Computing where there is no power, or intermittent power. Focus on low-wattage equipment.
Kangaroo Desktop PC Quick Review
Chris HechtAdmin2016-06-08 at 6:12 pmPost count: 5
I have been testing a tiny desktop PC made by InFocus (the projector company) that looks like it would be suitable for village translation and literacy work. It is small (158x81x13 mm) and light (210 g; 450 g including the power adapter) and uses the current Intel Atom X5-Z8500 processor found in better Windows tablets along with 2GB LPDDR3 memory and 32GB eMMC SSD drive and includes WiFi (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, TPM 2.0 and a fingerprint reader. It comes with Windows 10 Home 64 bit. Like many tablets, it does not have a fan so dust and dirt should be less of a problem. It is inexpensive at US$100 from either Newegg or Microsoft. It is quite an amazing little package.
The power adapter is 12V 3A so the computer should be easily usable on a solar system. I do not know what the actual power consumption is as I don’t have my measurement tools with me although a review suggested about 8W when streaming video. There is now a version that has the same processor but 4GB memory and 64 GB storage for US$170 but has no operating system.
It is a two-part computer with the main part housing the computer and a ‘dock’ that has various ports. There is currently only one dock available (included with the computer) that has a full-sized HDMI port along with one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0 and a power-in port. The company has said it will introduce more docks in the future. The computer section has an micro-SD card slot (the card fits completely inside), a micro-USB port for charging the built-in battery only (no data connection) and an indicator LED in the shape of a doughnut that runs through the computer and could be used to tie it down. The LED flashes orange as the battery charges and solid blue when the computer is on.
This is a desktop computer so it has no screen. You need to connect it to a screen, keyboard and mouse (USB or Bluetooth) in order for you to work with it. Since many of us have leftover mice and keyboards and quite a number use larger screens than come with tablets or laptops, this is not a major hindrance. Since it uses HDMI, it can be connected to a TV and you would also get sound. Alternatively, it can be connected by a USB cable to an iPad and with an app (OSLinx), you can use the iPad as the keyboard, mouse and screen for it. Also, there is no specific audio output although you can get audio via Bluetooth, USB or through HDMI.
The initial start-up is the standard Windows 10 process and is quite quick. Once the computer was setup, I installed a slate of translation and literacy software including ParaTExt 7.5, FieldWorks BTE 8.2.5, Translators Workplace 5 and a bunch of smaller tools like Bloom, WeSay, Bibledit, etc. They all work well although since I am not a translator, I do not have large data sets to test with. Since it is a desktop, you can configure your keyboard, mouse and screen to your preferences. The computer has no problem driving a Full High Definition (FHD) screen (1920×1080) and can cast to a FHD Miracast device simultaneously. I found the casting to be somewhat unreliable but that may be just my setup. It can get hot when it is working hard but mostly runs cool. I would not use this for video editing but it could do some photo editing and audio editing (remembering there is no audio input or direct output).
You can use the fingerprint reader with Windows Hello for quick login. All you need to do when you get the Lock screen is to place your finger tip on the reader and it will go to the Start screen. You can store a number of fingerprints when you set it up. I am not sure how well this would work in a village setting with all the dust, dirt and mould.
I definitely think this would be a usable computer for low power applications given its constraints.
Processor: Intel Atom x5-Z8500 1.44 GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.24 GHz
Memory: 2GB LPDDR3 1600 MHz
Hard drive size: 32GB eMMC
Operating system: Windows 10 Home, 64-bit
PC type: Desktop
Optical drive: None
Media drive: 3-in-1 card reader (MicroSDSC/MicroSDHC/MicroSDXC)
Audio: Available via Bluetooth, USB, or HDMI output only
Video: Intel HD Graphics with shared graphics memory
Ports: 1 USB 3.0 (via included dock) • 1 USB 2.0 (via included dock) • 1 Micro-USB 2.0 (charging only) • HDMI (via included dock) • Dock connector
Battery: Lithium-ion 81WHr (up to 4 hours)
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
Dimensions: 6.20 x 3.16 x 0.50 in (157.70 x 80.50 x 12.90 mm)
Weight: PC only: 5.80 oz (164.42 g); PC + Dock: 7.40 oz (209.78)
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