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Saintsong Releases A New Mini PC 123

A reader writes "Saintsong, our favorite manufacturer of tiny PC's (see here and here) is at it again. They've released the TX2 version of the Cappuccino PC everyone drooled over not to long ago. It's designed by Gingko corp., the same folks who designed the iMac. The new unit includes 2 Firewire ports and an additional 2 USB ports over it's predecessor, the Cappuccino GX1. Unfortunately it appears that Saintsong is only distributing it in kit form, so you'll have to supply your own socket 370 processor, RAM, hdd, etc. No prices are listed, but it's still a slick looking toy."
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Saintsong Releases A New Mini PC

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  • Now if only I could find a dual ethernet version I could make a mini-firewall.

  • by RainbowSix ( 105550 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @05:19PM (#2117157) Homepage
    This is plain to see. The machine is small enough, you can mount it inside your CRT monitor and have your own x86 imac!
  • After reading up on it, I'm actually interested. The modem issue can be circumvented no problem. Slap a fat HD in this badboy and you at least have a decent side box to store and work with differant media. The TV out is handy, and is the biggest feature I see. Might use it as an Arcade Cabinet brain. Stick in on a wireless LAN and you have some interesting gaming options...
  • Its tiny (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nastard ( 124180 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:14PM (#2122606)
    It looks kinda like a fat walkman. The idea that this thing can fit current technology (hdd, cpu, etc) is a pretty good indicator that "wearable" computers and other supercool technology isn't too far behind (in usable form, that is).

    And yes, I can imagine a beowulf cluster of these.
    • Re:Its tiny (Score:2, Funny)

      by Telastyn ( 206146 )
      Actually, it looks an awful lot like my Dreamcast.
    • Agreed, but what we really need is better computer-human I/O It's just too hard to tote my 19" monitor and IBM click keyboard around with me. But it's nice that the PC is so much lighter!

      Actually, this is pretty cool, but keyboards and displays are still a big issue.
      • Re:Its tiny (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nastard ( 124180 )
        High-resolution goggles that don't look retarded and similarly non-retarded motion-sensor gloves would be the best answer (that I can think of, anyway).

        Optional solution: REALLY fast PDA.
        • I would personally prefer a usb jack in the back of my head. Maybe behind my ear, or at the back of my neck. That would be a "real" PDA, imuho.

          neh
    • Re:Its tiny (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 )
      Ugh, it's got an external powersupply. Not a blob, more of a brick, dunno how some folks feel, but I could stand a little larger case and not having to deal with these things.
    • And yes, I can imagine a beowulf cluster of these.

      So how many MIPS would I get out of my pile of dirty clothes? >;-)

  • Heh. Take a look [saintsong.com.tw] at the processor spec. It just struck me as funny that they call the Pentium III, the "Pentium !!!"

    Clever translation of the logo into ASCII, if you ask me. Too bad they didn't italicize it. Pentium !!!

    Dong. Dong Dong Dee-Dong.

    • When I worked at Intel a while back, they had stringent corporate specifications that told employees exactly how we were allowed to spell various product names. The Pentium !!! was, in fact, specified as being three italicized exclamation marks in the Arial font.
  • When is... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:18PM (#2132469) Journal
    When is the industry going to realize that we need a new compact format PC. This thing looks great but its pricey when you compare it to the costs of off the shelf components.

    How about a "disposable" PC form factor? Currently, you can get a mini-ATX with integrated LAN/video/modem/sound for well under $100 US. Pitch the dimm slots, processor ZIF socket, and PCI/ISA slots for non-expandable, non-upgradeable permanant RAM, processor and a firewire or USB expansion standard. This would cut even more overhead off the cost of the individual components. Buy them all on one small board. This improves reliability in harsh environments as well. Screw upgrading things on an individual basis. You can get a Duron 750 for under $30. Have you seen the price of RAM these days?

    There is so much computing power to be leveraged by other markets. This may very well be the thing that brings the PC to other markets.
    • This thing looks great but its pricey when you compare it to the costs of off the shelf components. [snip] Currently, you can get a mini-ATX with integrated LAN/video/modem/sound for well under $100 US. Pitch the dimm slots, processor ZIF socket, and PCI/ISA slots for non-expandable, non-upgradeable permanant RAM, processor and a firewire or USB expansion standard. This would cut even more overhead off the cost of the individual components.

