World’s cheapest PC priced at $9 is also most smaller and more powerful

Next Thing Co., situated in an industrial section of Oakland, CA is a team of nine artists and engineers who are following the dream of a lower cost single board computer. Today, they uncovered their progress on Kickstarter, giving away a development board called Chip at $9. It is a new cheaper, smaller and more powerful computer than the Raspberry Pi that features all the same functions as a regular PC.

The Chip can be connected to display, keyboard and mouse through a number of ports, as well as connect with its inbuilt WiFi through the wireless internet.

The board is Open Hardware and and is capable of running on any Linux-based operating system. It is powered by a 1Ghz A13 processor. It has a 512MB of RAM and a storage capacity of 4GB. It is equivalent to the BeagleBone Black in clock speed, RAM and storage. It is more powerful than the Raspberry Pi B+. However, the Chip that differentiates Beagle is its built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and the simplicity with which it canbe carried around, thanks to the system that takes care of the battery operation.

"World's First" $9 computer launched by Next Thing Co.

Various additions can also be added to Chip, including an HDMI adapter, a single cell LiPO battery, and a PocketChip device that includes a touchscreen and keyboard. Chip comes with a dozen of apps pre-installed that includes games and a web browser.

Dave Rauchwerk from Next Thing Co. said that “The goal for Chip is to give anyone who wants a $9 computer access to one [and] to make building things with computers as easy and accessible as possible.”

“It’s really powerful, it’s really tiny, but the other thing that we’re really excited about is that it’s completely open source.”

"World's First" $9 computer launched by Next Thing Co.

“That means you can download the schematics, change Chip, figure out how it works to make it do whatever you want, and it also means that somebody else can make their own Chip.”

One should thank the inexpensive Chinese tablets for the invention of this cheap Chip. The System-on-Chip used in the development board is based on an A13 processor by Allwinner, a Shenzhen-based semiconductor company.

On May 7, a crowdfunding campaign was announced on Kickstarter with a $50,000 funding target, that was achieved within a few hours of going live. Next Thing Co. with the support of more than 3,000 backers had almost tripled this target at the time of publication.

This is not the first product Next Thing has offered on Kickstarter. The collaboration started among three friends, Thomas Deckert, Dave Rauchwerk, and Gustavo Huber who wanted to design an animated gif camera. This led them to enroll in and successfully complete HAXLR8R in the year 2014. With experience along with new business contacts and support, they created, manufactured, and successfully financed the camera of their dreams, OTTO. Its ability to attract 414 backers and raise $71,559 was an achievement. But more importantly, they have manufactured and are in the process of fulfilling rewards to backers.

Baring some unpredicted lack of interest in inexpensive, single board computers, Next Thing Co. should attract enough backers and reach their funding goal. Undoutedly, any crowdfunding campaign is not without risk. Trying to reestablish the cost of development boards is not likely to go unseen by larger players.

Chip is near reality. Though it uses the older A13, there is a working prototype. The new R8 based boards are due in the States later this week and the team has a positive crowd funding history. If they pull this off, there’s a great deal of potential for the community, says Rauchwerk.

“Success for us is them seeing what we’ve done and being excited about it and backing it.”

Chip will be ready for shipping in December 2015, while the second batch is likely to be ready by May 2016.


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