Silicon Valley has all the best toys. Six of the ten largest technology companies in the world are American. It’s unfair, really. If you are a tech junkie and you live in Asia, it’s going to take quite a while for the fun stuff to filter down to you. Unless you are South Korean ‒ those guys have the coolest tech, the best plastic surgery, and a multi-million dollar K-pop industry ‒ basically, whatever floats your boat. We, on the other hand, had to explain the Raspberry Pi (no, blueberry won’t do) to an Aunty “abroad” and wait for them to visit. Pardon the hyperbole.
Things are better now of course. There are plenty of services that ship your tech to Sri Lanka, and stores here that do stock plenty of electronics (including the Pi). But there’s stuff, and there’s STUFF ‒ tech so new that it’s barely started production yet, but that you still want ASAP. That’s where Kickstarter comes in. Kickstarter is where smaller companies or people with great ideas crowdfund their concepts to create things that are unique and exciting. The internet, better supply chains and improved shipping are democratising tech access across the world. Some of the coolest stuff we have now had their start on Kickstarter. The Pebble smartwatch, Oculus Rift, and 3Doodler all had their beginnings there.
Sri Lankans don’t use or contribute much to crowdfunding campaigns. There are a few who have successfully used crowdfunding to create their projects, but the inherent risk of it scares people off, especially in an economy like ours that’s risk-averse. But the potential rewards of being an early tech adopter are pretty great, especially if it means getting something cheaper and earlier than anyone else.
To assist, and maybe inspire some gear-lust, we’ve decided to trawl through Kickstarter campaigns and feature stuff that’s affordable, ships internationally, and may titillate the taste-buds of our local techie.
Read on to find out where you can put your money where your mouse is.
Ockel Sirius B: A Windows 10 Mini PC
Mini PCs (computers the size of a small box) have become quite an undercover hit over the last year. There’s the Intel NUC, the Chromebox, the HP Stream Mini PC, and the Acer Revo One, to name a few. Mobility is the name of the game, and PC manufacturers are getting themselves seats at the table.
Ockel is a Dutch company created by a team of tech enthusiasts working out of Voorburg. They have designed a pocket PC that is literally the size of your smartphone, called the Sirius B (no relation to Padfoot). The device is 124 mm by 80 mm and weighs a 120g. That’s literally small enough to slip into your trouser pocket on your way out. The PC is powered by Windows 10 and has HDMI, Bluetooth, Wifi, 2 USB ports, a microSD card slot, audio and microphone connections and Flash storage. Pretty good for something the size of an iPhone. The entire thing is passively cooled so it is completely silent.
Its insides are equally impressive. The device runs off an Intel Atom Z3735F processor with Intel HD Graphics, 2GB memory, and 32GB storage. Ockel also has another device, the Sirius B Black Cherry, with pumped up specs that will cost you slightly more.
All you have to do is plug in the device to a power source, connect it to a screen through the HDMI cable, plug in an input device, and you are good to go. The Windows 10 set of applications takes care of all your software needs.
The device is aimed at people who are very mobile, and need to carry their work and their tools around with them, like freelancers, students, travellers, small business owners, people who love Netflix and maybe burlesque dancers.
If you pledge €153, you can get access to the device, but you’ll have to install the OS yourself. Higher amounts will get you the original device with the OS or the souped up Black Cherry version of it. The total cost of the device is the same as a mid-range smartphone and cheaper than a laptop PC, which is a pretty good deal. The main selling point of the device is its mobility. You can carry it from your home to your workplace or while you travel and just plug it in to have access to all your stuff. It’s obviously not going to function like a laptop or a desktop computer, but if most of your stuff is in the cloud, this is pretty cool.
Mini PCs are settling into a solid category of their own, and if it is something that interests you, check out their Kickstarter page. They are close to their €45,000 goal and have just a few days left to go.
The Ockel Sirius B is just the first of the Kickstarter campaigns Roar Tech will be featuring, so stay tuned for more.