      What are you smoking? Sure, it sounds good on paper, but have you priced PC104 motherboards lately? That's the form factor you're looking at here, and it's an industry standard so it should be cheap (at least, cheaper than building a custom motherboard from scratch). Find me one with a 486 or better for under $100. No, really, please find me one -- I can imagine a Beowulf culster of them, and I'd love to build one, but at current prices it's just not an option.

    • This is the direction things are going. The latest form factors (flexATX and VIA's ITX) are quite small, packed with goodies, and cheap to produce. With VIA's ITX especially, you'll going to see very quiet, low power 10x9x3" boxes with ample capabilities for _most_ home/business uses.
    • You have just described a console.

    • Portable CPU, yes, but don't be messing with my monitor size or fullsize keyboard. I've got one of them poopy VAIO ultraslim laptops and it's, over the space of a couple hours, very stressful to type on (since I have XL hands) and the little monitor gives me a minor headache. Maybe with some of those glasses with the built in monitor...hmm, how they work for animiation/stream video anyway?
      • Those puppies have really crappy resolution. Even the expensive "borg-look" units have only 800x600 monochrome at best. Fine for portable applications, lousy for doing work that needs lots of screen real estate (like programming)
    • Re:When is... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mcspock ( 252093 )
      I think the end result will be less reliance on a central PC. If you look at it right now, the only people who really _need_ a serious PC are: 1) Gamers
      2) Software developers
      3) Graphics artists (i'll argue that lots of these use Macs :))

      Having cheap individual devices will be the direction things will go, but not using PC parts. If you're interested in browsing the web, does it matter what the underlying hardware is? No. And there are cheaper processors available (like xscale). This is the general thought behind embedded devices being the future.

      It's funny that we're supposedly in the era where the network is king, but people are still spending a lot of money on PCs, which are inherently centralized multi-purpose devices (instead of decentralized, purpose-built, network enabled devices).
      • and the biggest hurdle is :

        Microsoft Windows

        and I'm not wontanly bashing. With the browser war almost over (casualties on both sides) the sheer dominance of IE means cute little web browsing boxes on non x86 struggle to compete. Unless you want the WinCE experience!

        There are already boxes around that are up to the job :
        http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT268354996 7. html

        and many small mb form factors
        http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT261444413 2. html

        embedded applications are all over the place.

        produces like Inferno or embedded linux aren't new kids they are mature systems.

        the problem is software I'm afraid.

        a good little web browsing box needs a good little web browser.

        Inferno has Charon (based on NS3) and embedded linux has all the linux browsers.

        Those determined enough can live with the hairyness but sit it on top of the tv for the kids and be prepared for "dad/mum/guardian the computer's gone funny" at least once an hour. (and that's from experience)

        We're stuck with the saddest legacy of the behemoth.

        They day you build the terminator program it go back in time and get IBM to choose a diff OS for it's PC and see how that one panned out.

        We need a pantheon not mono-deity.

  • Silly Video Card (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ink ( 4325 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:25PM (#2133447) Homepage
    Intel 82815, Video Memory 4MB (shared Memory).
    Supports up to 1280 by 1024-pixel at 24bits per pixel 15 pin mini D-sub VGA connector
    One S video port
    One AV video port

    They need to put in a GeForce mobility chip. If you're already going to pay a pretty penny for style, you may as well fork over the extra $80 for a somewhat decent video card.

    • Not like I wouldn't love a GeForce2Go in one of these, but perhaps overheating is an issue? The description mentions some of the design methods they used to effectively dissipate heat but that might not be enough with a graphic chip like that. Sure they're designed for laptops but we're talking a much smaller form factor. (and laptops are thinner over a wider surface area)

    • by tf23 ( 27474 )
      Exactly - and only dimm slot. Which would be OK if it took a 512 - but it doesn't:

      "One 144-pin DIMM slot for PC100/133Mhz SDRAM. Upgradeable to 256MB. "

      Upgrade the video, let me put a 512 dimm in it that's work, drop the entire price a bit and I'd consider buying the kit to build one.

