The World’s Smallest Computer Proves That Bigger Isn’t Always Better

This tiny computer is more powerful than you think.

More and more people own a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop, and possibly a streaming device like a Roku or an Apple TV. While all of these devices are essentially capable of doing the same thing, it’s much more convenient to have separate gadgets for different situations. Nobody wants to lug around a desktop to a coffee shop or type their dissertation on a smartphone. Instead, we like to use the appropriate tool to do the job right. But what if there was one type of computer that could replace most of these devices? Doesn’t that make much more sense? One Israeli company thinks so.

SolidRun, a computer company founded by lifelong tech-enthusiasts Kossay Omary and Rabeeh Khoury, detected a trend in computing that nobody was talking about: the full integration of computers in our lives. They noticed that people were using computers for everything and realized the future would call for smaller, energy-efficient, and low-cost systems. While most technology companies were working on ways to build bigger and more expensive electronics, SolidRun was doing the exact opposite and developing the world’s smallest and most affordable computer.

Dubbed the CuBox-i, SolidRun markets their minicomputer as “the ultimate in sexy.” And with its sleek and elegant design that easily blends into any décor, it’s hard to argue with that statement. One look at the CuBox-i and it becomes clear that a lot of time went into designing the slightly rounded edges, jam-packed ports panel, and subtle logo. But looks aren’t what this machine is all about; it also has power. And lots of it when you consider it measures only 2” x 2” x 2”.

The CuBox-i is the epitome of simplicity, and most people would think there was no way this little box could possibly replace all those gadgets we have laying around our house. But the CuBox-i has the industry’s best Price Power Performance Ratio (P3R) and enough connectivity options to keep up with whatever you want to do. Whether you want to turn your TV into the ultimate media center, create a web or mail server, or simply use it as a desktop PC, the CuBox-i is more than capable of doing it all.

Key Features of the CuBox-i:

  • Up to quad i.MX6 Cortex A9 ARM processors, up to 1.2GHz each
  • ARMv7 instruction set, including NEON extension support
  • Up to 2GB DDR-3 RAM
  • HDMI 1080p output
  • Multi format hardware video decoding and encoding engine
  • Integrated video image processing unit
  • OpenGL|ES 2.0 GPU with OpenCL** 1.1 embedded profile support
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet*
  • Two powered USB-2.0 host interfaces.
  • eSata 3Gbps**
  • Infra-red receiver and transmitter
  • Optical audio SPDIF out
  • microSD for operating system storage
  • microUSB (device) for development **
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth**
  • Built-in Real-time Clock with battery backup**

* Gigabit Ethernet on higher end models only

** Supported on higher end models only

Despite its low price point starting at only $45, SolidRun claims CuBox-i devices are “made of the highest quality and are among the most stable, reliable, and easy to use in the market.” The company also strongly believes in using an open source software platform and maintains a learning center and wiki page on their website that encourages people to contribute. Work has already been completed for porting many popular software packages including XBMC, Android, and Linux. Simply put, this minicomputer can do most of the things you need from your current gadgets at a fraction of the cost.

“We want to enable everybody to do whatever their imagination drives them to do with our mini-computers. Our team had to work very hard to pack in such a rich and high-end set of features and still keep the cost at levels that make this product a no-brainer choice for everyday projects. The i.MX6 System-on-Chip series provides the perfect scalability for balancing power, performance and price.

 CEO of SolidRun

Computers are a major part of all our lives and there is no way to get around that. And because technology advances so rapidly, consumers are often forced to throw away old electronics in favor of an upgrade. As our planet marches toward an era where future generations will be even more dependent on computers, it has never been more important to figure out a way to limit the number of devices we rely on. By using smaller, energy-efficient systems like the CuBox-i, we are not only saving money, but we are also able to combine many of the gadgets we use into one convenient device.

Do you mind having to rely on so many gadgets? Or do you think the CuBox-i can replace many of the devices you own?

Join the discussion 78 Comments

  • Tim Swanson says:

    “Made of the highest quality”

    USB 2.0…

    • Two Replies says:

      “Newer = higher quality”
      HA WONG. Nice immature mindset.

