Is a $35 PC the Future of Computing? : Page 2

Just as the tablet is poised to take over computing, the Rasperry PI Foundation plans to launch a full-featured machine for the price of a fancy lunch.
Posted January 24, 2012

Matt Harley

(Page 2 of 2)

Think of it this way. If you're working from a workstation that is used to simply access resources from another server, while running office suite-type applications, the odds are a low cost PC will offer you plenty of power for these types of tasks.

The fact of the matter is it's really difficult to dismiss the benefit of using a sub-$100 workstation. Even if it meant sharing another more powerful workstation to handle image or video editing.

I've found that often, most people in the workplace have more PC power than they really need. The alternative to this, of course, is to simply use these low cost units for something less taxing than standard computing in the first place.

Low cost media centers

Whether it's for internal training, or perhaps to be used for other purposes, there is something to be said about having access to a low-cost media center. And when you look at all of the options available, I find myself leaning heavily toward the Raspberry PI or the CuBox, as both options will run XBMC without any problems. This means old company training videos can legally be dropped onto one of these PCs and then shared easily thanks to the various display ports provided.

Need to display a much heavier program for training purposes but can't because the original PC is in another part of the building? Why not use VNC and one of these low cost PCs to share the demonstration in a better-suited environment? At $35, using a Raspberry PI as a method to provide demonstrations has a lot of potential. Especially considering how portable it and similar low cost PCs truly are.

Need to send some video from your iPad to a Raspberry PI or CuBox PC so the others in a meeting can see it? Not a problem, as you can see in this video, Linux users can run a small Airplay service and push video content to their low cost Linux computers with relative ease.

Schools and Non-profits environments

After having an opportunity to research both the Raspberry PI and CuBox recently, I can see there's a lot of potential here. Even if the enterprise world simply isn't interested in implementing these low cost PCs into the daily work-flow, there are other areas where these PCs could do well.

The first area that comes to mind is in the education sector. With shrinking budgets and the need to keep our kids tech-savvy, using sub-$100 PCs offers a lot of merit.

Another related area these types of PCs could see success is with cash-strapped non-profits. Cheap to purchase, reasonably simple to maintain, the only challenge here is deciding how many of these PCs are enough!

And considering the fact that these PCs can run full Linux distributions without having to work as a thin client, the sky is the limit for any non-profit looking to expand the number of available workstations.

Low cost PCs of the future

So what will the future of low cost PCs look like? Will they continue to evolve into tablets and netbooks? Or perhaps we'll see an up-tick in more computers similar to Raspberry PI or the CuBox, due to their overall cheapness? However this all shakes out, I believe that price will eventually trump portability with the masses.

As fun as tablet computing can be, the cold-hearted fact of the matter is that they're a poor substitute for real computers. Therefore, I suspect we will be seeing more and more emphasis on ultra-cheap computers as time goes on. Maybe even with Raspberry PI or the CuBox leading the way forward!

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Tags: PC, Ubuntu, tablet PC, ultra low cost PC

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