CompuLab Strikes Again; Intense PC Looks Sweet!

 

CompuLab, the company that brought us the Fit-PC series have a special place in my heart. Their little super-small-form-factor PCs hold an attractive quality that’s hard to describe.

I rather impulsively bought a Fit-PC2 even though I really didn’t have any need for it. The little 4″ square box is actually mounted on a VESA bracket on the back of an LCD monitor. It essentially turns that monitor into a net-top.

As cute and appealing as they were, a Fit-PC was never going to be my primary desktop. Sporting an Intel Atom running at 1.1 GHz they just didn’t have the CPU power to fill that role. However, that may be changing. The introduction of their latest offering, Intense PC, might make a viable replacement for my ailing desktop.

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HP Thin Clients Still Excellent Bargain Hosts….

HP T5565 Thin Client Every day I get an email from the HP SMB Outlet sales team. Attached to this email is a spreadsheet listing all of the overstock and refurbished products that they have available. Beyond discounted pricing, I’ve had a good experience buying laptops and desktops from this group over the past few years.

Today’s list includes all the usual suspects, with one notable exception; a better than average selection of thin clients. As I’ve written previously, these little thin clients make great platforms for small embedded systems projects, including; Asterisk, Freeswitch, SqueezeServer, etc.

Consider the HP T5565 pictured to the right. Here’s the current offer:

  • HP t5565 ThinPro (Linux)
  • VIA Nano u3500 @ 1.5GHz
  • VIA ChromotionHD 2.0 video
  • 1GB Flash
  • 1GB DDR3 1333
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 6 USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 DVI ports
  • Analog audio I/O
  • $135

If the VIA Nano processor doesn’t rock your world the T5745 model has an Intel N280 Atom processor for $159, with a full warranty.

I have no connection to the HP SMB Outlet. I just think that these are great little, affordable, techno-playthings.

SkypeKit: The Next Step In Skype Everywhere

Earlier today Skype announced the pending launch of a beta program for an SDK called SkypeKit. SkypeKit is intended to allow hardware developers to embed Skype client functionality into their devices.

SkypeKit seems to be a logical next step after having recently partnered with LG, Samsung and Panasonic to build embedded Skype clients for their newest HDTVs. I mentioned this previously.

There’s a bunch of coverage of the SkypeKit launch available at various places online. Engadget has their say and some nice pics of the Grandstream GXV-3140 Media Phone running Skype. Also a Litl webbook that looks like it’s running Skype with video.

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AskoziaPBX v2.0 Released

You just know that I’m a sucker for embedded Asterisk distributions. It’s true. Combine this with my long time use of m0n0wall and pfsense and you’ll see that I can help but be drawn to AskoziaPBX.

AskoziaPBX combines the web user interface framework from Manuel Kasper’s m0n0wall with Asterisk, in a package that’s intended for use on small format hardware.

By “small form factor” I mean genuine appliances! Not some big hulking server all dressed up in pretty metalwork and just calling itself an appliance, like a WWE refugee in a skirt!

How about a diskless, fanless, low-power consumption, low heat output, box small enough to literally get lost in your desk drawer? Yep, just plug-me-in-take-a-breath-and-I’m-ready-for-ya voipy goodness.

But I digress. Sorry. Can’t help myself. Ah, glorious open source!

Michael Idema the project leader just this afternoon announced the release of the long awaited AskoziaPBX v2.0. There’s a whole lot of new and shiny in this release, so get yourself over there and check it out!.

Inspirational Hardware: The FIT-PC Slim & FIT-PC2

My roots in VoIP are closely intertwined with embedded systems. I really like the idea of small, quiet, lower-power hardware that just runs…and runs…and runs. That’s what drove me to my 2006 article about Astlinux on Soekris hardware and was in part the genesis of this blog.

When I saw the original FIT-PC I thought that it could be an interesting platform for Asterisk. However, with its 400 MHz Geode CPU it wasn’t that much different than the Soekris platform that I was using, so there was little motivation to make the migration.

fit-PC Slim-500

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Fit-PC Slim (pictured above) is now available on sale on Amazon for a mere $159.

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