Ex-Google engineers promise ultra-low cost Android PC

August 20, 2015 // By Julien Happich
Run all your favourite Android apps like on a smartphone, yet benefit from all the productivity tools commonly found on today's PCs by plugging a palm-sized $49 box to your favourite display, mouse and keyboard: that’s the pledge of three ex-Google engineers on their Remix Mini kickstarter campaign.

The trio founded the Jide Technology Co., Ltd software and hardware startup last year in Beijing, China, with roots back to the Silicon Valley where the three founders, Jeremy Chau, David Ko and Ben Luk have lead or worked on key Google projects such as AdWords, Google Maps, or Google Search. Within a few weeks of campaign, the new company has raised nearly a million dollars in excess of their humble USD 50,000 goal from 18,763 backers for their Remix Mini.

Built around a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor, the ellipse-shaped 124mm long and 88mm wide Android PC, only 26mm thick, runs on Remix OS, a custom engineered version of Android Lollipop developed by Jide Technology. The small box packs Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity options and will run under 10 watts, drawing an order of magnitude less power than what most desktop computers would consume today by leveraging existing power efficiencies found in mobile CPU architectures.

Two versions will be offered, one with 1 Gbyte of RAM and 8 Gbyte storage, which could be used as a home media center, to stream and download movies; and a beefed up 2 Gbyte RAM with 16GB storage version to be used as a productivity tool.

Thanks to the Remix OS, users have access to the entire Android app ecosystem (over 1.5 million apps) while taking full advantage of intuitive PC features such as a start menu, a taskbar, multiple window multi-tasking, mouse and keyboard support. For ease of use, a capacitive touch power button on top of the Remix Mini will boot everything in working condition within seconds, like on a tablet but extended with your traditional PC peripherals (any large screen you please among other things).

So, Jide Technology claims to offer a PC-like experience at a very low cost and open to all Android apps, but couldn't this have been done more cheaply by simply using an HDMI interface and some sort of hypervisor app on a smartphone to bring on-board that PC-feel? We asked the company.

"The purpose of Remix OS and Remix-based products is to do more than bring a PC-feel to smartphones. The idea is that there are certain functionalities and features that are better fit for larger screen devices. As such, Remix OS incorporates such features into a mobile operating system" wrote us Jeff Zhao, international marketing manager at Jide Technology Co., Ltd.