Technology
Android does its best Windows impression in the ultra-cheap Remix Mini desktop PC

editors-choiceOnce upon a time in a land before laptops, towering desktop PCs peppered the landscape, their hulking shells loaded with all manner of cards and drives dependent on support from the operating systems of their day.

The Remix Mini PC shows how the desktop has evolved in an era of mobile hardware and software. The elongated dish-like device, which makes the Mac mini look large in comparison, is bereft of buttons. (It turns on by touching its top surface.). Its rear is only slightly less minimalist¬†— two USB ports, an HDMI connector for a monitor, a microSD slot and headphone port. Something of a surprise is a standard Ethernet connector, which may be welcome for corporate use or anyone who wants to escape the occasional unpredictability of Wi-Fi.

Like Jide Tech’s previous product, the Surface-like Remix Ultratablet, the Remix runs an¬†Android variation called Remix OS. While it includes support for Google Play, the company has done extensive work to make the experience familiar for Windows users. For example, in lieu of home screen shortcuts, there’s a taskbar and apps can run in phone mode, which allows them to be moved around in windows. That said, without a touchscreen like the Remix tablet has, some apps may not deliver fully on their experience.

But the Remix Mini uses only 10 watts of power and certainly isn’t priced like a desktop PC. It’s being offered for only $30 for a version with 1 GB of RAM and $10 for a version with 2 GB. Both should ship in October. The campaign seeks $50,000 by August 29th.

Remix Mini packs a great deal of functionality in a small package. However, like the Mac mini, the cost goes up significantly if you don’t happen to have an HDMI monitor hanging around. That said, at less than $50 shipped for the basic version, it even compares favorably to set-top boxes such as Roku and Apple TV. It may have a more grownup interface than the larger and pricier Mii PC, but it’s a no-brainer as a second device or Chromebox alternative.

Arthur Tufeau is a contributor to Backerjack.