The trio founded the Jide Technology Co., Ltd software and hardware startup last year in Beijing, China, with roots back to the Silicon Valley where the three founders, Jeremy Chau, David Ko and Ben Luk have lead or worked on key Google projects such as AdWords, Google Maps, or Google Search. Within a few weeks of campaign, the new company has raised nearly a million dollars in excess of their humble USD 50,000 goal from 18,763 backers for their Remix Mini.
Built around a 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A53 processor, the ellipse-shaped 124mm long and 88mm wide Android PC, only 26mm thick, runs on Remix OS, a custom engineered version of Android Lollipop developed by Jide Technology. The small box packs Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity options and will run under 10 watts, drawing an order of magnitude less power than what most desktop computers would consume today by leveraging existing power efficiencies found in mobile CPU architectures.
Two versions will be offered, one with 1 Gbyte of RAM and 8 Gbyte storage, which could be used as a home media center, to stream and download movies; and a beefed up 2 Gbyte RAM with 16GB storage version to be used as a productivity tool.
Thanks to the Remix OS, users have access to the entire Android app ecosystem (over 1.5 million apps) while taking full advantage of intuitive PC features such as a start menu, a taskbar, multiple window multi-tasking, mouse and keyboard support. For ease of use, a capacitive touch power button on top of the Remix Mini will boot everything in working condition within seconds, like on a tablet but extended with your traditional PC peripherals (any large screen you please among other things).
So, Jide Technology claims to offer a PC-like experience at a very low cost and open to all Android apps, but couldn’t this have been done more cheaply by simply using an HDMI interface and some sort of hypervisor app on a smartphone to bring on-board that PC-feel? We asked the company.
"The purpose of Remix OS and Remix-based products is to do more than bring a PC-feel to smartphones. The idea is that there are certain functionalities and features that are better fit for larger screen devices. As such, Remix OS incorporates such features into a mobile operating system" wrote us Jeff Zhao, international marketing manager at Jide Technology Co., Ltd.
"We don’t see Remix Mini as a replacement for one’s smartphone. However, if you have an old desktop PC or tower PC at home, Remix Mini is a great replacement for that PC. Remix Mini was created on three founding principles: affordability, functionality, and adoptability.
Affordability is self-explanatory. Functionality-wise, we want to give our users a chance to experience the Android app ecosystem in a PC form factor alongside key productivity features such as a start menu, taskbar, multi-window support, full keyboard/mouse support, etc.
Lastly, adoptability is also a key point in that a majority of the world uses Android smartphones and devices. For many people have experienced an Android but not a PC computer, the transition from those devices to Remix Mini will be significantly easier than with a Windows PC or Mac", Zhao continued.
"We’ve unlocked all of the keyboard and mouse shortcuts and functionalities that you’re used to on a traditional PC. The beauty is in the simplicity of Android combined with the multitude of familiar PC functions that allow you to create content in addition to consuming it".
Would the Android-based Remix OS be open source?
Nope is the answer, nor will the hardware be open source, the company will keep the design proprietary for now. But beyond a certain level of success, Zhao admits the company could well consider licensing a hardware platform to OEMs and create revenue from dedicated software applications.
But for the Remix Mini to gain traction, would the company release an SDK?
"Internally, we are considering doing that, but our focus is on developing our software in house first. As soon as we have more users, we will begin opening up SDKs to build a large tablet app ecosystem" told us Zhao, adding "we are currently focused on R&D for our 2nd generation tablet and optimizing the hardware for Remix Mini".
Because prior to launching the Remix Mini, Jide Technology had already launched with success another hardware form factor to make the most of its Remix OS, the Remix 11.6" ultra-tablet.
So what more could Remix Mini offer compared to the Remix ultra-tablet, and what were the lessons learned?
"Making hardware is really hard and we tip our hats off to all the hardware engineers of the world. We felt that in order to further our belief in Android as a productivity device, we wanted to explore additional form factors by which Remix OS can really show off its concept" concluded Zhao.
Check out the Remix Mini on kickstarter.
Visit Jide Technology at www.jide.com/en