  • by reaper20 ( 23396 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:53PM (#2134209) Homepage
    While visiting a friend for an extended stay, he lent me his Book PC [dansdata.com] to anything I needed to do. I thought "Thanks, he won't lend me a laptop or anything, I get stuck with a 'convergence' crap box that probably sucks." I was extremely surprised about how easy and fun this little thing is.

    Add a processor, mem, and drive, and it's good to go. Great form factor and most everything is built into the mobo, sound, USB, ethernet, and even a TV out. The intel iCrap chipset needs to go, but other than that, a BookPC with a Happy Hacker keyboard look great and run linux extremely well (except for the modem).

    If they only had one for Athlon chips, you'd have an extremely capbale '2nd computer'. I'm going to pick one up the second they have better video cards.
    • I own one of these... it makes a neat little server box. Get your own CPU, RAM, hard drive, and you're good to go. No need for another monitor, I've got it's video out plugged into the TV.

      Only down side is the thing is that it is fairly loud, for something so tiny. I've got it sitting in my living room, and it's fan noise is rather noticable. My dream is to have an appliance-like system I can use for general purpose stuff. Sort of like a TiVo, but with more oomph, and of course. general purpose. And quiet. Until then, though, the Book PC is a nice, cheap alternative.

  • by mac123 ( 25118 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:22PM (#2135086)
    http://www.ibuypower.com/product-pc/pocket-epc2.ht m
    • Prices (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fencepost ( 107992 )
      Minimal config (Celeron 700, 128MB, 10GB, CD) runs around $1000; better config (PIII-866, 256MB, 30GB, DVD) runs around $1600. Both of these are with no OS.

      In contrast, I can get a Dell Inspiron 8100 with not-quite-comparable specs for $1700-1800 (Dell's improvement prices are steep) or a WinBook with very similar specs for about the same. Oh, and those include a built-in UPS, a keyboard, and a monitor.

      Overall an interesting toy, but I can't really see what advantages it has. With all the ports on the sides and back there'll be cables sticking out all over (besides, it needs airflow) and the fourth side has to be kept clear for the CD/DVD drive. I can see it as a prototype for a gaming or set-top box, but that's about it.

    • MUCH better price! (Score:4, Informative)

      by isaac_akira ( 88220 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @05:46PM (#2154676)
      the above poster is linking to the OLDER model, without firewire and with only 2 usb ports. if you want one of those older machines, check out this link:

      http://www.directron.com/ezgo.html [directron.com]

      You can get the barebones system (no ram, hd, cpu, etc) for only $420. Great if you already have that stuff lying around from previous upgrades.

      i haven't seen anywhere selling the newer machines yet.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Why don't you friggin mods check the links first??? This is NOT the computer in the article!
      Where can we buy one of these kits?
      • You're right! I was "fixing" the link in the earlier post but didn't realize it was simply wrong. Whoops. Somebody please mod me back down if you have the points to burn.
    • Fixed link [ibuypower.com]. Unfortunately, it looks like a bit pricey [ibuypower.com].
      • Hey, look at the operating system configuration options: $75 off without Windows. This is the first time I've seen anybody offer that, I hope it's a trend.
  • By using the bright sliver and dark gray colors to display a high tech and high qualify image.
    I too often use bright sliver to give a product a high qualify image. And sentance fragments! Tasty sentance fragments *drool*.

    Believing that this full function Mini Book PC, Cappuccino TX2, will bring you more working space and be far away from the table mess.
    Ah, yes I see. When you don't actually plug anything into the unit and just let it sit like a paper weight there's no mess at all.

    Don't get me wrong, it looks like a great idea and might actually be done right. Too bad their page appears to be written and editted by a 4 year old.

    I build you this mini-book PC in order to have your advice.

    • If you're going to mock one's mastery of the English language, you should probably spell "sentence" and "edited" correctly.
      • While you are mocking "one's" mastery of the English language, I was in fact mocking an entire corporation. These people's livelihoods are at stake if their products don't sell but if my comments on /. get 0 or 10 billion hits it makes no difference to me or those that depend on me.

        If I had been paid to write product copy and spit out crap like they did my ass woulda been dumped on the sidewalk years ago. In a world where M$ has proven that "it's all about the marketing", you'd really think companies would take the extra 5 minutes to paint a grammatically accurate image of themselves.

