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xPC wants to be your next tablet, desktop and crowdfunding gamble

Jamie Rigg, @jmerigg
January 15, 2014
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We've followed ICE Computer's modular PC design all the way from first concept to prototype to demo unit, and after several years, it's now almost ready for prime time. The company has recently taken to Indiegogo, where it's set a $300,000 crowdfunding goal that'll finally put xPC into production. The idea is xPC will be several devices in one, housing all its main components within a smartphone-sized case: x86 Intel Atom quad-core CPU (Bay Trail), 4GB RAM, 64GB SSD, WiFi, Bluetooth and webcam. Now, to make use of what's inside, you marry it with peripherals such as the xPad 10.1-inch tablet dock (much like ASUS' Padfone range), or the xAdapter dock, which turns the xPC into a mini desktop. The company talks of other accessories like the xTop (an xAdapter with external storage) and xKeyboard to compliment the xPad, but these aren't mentioned in any of the pledge descriptions, leading us to believe they'll be made later.

ICE Computer's pitching the xPC as a long-term investment. Thanks to "open connector architecture," third parties are encouraged to make other docks and peripherals that'll work with this and future generations of xPC. You see, the plan is to merely refresh the base hardware -- the outfit also expects to achieve a fully functional smartphone/xPC "within the next year." For now, though, an xPC with full-fat Windows 8 installed, xAdapter and July shipping estimate is going for the early bird price of $369. It's not too enticing a figure when you're essentially betting on an underdeveloped ecosystem, but at least you'll have something to show for it, unlike a similar concept that's never risen past big promises and pretty renders.

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