MiiPC – Power to Crowdfunding
I have been following several projects that has been listed on Kickstarter for crowdfunding. I found both concept great and many of the projects are really cool. But I have until now not signed up for any of them. That is until now, almost as soon as I heard of MiiPC, I signed up with buying one. I was a little bit late to get a device from the first shipment, but I am part of the second shipment. So lucky me! The MiiPC project got their needed funding in less then 24 hours…
What is MiiPC?
MiiPC is one of the first Android driven home PCs. It is an entry level device for children in to the digital world, with the focus on children’s safety. The MiiPC comes with a service that lets parents monitor much time their children are spending online and what content they’re coming across. The service can be seen as a combination of Microsoft’s Family Safety and Apple’s Parental Controls. There is not something groundbreaking new here, MiiPC is a compact personal computing device that lets parents track use from a mobile app. The device runs on Android’s OS and each family member can utilize a separate desktop account.
And why Android? Well, as I see it, there is a bigger chance that children will choose the ease of use that comes with Android over Windows. Lets face it, on what device did the child play Angry Birds for the first time? Most likely on a mobile phone or tablet that was equipped with either iOS or Android. Am I right?
With the parental guidance service that has been developed for MiiPC, parents can see if their child is playing Angry Birds instead of researching a book report, and parents can also specify which apps and websites their children can access. Parents can even log them out remotely and prevent future logins. Parents can also review a history of users’ online use, and each account is personalized and can be controlled in real-time. On launch an iOS and Android app is planned for parental guidance.
The processor is a decent Marvell® New Armada® Dual Core 1.2GHz SoC and the device is equipped with 1GB RAM (option to 2GB shall be provided). The storage is only 4GB Internal Flash (expandable via SD Slot and USB port). The connectivity available is WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), 10/100Mb Ethernet, and Bluetooth® wireless technology (4.0). There is also 2 USB 2.0 Ports, Speaker & Microphone Jack and a HDMI (1080p/720p) output.
The hardware should be powerful and fast enough to do smooth movie and video playback. The MiiPC will also be optimized to provide a true keyboard and mouse experience, something which cannot be said to be the case with today’s Android devices. Android tablets with external keyboards are today a horrible experience!
MiiPC will come with a standard US plug. So if you are outside the US you will need an adapter.
MiiPC will be shipping with Android Jelly Bean 4.2 OS. This version of Android lets you set up the device with multiuser log-in (and be used as a public kiosk for visitors).
The added Miracast Receiver will let you remote wireless display video feeds from Miracase enabled devices (tablets, phones) through MiiPC to the big screen (Monitor or TV). This functionality is similar to Airplay.
The developers has made their own Webkit based browser that provides a desktop-class web browsing experience with Flash support.
The MiiPC will be bundled with productivity software such as KingSoft Office suite, Splashtop2 to connect to other PC or Mac, eReader, Multimedia players… and more.
The hook for parents is the MiiPC companion app for iPhone or Android smartphones, with which they’ll be able to monitor their children’s usage, block access to certain apps and sites if they want to, and set time limitations for others. Instead of filtering out activity by game or movie ratings, the app displays every piece of software installed on the MiiPC and presents an interface letting parents toggle each one on and off.
What caught my attention was that the developers of MiiPC has added a layer to Android, or rather a tweaks to both the UI and base Android OS, optimizing it for large-screen displays of up to 1920×1080 resolution, improved keyboard and mouse support and baking in support for unlimited user accounts.
How does the crowd funding work on this project?
ZeroDesktop Inc. had the goal of reaching $50,000 funding in 50 days. Well, the goal was reached in less than 24 hours. In the of writing the funding stands at 121.000 dollars with 36 days to go.
The early bird deal of $89 for the 300 first to sign up is long gone, but MiiPC is still available and now for $99 with estimated shipping in August.
MiiPC was first available in two colors, white and silver. But as the crowdfunding past $100.000 funders unlocked two more new MiiPC color options – Pretty in Pink and Jet Black. If the funding passes $250.000, an additional USB port will be added for digital camera, external hard drive or memory sticks. And if $500.000 is reached, then double of memory will be added – 2 GB RAM and 8 GB Flash storage. This last upgrade, if not reached, will be made available for $9.99.
How do I plan to use it?
I am not a parent. I guess I go in the geek category that like slick devices. I plan to use my device as a possible replacement of Apple TV (I have already given away my Google TV box from Logitech), for the one reason that it comes with access to an app store. From within Google Play I will be able install multimedia apps like HBO, Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, NRK Urørt and Spotify.