The smallest PC ever - without display, keyboard, or mouse?

by Guy Kewney | posted on 25 October 2003

Antelope is just two weeks away from launching the Mobile Computing Core - everything you need from a PC in a box the size of a (big) PDA. It's a desktop, a hand-held, a wearable, and a notebook. Oh, and it will cost upwards of $4,000.

Guy Kewney

"You have to remember things will get better," said Antelope president Ken Geyer. "The video chip is power hungry; next year, nvidia will have a new chip, with more memory, less power hungry, generating less heat; other components beside the processor will also become cheaper and cooler. As we go into 2004, this will make it more efficient."

Power consumption, by notebook PC standards, is ordinary; even in the notebook "cradle" for the mobile computing core (MCC) Antelope reckons to get 3 to 4 hours. "We're being very conservative on power consumption; hope to get better; the boards just started coming out," commented Geyer.

The corporation promises better figures from a fully researched study by end November.

The core plugs into three possible cradles, and evaluation units, shipping from November 7th to the end of the year, will cost $4,000, including the desktop, laptop and PDA versions. The money saving?

"That comes from simpler support, and reduced licensing costs. You would normally need two XP licences, two Office licences, and the support costs associated with supporting two PCs and one PDA," explained Geyer.

The battery life isn't a problem, he thinks; they are assuming all users will have two batteries (around $50 each). And they are "warm swappable" - hit the Windows "suspend" button, swap batteries, and resume, to give twice the battery life, and even allow recharging of the spare.

The product is an illustration - if anybody needed one - of the penalty you pay in size and battery life and price, for going for the WIntel x86 platform. But Antelope says that actually, the product will save corporate buyers large sums of money over the alternative of buying a desktop and a notebook and a Pocket PC for executives.

The design of the Antelope is simple, and comes from IBM: it was nothing but a disk, wrapped up in a processor and chipset, complete with video circuits. The core plugs into a "shell" according to what you want it to do.

It appeared almost a year after another Crusoe based low-power PC for the pocket - the OQO. The OQO starred at the WinHec conference for Microsoft in 2002, while the Antelope was launched at DemoMobile 2003. The omens aren't wonderful for Antelope: the OQO has yet to ship.

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