    • 1111a says:

      usb 3.0 is going to take literal decades for it to start becoming the new standard

      • i dont know about that one, most decent computers nowadays have them standard. my computer i got last year has 6 usb 3.0 slots (its a desktop)

        • MasterD4 says:

          Probably because a lot of older usb devices (i.e. printers) don’t support usb 3.0

        • fly1np4nda says:

          Having slots/jacks doesn’t necessarily mean it becomes mainstream/standard

          Firewire for example.. existed for years in Macs but nothing really supported it except for some camrecorders and external hdds.

          DisplayPort nowadays are the same way. I see manufacturers pump out far more and affordable DVI/HDMI monitors than DisplayPort

        • john Mcgeey says:

          Hell even chromebooks will give you at least one 3.0 slot. The problem is cost I would imagine.

      • zach says:

        Considering smartphones are now using usb 3.0 as standard… your comment is invalid. By this time next year I doubt to see boards made with anything less than 4 3.0 ports.

      • Eddie Teets says:

        yeah maybe if you wanted to do something like PoU like PoE. but it’s fully functional and works very very well.

      • Not true but in this case it’s more to do with pricing I bet.

      • brucewalters says:

        I hope that was a joke.

      • Brad S says:

        My motherboard that I bought for my build over 2 years ago has 4 USB 3.0 ports. Most newer motherboards over $100 have at least 1 or 2 3.0 ports available.

      • Sprawl says:

        I find it all over the place and it is backwards compatible, so there is no reason we won’t keep seeing it more and more. I love the speeds of USB 3, especially for HD video transfers.

      • theraacer says:

        Usb 3.0 can take as long as it wants to become the standard, with many devices still not capable of using the potential in 2.0 I don’t see the issue. As long as 3.0 devices work in 2.0 ports and 2.0 devices work in 3.0 ports then It will be fine, I honestly still have a computer with 1.1 and I cant notice the difference outside of data transfer to a hard drive.

      • Worcester says:

        Everything that needs USB 3.0 is already headed that way. Flash drives, cell phones, external HDD digital camera and recorders, etc. I doubt well see printers become USB 3.0 it isn’t necessary they don’t need the extra throughput in most cases. Though manufacturers might start including it for marketing purposes.

        Some of you are going to holler about printers and USB 3.0 so I’ll explain a bit. Most print jobs that take longer to print (think photos and large files) it is the printers buffer size that causes the delay not communications speed.

    • ASUS Chromebox is not much bigger, and would smoke this thing in performance. Not to mention, the Google netflix plugin.

  • Jim_Clerk says:

    Oohhh…my iMac doesn’t have such a small box…weightless & thinner matters…

  • Ok, So its an amazing micro computer, but how does this replace a laptop or a smart phone? You still need an external screen, and some form of interface. If they make a wireless way of accomplishing these things in a small smartphone sized pacakge okay, ill bite. I wouldnt mind carrying a 2x2x2 block in my bag with a few sd cards with different OSes on them.

  • Matthew O'Connor says:

    Oh wow. So this can build a nice XBMC media server, at a cheaper cost then a raspberry. awesome!

  • Eric Dye says:

    Unfortunately no, I don’t think it will replace any of my gadgets.

    It won’t replace my Xbox/ps3 for games
    It won’t replace my desktop for graphics design and photo editing
    It won’t replace my kindle that I read books on
    It won’t replace my smartphone for mobile communication

    I think it is much more likely to be something that could complement what I have though. I’ve considered getting a Roku or some type of media streamer in the future, this could be an alternative to that, but it doesn’t have anything that will make me replace my more dedicated devices.

