Have We Reached The Post-PC Era?
There’s no shortage of chatter in the blogosphere regarding this brave, new “post-PC era” that we’re entering. Now that low-cost Android-based devices are so clearly ready to take over for your PC, why on Earth would we possibly need the traditional desktop anymore, right?
Wrong. Sometimes you just need a large screen, full-sized keyboard, and precision pointing device to get the job done. That’s where the Kaser Net'sPC2 YF810-8G comes in. Packing Android 4.0 (also known as "Ice Cream Sandwich"), a low-power ARM SoC, keyboard, mouse, and a lot of the I/O you'd typically find on a workstation, the Net'sPC2 seeks to replace your desktop for the low, low price of just $100.
But what kind of performance can you expect from such an inexpensive device? And what is it like to use a touchscreen-oriented mobile operating system with a keyboard and mouse? And for that matter, what do we even compare this thing to?
After all, it would be unfair to pit a $100 nettop against the high-end hardware that we typically test. Comparing the Net'sPC2 to a $600 iPhone or $1,200 Ultrabook is just ridiculous. Even a simple Atom-based nettop costs two or three times the Kaser after adding a drive, memory, keyboard, and mouse. Price is clearly what makes this little thing unique, so we had to strike off in search of competition in the Android and PC worlds able to compete against the Net'sPC2 on cost.
What Does A Hundred Bucks Get You?
Let’s take a moment to think about what else a C-note buys these days. If you’re hungry, you can get about two dozen Big Macs. Or maybe ten buckets of the Colonel’s chicken. If you're shopping for consumer electronics, you could pick up a pair of iPod Shuffles or an HD-streaming Blu-ray box.
If you’re talking about the computer world, $100 doesn’t go very far. Of course, if you're being savvy, the used market isn't a bad place to look if you're on an extreme budget. A low-end home office PC from the (dreaded) Vista years goes for about $100, or even less if you hit up a thrift shop (Macklemore-style), an auction site, or the classifieds. And if you’re like any of us, you probably already have at least one older system lying around. That’s right, folks. We’re bringing out Grandma’s PC for this one.
Next, we need a representative from the Atom camp. Although new netbooks still sell for as little as $250, we pulled out a first-gen Dell Mini 10v to close that gap even more. Although a used Mini 10v can still probably fetch a higher price than the Kaser, unlike the Net'sPC2, Dell's Mini is a complete system since it includes a display.
Now let’s try to come up with a couple of Android-based products similar to Kaser's offering. Low-end, pre-paid Android smartphones with the same system specs go for around $100, or even less on sale. If a Benjamin is more than you want to spend on a burner, you could also get away with two really low-end Gingerbread-based devices for that much. Alternatively, you could double-up your investment and pick up the award-winning Nexus 7, which, like the Dell Mini 10v, is a complete system.
Finally, in order to provide a relevant frame of reference, we're also including the $400 Apple iPad 2. While this device is clearly out of Kaser’s league, Apple sold a ton of these things, and we already know that both the iPad 3 and iPad Mini test essentially the same as the iPad 2. Like the Vista box, we’re betting that many of you have at least one of these things at home. Hopefully, including the iPad 2 gives you a clearer picture of where the Net'sPC2 stands.
To compare Kaser's offering, we’re employing a handful of cross-platform benchmarks like Geekbench, 3DMark, GFXBench, and a scaled-down version of the Web Browser Grand Prix. But first, let’s take a closer look at the Net'sPC2 YF810-8G.
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Seriously? Another slow ARM processor with a bloated phone OS on a desktop. Tragic.Reply
I have something like that, a bloated Android HTPC that looks a bit like Raspberry Pi.Reply
How about adding it to the NAV system in a 2006 Acura TL that has a 7" touchscreen?Reply
Now AMD's APU is incredibly cheap, add 1g of ram a hdd lying around your home and your way better off with a x86 than this underpowered NO FLASH compatible no nothing system. Why are they even talking about such systems? I'm an Intel fanboy but got a AMD e350 system for my parents. I am amazed how well that little thing works for pretty much anything you encounter in daily use for little money (hdd 120g second hand, case and psu can be purchased for as little as 35$, mb+ram 65$ brand new)Reply
Wow, this is really overpriced or underspecced or both. The Allwinner A10 is simply a crappy chip. Single core Cortex A8, 16-bit RAM interface, 512MB limitation, that's pretty crap. I bought a Chinese tablet (Onda V712) for $125 with a quad core A7, 2GB of RAM and an 1280x800 IPS screen, so if you drop the screen I imagine this could all be put into $100, and provide much better performance. (It's about as powerful as the Nexus 7, a little slower on the CPU side and faster on the GPU side.)Reply
As for Android, it should also be possible to make it more usable. A better specced device would have 1080p native, and allowing to change DPI settings on the fly is likely to do wonders to usability on a bit screen (i.e., scale the UI instead of blowing it up).
Android also has some limited windows. It's a hack, but there are apps which support it, such as Tiny Apps, which provides a notes app, calculator, paint, music player and music recorder all running in their own small windows. There are also floating video players ("floating" is the Android app way of saying "windowed") and floating web browsers.
I think that an Android PC could be made usable (though not great). This one isn't it, and I feel that testing was too limited, but I won't fault you for it because any A10 device is not really worth a second look.
I checked out some Chinese stores, and indeed it's possible to buy something specced link my tablet (Allwinner A31, 2GB RAM, ...) for $90, and some dual core A9 1GB devices in the $80-$100 range. These should be much better than this particular piece of crap.Reply
"armed with a single Cortex-A8 core running at 1.0 GHz. For a little perspective, that's about half of the processing power wielded by the original iPad. "Reply
How come? 1st Gen iPad is powered by Apple A4 SoC which uses a 1GHz Cortex A8. And this Allwiner A10 is powered by the same Cortex A8.
This is very disappointing for a well known techsite.
how did you manage to select such a crappy representative of Android PCs, when for example the similarly priced Minix Neo X5 is several times more powerful and has an excellent, frequently updated OS ?Reply
G-Box Midnight MX2 is another good choice you might want to review. Serves as a good XBMC player out of the box, but can be used as an Android mini PC.Reply
About 6 months ago I picked up a dual CPU/quad GPU android PC stick, for $50 shipped. It lacks hardware ethernet or the plethora of USB ports, but it is pretty darn fast for how cheap it is. I suspect Kaser was the first of the "android pc" vendors to submit something to Tom's but is it too hard to hit up Aliexpress for comparable priced units?Reply