VIA outs tiny cheap Android PC

Posted by Shane McGlaun

If you're a big fan of the Android operating system, mainboard and small form factor PC maker VIA has a new and very cheap computer designed to run Android that might pique your interest.

The machine is simply called the APC or Android PC. Don't let the name fool you though, as this is a mainboard - not a complete machine.

Meaning, you'll still need a case and peripherals to go along with the power supply to finish this rig up.

So what you do get for $49? A tiny mini ITX mainboard roughly half the size of a standard mini ITX board measuring 170 x 85 mm. You should be able to fit that board into a standard mini ITX chassis without much effort. Of course, would have been nice to see VIA offer the solution packed into one of its small form factor computer cases ready to run.

With the price so low, you'll obviously be getting basic hardware. The machine runs an ARM11 SoC built by VIA's Wondermedia subsidiary. That's an 800 MHz part with hardware assisted 720p video decoding. The machine also has 512 MB of DDR3 memory, and 2 GB of integrated flash storage. You won't be storing a lot of apps or software on this machine, but it should make for very nice and compact media streaming computer for the living room.

Other features include an integrated BIOS chip, audio controller, and an Ethernet controller that offers gigabit speed. The machine can be powered by an external 12 V adapter or an internal four-pin 12 V connector. The mainboard also has USB 2.0 header and a chassis connector pin header. The 12 V power connector is built into the board on the back panel, which is probably the best solution for powering. You also get four USB ports, VGA output, HDMI output, and a small microSD card slot for storage expansion on the back panel. It's too bad this little platform doesn't support full HD video.