    • Eddie Teets says:

      >has a desktop capable of running high-end graphics/photo software
      >still plays console
      >Mac detected

    • eric says:

      On the flipside, my surface pro actually has replaced nearly all those devices in my life; I still use my phone as a modem / communication device. Sure, I won’t be playing uncharted 4 any time soon, but I do have a backlog of steam games to keep me happy. I enable big picture mode, pair a ps4 controller, plug it into the tv, and boom: I might as well have a console

  • Jerry Stevens says:

    I would love to see one of these in a server casing so I can have 4 SATA ports and make a mean and lean NAS, especially since I’ll be living on a bus conversion within the year, so power will be something I need to watch. I don’t care what the CPU is, just as long as it can run a proxy and local cloud storage and other low intensive things (wiki, chat, etc.). Don’t need a GUI, just need something that works.

  • As Loq says:

    If they would have inluded a GPS chip, this would have been the next great thing, able to hook it up to the car and have dedicated computer on stock car radio screen with rca inputs. But once again, technology missed the boat….

    • so fortune says:

      Haha. He said RCA.

      • Eddie Teets says:

        unless car audio runs hdmi(video would be useless anyway) then rca is a perfectly viable option… seeing as stereo decks usually have antenna, power harness, rca input (newer decks), and an external input harness, rca is the only option .-.

  • Mike Teehan says:

    They should make a variant with two Ethernet ports. It would make a great firewall appliance.

  • If this had an x86 processor I’d buy 2 right now.

  • Nach0z says:

    that’s not a particularly impressive amount of power for the cost, and all it does is shove itself in the exact same niche that arduino, RasPi, beagleboard, PCDuino, and a dozen other brands already inhabit, and I don’t see any benefits to this thing, unless you’ve got exactly fifteen cubic inches of your house that you’re dedicating to filling with as much power as possible.

  • SalmonGod says:

    I think they’re going in the opposite direction from what’s most practical here. The strive for an omni-device that can do everything is stupid. All we end up with a thing that is intended to be capable of everything, but only at a mediocre level. Specialization is good. It allows us to push our capabilities farther.

    What we need is integration of our devices to be smoother. Right now we’re constantly juggling data synchronization and compatibility issues between multiple operating systems and devices that rarely communicate on any deeper level than file swapping.

    But imagine if my smart phone is my core computing device, which I then dock into other computing devices more fitted for tasks requiring different screen formats, ergonomics, and processing powers. When I want to do graphics work or some gaming, I put my phone in my desktop rig. The phone is already powered on, and has the software I’m planning to use installed on the operating system, so it’s a seamless transition. All the desktop rig provides is the necessary processing power and larger storage capacity that holds on to your larger files that aren’t necessary to lug around with you everywhere.

  • 2 gens from now this thing will be amazing, but for now I am just rather intrigued. Although, I would really need to get my hands it before i judge it.

  • I don’t see where this would be able to replace more than one of my gadgets at once. I like the affordability. The specs are bit better than the raspberry pi so would work well. But I have so many devices because I need to do so many different things, frequently several at once or in different places and don’t want to connect and disconnect all those cables. This thing would excel at being a roku replacement because of it’s openness but will we be able to get the software interface as smooth as a specialized device?

  • apexs2 says:

    Seems to be like it would be a great media center box – If all your are going to be doing is steaming media (netflix, amazon, hulu) then you can replace bulkier laptop with this – smaller foot print.

  • That Mark Dude says:

    It’s almost as capable as oDroid…. leading? Not quite.

  • Kevin Rowe says:

    I’d bet for $90 you could easily find a second hand 1st or 2nd gen smartphone. Ya the CPU may be slower but you get touchscreen, speakers, 8gb onboard, wifi, bluetooth. GPS, etc.. That stuff is better than a faster CPU. If I wanted to do any real processing I’d use a desktop anyway. This is essentially just a beefy Raspberry Pi in a box. My Pi sits collecting dust because they are next to useless at any speed. If you want to have fun playing with embedded systems get a Arduino or a BeagleBone.

  • Eddie Teets says:

    honestly you guys? it’s not going to replace EVERYTHING! right now it’s meant for small hosted servers and you could probably run a few nice games on it. it’s meant to be a portable data storage that can act as a full-blown machine if needed. I’d rather carry around a small cube and some cords instead of a 17.3 inch laptop around… business-wise, you could take it to meeting, run servers, run desktops, host virtuals, etc. it seems very handy to combine a docking station capability and a fully-functional machine together without the massive case…

  • anonao says:

    miniaturisation and low cost are the future, this is great for developing countries

  • BenjaminS says:

    I already own a cubox-i by solidrun, and i think the Hardware is great. I got openelec working in a raspberrypi and a cubox-and i will replace the rpi by a hummingboard – caus it got the same size and is 2x faster.

