Forgive me if I have vivid flashbacks here, in the corner, to the Commodore 64, my very first computer. Today Pentaform is launching its AbacusBasic, a computer built into a keyboard. It comes with Windows 10 and everything you need to do computer-like things. You still need a monitor, but there are a few solutions to fix that, including a VGA or HDMI output, so you can turn almost any TV or computer screen into a display solution.
The computer doesn’t really tense big muscles, but it doesn’t need them for the target group. This is a typewriter or YouTube watching machine, not a game installer or video editing computer. The AbacusBasic aims to be a functional computer with the least possible impact on the environment. The goal of the AbacusBasic is to make computers accessible and position themselves to make online learning, job search and access to health information available.
The entire computer is about the size of a computer keyboard and even includes the keyboard itself. In an impressive feat of miniaturization, the creators squeezed essentially everything you need for a “computer” into a keyboard and stuck a $150 price tag on it. The computer comes with a quad-core processor with up to 4 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, a set of USB ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI and VGA outputs, a built-in speaker and an integrated trackpad. The computer comes with Windows 10 pre-installed and supposedly supports displays up to 4K resolution. Not bad at all!
“Unlike most technology, the AbacusBasic considers the planet one of its primary beneficiaries,” Pentaform co-founder Joon Sang Lee wrote to me in an email. “In a world where 4.2 billion people still don’t have access to computers, creating more computers isn’t the answer. Making better, more environmentally aware, that is.”
The company claims that the AbacusBasic is designed to last for years of everyday use, explaining that it was also designed from the ground up for end-of-life. The clever design makes it easy to separate the machine into the outer casing and inner hardware. The inner hardware can be reused, reused or recycled, while the outer casing (which is injection molded from a biodegradable polymer) will eventually biodegrade.
For the geeks among you, the computer runs on a 64-bit Quad-Core x86 processor with a single-board architecture. It is powered by a custom Intel Atom x5-Z8350 Cherry TrailQuad-core processor running at 1.44GHz with a 1.84GHz Turbo boost available. The memory is provided by an LPDDR3 64-bit dual channel LPDDR3@1866Mb/s with options ranging from 2 to 8 GB. It has an eMMC module for storage, with options ranging from 16GB-128GB available, and an SD card, with the SD slot supporting up to 512GB SD card.
On the front of the ports, the computer has an HDMI 2.0 port that supports up to 4K@30, a 3.5mm jack with microphone support, a USB 3.0 port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and a gigabit Ethernet port. It also has a USB-C port that supports power delivery, and a radio module that supports 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
The company is opening today for pre-orders via its website.