a little technical know-how can use it for a full desktop experience.
The Odroid U2 is leaps and bounds more capable than the Raspberry Pi, which explains the higher cost. A quad-core 1.7 GHz Samsung chip powers the device, which is smaller than a credit card. A full 2 GB of memory, two USB ports, integrated Ethernet and a Mali-400 Quad Core 440MHz graphics chip are all on board. Essentially, Odroid U2 has the guts and computational capability of a high-end smartphone from about a year ago for $89.
What could you do with this mini-computer? On his Tao of Mac blog, Rui Carmo shares some of his recent experiences with the Odroid U2, which include installing a customized version of Android, adding Python for Android, a remote desktop client and later installing Linux. All of this runs on the 1920 x 1080 monitor Carmo attached to the Odroid U2. His thoughts?
“Most people would probably look at using this as a media centre (for which it is eminently suitable), to run arcade emulators (which I did, but mostly to be amazed at the speed of the thing), and, of course, for testing apps.
Me, I set up Evernote, Facebook Messenger and Flipboard on it (besides a number of Google Apps and a couple of terminal emulators), and soon had a couple of Android apps of my own running on it — one of them compiled locally using AIDE.”
Would I recommend running out and buying an Odroid as your next primary computer? Not at all. But for those who like to tinker, want to run Android or use a flavor of Linux for ARM on the desktop as a secondary, low-cost device, this is worth a look.