  • Carley says:

    Um…. If you need to install the OS on a microSD, then you need another computer to put the OS on to the SD…. It isn’t cellular and needs to be plugged in, and you need a monitor to go along with it, so all those other devices you own are still needed. Without a hard drive you still need to install memory cards for everything, and memory is in high demand these days. I would never even consider buying it even if it was $45, but I could see it being good for young kids who don’t need to be doing much on their computers. In this day in age, I can have an iPad/iPod touch that comes with an OS built in, and tons of internal and cloud storage and can do everything a computer can and more. I can take it everywhere I go without even noticing its on me, and have whatever file I need up on command. We already have chromecast for $30 (and a heck of a lot smaller) that can make any TV a smart TV, so I see no use whatsoever for this device. This would have been totally amazing 5 years ago, but now it’s already obsolete.

  • Matthew says:

    They say it would be super portable which ok the computer itself is ultra portable I get it. But you would also need to bring a giant ass monitor with you as well to use it. So it’s like what’s the point? Unless you can plug it into a tablet or something that would be your monitor but then why not just use the OS that your tablet has. Again so what’s the point. Cool conept but it doesn’t really to seem to have that much of a use.

  • Sam says:

    DB15 video (or a cheap unobtrusive adapter) would be great in enterprise environments since countless monitors still in production floors are DB15 only, no DVI let alone HDMI, Display Port, RCA/Composite, etc.

    PoE would also be an interesting (though not deal breaking per say) for enterprise production floor purposes. Being able to use something like this as a ThinClient/ZeroClient and/or VoIP cost-effective replacement would be really interesting to see. What if remote management/administration features could be added like KVM over IP?

    Dual onboard GbE/LAN would also be interesting for FreeNAS or PFSense projects.

  • rollinshultz says:

    Since the real storage is external, it isn’t much more than a terminal. I would rather have a server built into a Square D panel next to my power panel in the basement or wherever your panel is. Then use true terminals to access wirelessly and /or over cat 6. Get multiple processors, graphics cards and many terrabytes of storage with maximum airflow and cooling options. Run multiple VMs etc. power enough for many years and many users.

  • J-Kutta says:

    this is great,Moors Law in full effect….eventually,our computers will fit on our cufflinks,and if u dont wear them,than on a ring..etc….I truly admire and respect what this company has done…however,without the fan,i still dont understand how it will replace the ‘everything’ ..96% of users leave their machines on almost all day….still Bravo….F***ing Bravo-
    the future is right aroung the corner….im guessing….guessing mind you….by 2020.
    Mad respect-

  • William says:

    ARM based processors have their limits. So does that mean that it would have to be ARM based operating system? If so how do they plan to bridge the gap between full integration in the workplace and home use for the common user? It seems like they forgot that the average user wants to be able to have the same files and programs from work and bring them home without ever moving a device. A lot of my customers use AutoCAD and the like software. Are they prepared to say that their device is only for the very basic consumer who ” trolls” the internet?

  • phearless says:

    Dat overheating……
    Dat lack-of-upgradability…..
    Dem repair bills……

  • phearless says:

    “One kind of device to replace them all”

    HD monitors and full-size keyboards aren’t exactly pocket-sized.
    And this “minicomputer” is about the size of a rubik’s cube…
    So, no…. it won’t “replace anything. It’s just another gimmick item that will end up being more of a pain in the ass than it’s worth (ie: the other issues noted in my previous post).

  • if company is planing to modular screen and other special items that could be pluged to it easier than putting bunch of wires or
    have modules connect wirelessly could make this product a worth. else good concept but not a good product in the time when tablets can do almost every thing .

  • Magnus says:

    beats my 120 dollar work computer.

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