        Yeah, that's it: a high qualify image in bright sliver!

    • ;^)He he! I liked this one: Two FireWire (1394) ports speed up fire transfer.... Yes, it is very important that the transfer of fire in to and out of computers is quick. Burn!
  • by Wordsmith ( 183749 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:25PM (#2140365) Homepage
    Can we get some Imac-style flavors too? I want a Moccachino and a Frappachino PC, please.

  • I suspect you'll have to read it with lynx [browser.org], because Netscape 4.77 doesn't render it too badly to be able to read.

    I don't have any other browsers on-hand to test it with.

  • by Nastard ( 124180 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:34PM (#2143696)
    If I didn't know better, I would have assumed this to be vaporware.

    With a name like cappuccino, could we coin the term "foamware"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 17, 2001 @06:20PM (#2149960)
    Directron.com sells a similar, if not the same machine for much less than ibuypower.com. Search that site for ezgo and you'll come up with the machine. Also, check out www.atoz-ezgo.com.tw for information on the same sort of system. The systems seem identical. I thought the Saintsong site and the AtoZ site were different fronts for the same company, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
  • Power Requirements (Score:3, Interesting)

    by oldzoot ( 60984 ) <morton.jamesNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:36PM (#2154353)
    Too bad it wants 18Vdc at 3A. If it were lower voltage, it would be trivial to power it from a car. Might make a neat auto-mobile computer. Also, I wonder why they will not support 512K memory modules??

    Z
  • Believing that this full function Mini Book PC, Cappuccino TX2, will bring you more working space and be far away from the table mess.

    More likely, the way my desks go, it'll get lost in the mess. It's a good thing it's (UL) approved, but it looks like it'd still be difficult to balance a cup of espresso on.

    • Believing that this full function Mini Book PC, Cappuccino TX2, will bring you more working space and be far away from the table mess.

      I can't imagine how it would create less of a table mess than the standard PC case. At least with my other computers all the wiring comes out of one side. This thing looks cute, but with wires coming out of three sides of the unit it wouln't be possible to sit it next to anything else. The keyboard and mouse connections at the very least should either come out the front or the back.

  • by axlrosen ( 88070 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:13PM (#2154381) Homepage
    This FAQ [everymac.com] says that the iMac was designed in-house by Apple.
    • by sg3000 ( 87992 )
      I was a little confused when I read the story (maybe they were trying to increase the hit count from Apple users that click on any story that mentions Apple, iMac, etc.)

      I thought the iMac started the return of Apple doing their industrial design in-house. Jonathan Ive, who heads the group, has been doing some great stuff: the iMac, PowerBook G4, (illfated) Cube, G4 Power Mac, all great designs. Prior to that Apple used to hire outside companies to design their products.

      This isn't the first time they've had someone take credit for Apple's in-house work. The original Mac was designed by someone within Apple, but FrogDesign has been taking credit for it ever since. If I remember correctly, it turns out that FrogDesign put together the design language for Apple's post Apple II products (namely the Apple IIc), but not for the Mac. Later on, the Mac was redone to take that language into account -- I believe it was started with the Mac SE. But the original toaster design was done by some guy at Apple who's name escapes me.
  • I did n't see anywhere where it said it supported Linux. I think on the other 2 that they had they had Linux support or Linux compatable.

    I wonder if you can run anything other than windows on it???

    • The hardware seems pretty standard,. Intel chips, PC133 RAM, Intel built-in video, generic sound chip that says it's SoundBlaster(Adlib?) compatible. The modem and NIC might be gotchas though depending on what they're using. Still, I wouldn't think Linux would be out of the realm of possibility. Probably acts a lot like a laptop.
  • by hey ( 83763 )
    According to their page, the TX2 only supports:

    • Windows 98 Se
    • Windows 2000
    • Windows NT
    • Windows Me

    Well, that's no good

  • With the price, the size, and the styling.... I'm in. WAIT A MINUTE. HEY, where's the mini-stick port?
  • Unfortunately it appears that Saintsong is only distributing it in
    kit form, so you'll have to supply your own socket 370 processor, RAM, hdd, etc.
    Reminds me of one of the professors I work with who teaches the chip design classes here. A student mentioned to him that he'd recently built a computer, and the professor thought that was pretty interesting. When he found out that by "built a computer" the student meant he'd done little more than plug the CPU into the ZIF socket all by himself, he replied to me, "Built a computer?! That's Lincoln Logs!"

