Backed to Business: Sizing up PCs and peripherals

A baseball-sized desktop, a pocket-friendly trackpad, and an expansive portable monitor are all set to ship in the next months.
Written by Ross Rubin, Contributor

In this edition of Backed to Business, we look at a tiny trackpad, a picayune PC, and a massive monitor (at least for toting along).



One strange gap in the Windows peripheral ecosystem versus the Mac is the lack of Bluetooth trackpads. As opposed to Apple's Magic Trackpad, which uses Bluetooth, and a relatively small selection of Bluetooth mice that work across platforms, Bluetooth trackpads are practically nonexistent; the few wireless Windows-compatible trackpads out there tend to use proprietary transceivers. Some drivers allow Windows machines to use the Magic Trackpad, but at least one of these requires a subscription.

The CheerPod, with its 2.5-inch surface, recalls the tiny trackpads that appeared on netbooks. But it fits easily into a pocket and is an on-the-go pointing device triple threat. It can operate on a surface, where it can also be dragged around like a mouse, or in the air, where it can be used with some TV-based devices. Its designers have also thrown in a laser pointer. The Indiegogo project has raised over $360,000 and is expected to ship in September.



Chuwi is best-known for making low-cost tablets and 2-in-1s. It was one of a few companies to launch a mini-laptop on Indiegogo a few months ago, and it has asked: Why should portables get all the phone? The latest tribute to its form-factor-shrinking prowess is the LarkBox, a tiny sawed-off cube of a PC that nonetheless runs Windows 10 (or Linux, of course). Chuwi compares the size of the Larkbox to a baseball, but you have little chance of making millions of dollars if you can hit one 450 feet. On the other hand, baseballs can't output 4K video or feature two USB 3 ports.

Chuwi points out that the Larkbox is smaller than competitors such as the ACEPC AK1. However, you can get Windows in an even more portable package courtesy products such as the Intel Compute Stick. That and the LarkBox do well for applications such as digital signage or driving a projector, but the LarkBox has the edge for tasks like a POS terminal, headless network applications, or other chores that require more computing muscle than compute sticks can muster. The Indiegogo project has raised over $420,000 and is expected to ship in August.



From a tiny desktop PC to a large portable display, one paradox deserves another. The past year has seen several external monitors on crowdfunding platforms vying to capture video-enabled USB-C connections that offer a one-cord expansion of screen real estate. Most of these have been 13-inch or 15-inch devices with the higher-end models offering 4K displays, and at least one company has tacked on two flanked displays for a laptop experience that resembles a trader's terminal or cockpit.

But the Ananta, which is less than 6mm thick (for most of its body) gets it done with one 17.3-inch expanse. The creators claim it's the first such device at that size, although pixel density enthusiasts will bemoan that it operates only at HD resolution and not 4K. The touchscreen monitor's creators will include a magnetic stand that works in portrait or landscape mode. The stand also accommodates a shallow incline that lets the monitor work as a graphics tablet with the included pen that responds to pressure and tilt. There's no integrated battery, though, meaning that it will require an external power source.

As always, remember that crowdfunding campaigns entail the risk that the creators may not be able to fulfill deliverables. Pledge only what you can afford to lose.


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