By Jason Edelman, Fueled
These days being environmentally friendly is both in vogue and the right thing to do. Facebook and Pinterest are inundated with posts about eco-friendly products and ways to reduce your carbon footprint through a minimalist lifestyle.
SolidRun is contributing to these ideas in a pretty big way with their innovative designs on the idea of an affordable microcomputer with their products CuBox-i and HummingBoard.
This is a powerful Linux single board computer offering users 1 GHz per core with great scalability and proven SoC. It is compatible with the standard ARMv7 CPU power standards, not to mention Linux packages and HardFP. It is a strong computer that complies with industrial and commercial standards as well, meaning that it is definitely high quality. It has two powered USB ports standard and up to 4 available on some models for you to use without requiring an additional a USB hub.
A unique feature of the HummingBoard computer is real time clock support, which allows you to power down whenever and as often as you like. The advanced dual core on this computer supports extra features like mini PCle expansion and LVDS interface which allows you to connect to touch screens. The HummingBoard is comparable to the Raspberry Pi in size and concept but with several improvements, more options, and significantly more speed.
The HummingBoard comes out on the heels of their wildly popular CuBox-i series of minicomputers. At 2” X 2” X 2” the CuBox-i is tiny, affordable, and incredibly versatile, coming pre-set into a unique cube shaped case and pre-loaded with the Android OS. This makes it slightly easier for immediate use straight out of the box, since it doesn’t require any further installations or setups. If Android isn’t your preferred OS, you can run any other OS you prefer through a micro SD card. SolidRun’s CuBox-i can be used across many open source operating systems, including Debian, Arch, and XBMC. This opens up a significant number of possibilities for the device user. Owing to MicroSOM technology from SolidRun, the device comes with ready to use OS images, saving users the need for downloads.
Which is the better choice?
The CuBox-i and the HummingBoard share a number of features, although how many they share can depend on which model of each you are comparing. One difference across all models is that the CuBox runs off a DC Jack, while the HummingBoard runs off a MicroUSB. Neither have any moving parts, which means they don’t require a fan, don’t make noise, require less power, and have a longer lifespan.
The HummingBoard has more available USB ports on its higher end model than the CuBox-i and supports mini PCIe expansion and LVDS interface for connecting to touch screens. It also has a camera interface. On the other hand the CuBox-i has both an InfraRed receiver and transmitter, while the HummingBoard has only a receiver. Both designs are great for surfing the Internet and turning a regular TV into a smart TV, and neither is really recommended for higher end processing needs for programs such as Photoshop.
Deciding between the two is pretty tough with only minimal differences to separate them. The deciding factor really comes down to whether you are interested in tinkering with the open source board or just want to get it and get working on your other projects. SolidRun made a mark with Hummingboard, but they definitely etched their name in stone when they created the CuBox. Either way you go, SolidRun has provided the best options for eco-friendly, minimalist designs that don’t skimp on power or versatility. With Android already available as an OS for these computers it will be interesting to see if SolidRun decides to apply itself to the mobile world and bring interesting new hardware designs to the world of phones.