    Yeah yeah, so it's off-topic. Anyhoo. The device does look pretty spiffy. Hey, maybe I could get a job proofreading Saintsong's English. ;) Well, back to lurking.

  • by hodeleri ( 89647 ) <drbrain@segment7.net> on Friday August 17, 2001 @06:13PM (#2155242) Homepage Journal
    Two FireWire (1394) ports speed up fire transfer

    I didn't know that FireWire ports could also transfer fire. If only it had an internal battery it would be great for camping trips...

    • This will really help when they create the Magnesium Limited Edition.
    • I didn't know that FireWire ports could also transfer fire.

      That's why it's very important to install a firewall to ensure that only friendly fire is transferred, and that malignant fires are stopped.

    • I didn't know that FireWire ports could also transfer fire.


      Yea, thats apart of the all important security system. The firwire ports "transfer fire" to whomever tries to steal it. They get a nasty burn from the flame thrower
  • Desk-drawer web server/morpheus server/etc. Pretty cool.
  • re: kits only (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gnudutch ( 235983 )
    Righteous!
    • Darn tootin'! How many times I looked at the original Cap and thought "Gee, I wish I didn't have to pay them for the privilege of throwing away their overpriced RAM."
  • Adlib compatible! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by los furtive ( 232491 )

    Wow! People still use Adlib? I though Creative/Soundblaster nuked them off the face of the earth!

  • With two more ethernet ports this would make a perfect dsl router/firewall. -- Daniel
    • 1.) At $420 sans everything, it's still more expensive than a router and hub combo such as the ones sold by Linksys.
      2.) A USB NIC would be fast enough for most broadband connections, which are usually less than 1.5Mbps.

      So, you could do it, but I don't know why you would.
  • by Windjammer ( 145853 ) on Friday August 17, 2001 @04:38PM (#2155708)
    This thing would be very cool if they would drop the friggen modem and add a 2nd nic interface. I'd have my boss purchase one of these devices simply to make the thing into a firewall/proxy server......I know that I wanted to build one of those linux advanced radio terminals (lart)...but I don't have the $$$ or the experience to build the **** thing...
  • http://www.apple.com/powermaccube/
  • then you could do a beowulf in a breadbox!

    whee!

    // james
  • What's with the parallel and RS-232 ports? For a gadget like this, doesn't it make sense to pare the hardware to a minimum? If you can afford a gadget like this, you can afford to upgrade your peripherals, or at least buy adapters. I'm suprised it doesn't have a floppy drive!
    • I'd guess that it's because many of the embedded applications that people may want to use this computer for still require the "old-fashioned" kind of ports.
    • Fair point. Bin the serial and parallel ports and give it a couple of PC Card slots. Hell, use PC Card Ethernet and modem and you don't need those onboard either...
      • Now that's really redundant. Anything you can do with a PC card, you can do with a USB or Firewire device -- only more easily.

        Ethernet and modem are sort of redundant, as you point out. But as I see it, ethernet is more defensible than the other stuff, 'cause a device like this is pretty useless without networking.

  • God, this would make a cool MP3 player for my living room. If Linux IrDA support is good, maybe I could even use a remote control with it! I better start reading the LIRC [lirc.org] site... Even if it isn't easy, this would make a fun little project.

    And with MAME and Snes9x (plus a couple USB gamepads), I'd have a nice game console, as well. With some of the best games ever made, natch.

    Now, if only the whole thing were cheaper...


  • as stated here [html], usb to ethernet adapters are well supported by linux. buy 'em here [provantage.com]
  • When are we going to see a "full" laptop with this form factor? Perhaps a little larger due to a battery (and skip that CD-rom). Then one connects monitor/goggles and a keyboard (if needed) w/ touchpad, to work on the plane...
  • Sorry if this is a touch OT, just wondering if anyone knows where to get one of these babies in the UK, and if so how much does it cost?

    Thanks!

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