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With 1080p video playback and infrared remote-control compatibility, the tiny CuBox is crying out for a place in the living room. Unsurprisingly, the typical use for the $135 box is as a media centre or set-top box.
But the CuBox, which supports various Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Debian, has more tricks up its sleeve – able to function as a thin-client device, software development platform or as part of network-attached storage setup.
The CuBox is no bigger than two inches in any direction and draws no more than three watts of power from its 5V power supply.
Board: Marvell Armada 510 system on a chip.
Processor: 800 MHz ARMv7 core
Video/Audio: HDMI and SPDIF optical audio.
Memory: 1GB 800MHz DDR3
Storage: Micro SD default 2GB.
Connectivity: 10/100/1000 Ethernet. Two high-speed USB host ports. E-SATA, microUSB device port for development uses.
Other: Infrared receiver.
The Overo boards are the chameleons of computing – just as happy controlling a smartphone-sized touchscreen as they are tracking locations via GPS.
The Overo are boards that provide the guts of a computer – such as the CPU and memory – and are then mounted on different expansion boards to change their abilities, allowing them to connect to and control different hardware.
However, don't expect them to do everything a computer can out of the box, as they need to be mounted on expansion boards to add abilities such as hooking up to a display or connecting to Ethernet.
The small size and customisable nature of the hardware has led to Gumstix's use in a wide range of applications – such as helping control mini-satellites and humanoid robots, as well as being clustered into a supercomputer to track botnets online. Ongoing projects are using Gumstixs to develop real-time computer-vision processing in a wearable system and an e-reader with a flexible display.
A strong developer communityprovides wikis and how-tos to bring new users up to speed. Gumstix Overo boards range in feature and price - from the $115 Overo Sand to the $229 Overo FE COM – with expansion boards ranging from $27 to $129.
Gumstix Overo Earth: $149.
Board: Texas Instruments OMAP 3503.
Processor: 600MHz ARM Cortex-A8
Memory: 512MB RAM
Storage: 512MB Flash
Expandability: One 140-pin Gumstix Overo series or custom expansion board. One 27-pin camera board.
Connections: Two 70-pin connectors with 140 signals for I2C, six PWM lines, six A/D and one-wire. UART, SPI, extra MMC lines. Headset, microphone. Backup battery. High-Speed USB host and USB one to go. One 27-pin connector with signals for camera board.
Power: Powered via expansion board - Overo series or custom - connected to dual 70-pin connectors.
Size: 17mm x 58mm x 4.2mm.