Over the last week, I've been playing with a development board from a chip manufacturer that is a relatively dated product in that it really isn't all that fast, doesn't use any cutting edge technology, but runs Windows XP at an acceptable level. Sure I'm not going to be going to play any games on this machine, but for doing my general work day in and day out, this is an awesome board.
The dev board is about the size of a standard size hard drive, but the board has a ton of space on it and could easily be miniaturized to encompass less than the volume of a laptop drive! It has all the ports you'd expect USB, audio, VGA etc, but it runs at a very low processing speed compared to anything that you'd buy today. What I find really neat about this device is that there is no fan, the power supply is just about non-existent and I can put my hand right on the CPU while the machines been on for days on end. Okay so it's a little warm, but by no means is it burning hot.
Why do I like this little dev box so much? Well right now I have a second PC at home for my daughters to play games (things like Fredie Fish -- nothing that's a demanding application), but the cheap PC that I put together for them is just so noisy and takes up a lot of space. Just imagine if I built a PC around a board like this, plugged in an external CD (unpowered) and ran the USB cable up to the desk next to the keyboard. An ultra compact machine that does everything that I need it to do.
But it gets better. The cost of the entire board and the existing housing of this device probably is clearly less than $100 maybe as close as $50. If someone were to manufacture this in volume, you could probably have a complete PC (keyboard, mouse, CD, HD, motherboard, etc.) that runs XP, Office and other standard apps plus general games (nothing ultra-intensive) for $100 for the entire package, software extra of course :-)
Would you buy one? Line starts after me!