The Hive's Amplicity is a pocket-sized modular PC you can rent

The consumer model requires a $99 subscription you can renew every six months, while a more powerful pro model can be purchased outright for $300-$400.
Written by Sean Portnoy, Contributor

Startup firm The Hive is betting on a new vision of how people will buy PCs with the launch of its Amplicity portable computer. The pocket-sized system will be available with a subscription-based option that provides you with more flexibility than outright ownership -- though Amplicity gives you that choice as well.

The basic Amplicity PC for consumers (the orange-clad Amplicity Anywhere) will be offered for $99 with a six-month subscription. At the end of that term, you can renew for another six months, cancel the subscription and return the system, or exchange your version for a new model. While the hardware specs aren't impressive -- Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM -- the company will pre-load it with Adobe's creative software and throw in 1TB of cloud-based storage.

If you do need more power, you have a couple of options. You can choose the Amplicity PC for professionals (in black), which includes an Intel Core M processor, and can be purchased instead of rented for a price that The Hive promises will be between $300 and $400. There are also a range of accessories that can boost performance, such as a workstation chassis that houses discrete graphics cards, hard drives, and the like you can slide the unit into. The Hive will additionally sell or rent out displays for you to use with the Amplicity base PC.

The company claims it will update components inside Amplicity every six months so exchanging your system at the end of each subscription cycle could yield a better-performing one. The Hive should have Amplicity Anywhere available by springtime, with the pro model coming later in the year. Unfortunately, no pricing information has been disclosed yet for any of the additional modules that would make up the Amplicity ecosystem, so it's difficult to determine how affordable (or not) this new computing vision will be.

Take a look at additional images of Amplicity at our sister site CNET, and then let us know in the Talkback section below if you think a subscription-based PC business can work in 2015. Could students and mobile creative types benefit from renting Amplicity instead of buying a new system?

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