Pentaform, a London-based IT company, is developing the Abacus PC, a full-featured Windows 10 computer that fits inside a keyboard. The project recently raised over $400,000 on Kickstarter to craft the concept, which costs just $149 each.
Pentaform’s Abacus is similar to a stick PC, but packs all the components into a sleek keyboard/trackpad, nodding to Sir Clive Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum, a 1980s personal computer that was just as compact and affordable.
The only additional component needed to make it a usable PC is a screen. This mini PC supports 4K resolution at 30 fps (frames per second) when connected via its built-in HDMI port. There is also a VGA connection allowing older monitors to be used, while keeping costs to a minimum. You can even detach the computer part from the left edge of the keyboard for easy connection to a TV, while you use the keyboard and trackpad from a sofa, or it can remain attached to the keyboard when you’re using it within arm’s reach. monitor.
The Abacus PC is a complete solution in that it comes with Windows 10 installed, works with Microsoft Stores, and even supports Linux. Hardware includes an Intel Atom X5-Z8350, 2-8GB of memory, and 16-128GB of storage. The Intel Atom processor can usually only access 2GB of memory, but Pentaform has found a way to extend it to 8GB of capacity. A MicroSD card can also be used to add removable storage.
As you might have guessed, the Intel Atom chip used by Abacus was first released in 2016, so it’s not going to be a fast computer. The focus was on keeping the price to a minimum.
The device supports Bluetooth 4.3 and Wi-Fi 5 802.11 ac for wireless connections. A trackpad is included to the right of the keyboard, and there’s even a built-in speaker.
Rounding out the connectivity there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, Gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0, one USB 3.0 and USB-C to power the Abacus PC. For experimenters and developers, a 40-pin GPIO provides hardware access for custom accessories.
Pentaform’s Abacus PC case is molded from tough, recycled ABS plastic with plans to source the material from ocean waste collectors. The Abacus PC is estimated to only use 31 kilowatts per year if permanently plugged in, so this low cost PC is also an environmentally friendly solution.
As with any crowd-funded product, there is a possibility that production may be delayed or even prevented for some unforeseen reason. Pentaform says the biggest challenge is securing enough semiconductors to meet demand. The Abacus PC was introduced in a Kickstarter campaign last month, and demand was so high that the project was fully funded within 2 hours. The first computers should be delivered in January 2023.