Remix Mini is an Android-powered mini-PC in the mobile age

by Haadi Bakar
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Getting instant access to a computer nowadays is as easy as fishing out your smartphone from your pocket or purse.

I remember my first computer was a towering beige box attached to a big CRT monitor, and I was tied to the desk if I wanted to get some work done (or play games as I was only 10 at that time).

While traditional desktop computers still exist today particularly in office cubicles, their designs and functionality have certainly evolved in the consumer market.

It’s not just the personal computer (PC) that’s changed, but the way we use computers today. Because everything we do today revolves around the internet, the devices we use are always connected and free from cable cords.

On average, we have at least a laptop computer and a smartphone, as well as a tablet lying around the house.

We use each devices sparingly, each one for specific tasks: the laptop as our main productivity machine, while the smartphone is for internet on-the-go and the tablet for media consumption.

So who needs those big desktop PCs at home anymore when you have all these devices?

Of course, having a desktop PC is still beneficial if you look at it at an ergonomic standpoint. Sitting at our desks, working on a giant screen, full-sized keyboard and mouse make for a more comfortable and efficient computing experience.

The problem is that getting a desktop machine today is another hefty investment, considering that most of us have already spent a lot of money on a laptop and a smartphone.

Even if the prices have come down over the years, it’s also probably not worth the time and money getting another computer that emulates your existing laptop machine sans portability.

But when you see a $139 mini-desktop PC on sale, it’s really hard to resist.

The latest advancement in mobile computer technology has finally led us to the Remix Mini, the world’s first PC running on Google’s Android operating system.

The Remix Mini connected to a desktop monitor, keyboard and mouse. Image courtesy of Kickstarter.

As its name implies, the Remix Mini is a tiny device that’s slightly larger than a deck of cards. This hockey-puck form factor fits a 64-bit 4-Core Cortex processor, 2GB Ram and 16GB of SSD storage.

This tiny machine is no short of connectivity options either, packing two USB 2.0 ports, an ethernet port, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, a headphone port, an HDMI port and a microSD slot for extra storage.

Developed by a startup called Jide, the Remix Mini is a Kickstarter success story, garneringUS$1.5 million in crowdfunding for the promise of a cheap Android device that would serve as “a full PC”.

While there are other similar devices from the likes of Acer and Apple, this one doesn’t cost around the $400 to $800 price range. I mean, what is $139 anyway?

Of course, paying this amount for “a full PC” means that you’ll need to also wind down your expectations.

Unlike the Acer Revo and the Mac Mini, this is not a Windows or Mac machine. Although the modified Android 5.1 (Lollipop) OS running on the Remix Mini gives a familiar mouse-and-keyboard user experience (it also has its own taskbar and ‘Start’ menu), it’s not as robust as Windows or OS X.

But that doesn’t mean that Android is a terrible OS. Remix OS runs pretty smooth and there are hundreds of apps available from the app store that should serve all your basic needs, including, yes, Microsoft Word.

Also, this device comes with 16GB of storage, so there’s no way you can use this solely as your main PC. But at just $139, its a nice second or backup computer to have at home, in which you can hook it up to either your old flatscreen monitor or HDTV via HDMI (not forgetting the power as the Remix Mini doesn’t run on batteries).

Throw in a wireless keyboard and mouse and you’re all set up for some desktop productivity, be it writing long articles like this one or browsing the web for hours.

A high-end gaming machine this is not, but there are tons of Android games compatible with the Remix Mini which you can now experience on a larger screen.

Another great use of the Remix Mini is media streaming. Hook it up to your HDTV in your living room and you have Netflix and Youtube on your TV.

An overhead view of the Remix Mini setup. Image courtesy of Kickstarter.

In terms of overall performance, the Remix Mini can struggle a little with multiple apps open, as you’d expect from a mobile chipset.

Still, the 64-bit Allwinner processor handles basic tasks smoothly one app at a time. Compared to 32-bit mobile chips, this one is about 30 per cent faster.

It may not be as powerful as a full-fledged PC, but at least it’s more capable than those USB PC sticks.

The Remix Mini also draws in less power than any computers available, clocking in at a mere 10 watts.

The fact that this pebble-shaped plastic computer is extremely portable makes it so easy to carry around in a small bag, giving you the ability to use a desktop computer anytime and anywhere where there is a monitor, keyboard and mouse lying around.

Now that’s the future of desktop computing.

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