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Endless On A Mission To Bring Information Age To All With $79 PC

I recently had the chance to have a chat with Matt Dalio, CEO, Founder and Chief of Product at Endless, and if there’s one thing I’ve taken away from that talk, it’s that he is passionate about bringing access to the information age to the rest of the world. Endless’s newest computer, the Endless Mini, launches today, and it will lower the price of entry to home computing to be accessible to vastly more people than ever before.

The Problem

It’s hard to believe that in the beginning of 2016, when the average person in Western civilization carries a smartphone in their pocket at all times, more than half the world’s population doesn’t have access to a home computer. The community at Tom’s Hardware would probably find that harder to believe than most people; as computer enthusiasts, we tend to take for granted what these wonderful devices do for us every single day. I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to not have constant access to a computer, but for 4.5 billion people, that is their reality.

One of the major reasons for the limited access to computers in emerging markets is the cost. Dalio explained that there are a number of factors that cause this, such as import taxes and low sales volume. He said computers cost more in developing nations from his observations. A home computer is an expensive purchase for people in these countries but if you can keep the price low enough so that anyone can afford one, the problem is abated.

Driving Down Costs

Dalio said it occurred to him that the average smartphone has the potential to be a desktop computer. To cut the costs down, he and his team at Endless started with more or less that level of hardware. They omitted the display, because so many people have a TV screen already, as well as the antennas for cellular data, which aren’t needed in a desktop, and built the Endless PC around what was left. The company then created its own operating system based on a customized Linux distribution that Dalio said is easy to pick up, even if you’ve never used a computer.

The first iteration of the Endless PC has been selling in Guatemala in two versions. One is a system with 32 GB of storage for $169, and the other is a 500 GB version for $229. Dalio said the original product was designed to be the best possible PC for emerging markets, regardless of price. That computer sold well, but it wasn’t accessible to everyone. Endless is now ready to lower the price of entry even further with the launch of the Endless Mini.

Dalio said the Endless Mini PC is a fully functioning desktop PC priced at an incredibly low price. Although, as Dalio stated, the Endless Mini PC is a fully functioning desktop PC, it's by no means a super high-performance system such as those found on the desks of many of our readers, but it does provide everything you would need to get access to the Internet and all of its vast troves of information.

The Endless Mini features an Amlogic S805 quad core ARM Cortex A5 SoC operating at 1.5 GHz and comes in two variants. The Endless Mini 24GB has 24 GB of solid state storage and 1 GB of RAM, and the Endless Mini 32GB has 32 GB of storage and 2 GB of memory, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Both options include HDMI and composite video output, 3.5 mm stereo and mic jack, gigabit Ethernet and three USB 2.0 ports. The systems come preloaded with the Endless operating system.

Dalio said that the Endless operating system has been designed to be used by people who don’t normally use a computer. He said the interface is simple to learn and at the same time has tons of potential for robust applications because it was built on top of Linux.

Content With No Connection

The Endless OS comes pre-loaded with lots of compelling content that you can get to with or without an Internet connection. It features Wikipedia, Khan Academy and over 100 applications pre-loaded on the device that you can access offline. It even includes first aid information, which could be invaluable to someone who has to travel long distances for medical attention.

When queried about how the contents of Wikipedia could fit onto the local system, Dalio explained that 80 percent of searches on Wikipedia are for three percent of the data. Endless focused on archiving the most important information to be accessed offline. Dalio noted that there is more than three percent of Wikipedia on the device, though.

The Endless operating system also comes pre-loaded with many courses from Khan Academy. Again, the company took the approach of storing the most relevant information locally. Dalio said there is approximately 6 GB worth of Khan Academy lessons stashed on board. 

“As the entire world shifts online, Endless Mini will be a key catalyst in bringing the unconnected people of emerging areas into the information age. Endless Mini will provide people in remote areas of the world the opportunity to learn different languages, develop technical skill sets and build businesses. At the affordable price of $79, Endless Mini is the first product since the mobile phone to ignite technology innovation on a global scale,” said Dalio. “Endless Mini will be a key product in the future of this evolution and the knowledge economy, Endless will be an integral part in bringing the next five billion people online.”

Latin America, Prepare

The Endless Mini will go on sale in February. Dalio said it is focusing on Latin America to start off and will expand to other markets once distribution channels, such as the agreement in Guatemala, are in place.

Endless has worked with a cellular carrier in Guatemala to distribute the Endless Mini locally, and Dalio told me that company has agreed to sell the hardware with zero profit margin. He wouldn’t name the company in question, but he said that it believed in the mission of bringing home computers to its nation and is willing forgo profits for widespread distribution. Dalio noted the Endless Mini will be available with data plans that will spread the cost of the device over several months.

PROCESSORAmlogic S805, Quad Core, ARM Cortex A5, 1.50 GHz, Mali-450 GPUAmlogic S805, Quad Core, ARM Cortex A5, 1.50 GHz, Mali-450 GPU
MOTHER BOARDCustom Endless DesignCustom Endless Design
CHIPSETMali-450 GPU (part of SoC)Mali-450 GPU (part of SoC)
I/OHDMI, Composite Video, 3.5mm stereo out plus micHDMI, Composite Video, 3.5mm stereo out plus mic
MEMORY SLOTSNone: Soldered to BoardNone: Soldered to Board
HARD DRIVE24 GB Solid State Storage32 GB Solid State Storage
WIFINo802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi enabled
BLUETOOTHNoBluetooth 4.0
AUDIO3.5 mm out with mic in3.5 mm out with mic in
NETWORKINGRJ-45 gigabit Ethernet portRJ-45 gigabit Ethernet port
KEYBOARDnot includednot included
MOUSEnot includednot included
SPEAKERSnot includednot included
POWER SUPPLY15W, 5V output 100-240v, 50/60Hz input15W, 5V output 100-240v, 50/60Hz input
PORTS2x USB 2.0 ports (rear), 1x USB 2.0 port (front)2x USB 2.0 ports (rear), 1x USB 2.0 port (front)

The Endless Mini is meant for emerging markets, but it is possible for you to order one online and have it delivered to North America. Its easy interface could be perfect to introduce elderly family members, for example, to the benefits of computer use.

Nearly half of the world’s population has access to personal computers and Internet access on a daily basis, and as a result, the people with that access have seen their lives flourish. Imagine what the world will be like when the rest of us are online. That’s the future that Endless is striving for.

Follow Kevin Carbotte @pumcypuhoy. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.