Since it's a $199 device, we didn't expect much from it. However, after using it for a couple of days, we are pretty impressed with what we've seen so far.
It's got an Intel Atom Z3735F chip inside it, but Atoms are not the slow processors they used to be. Intel has even created some Atoms for server use, so one needs to look at the model number and not just the 'Atom' name to determine the speed.
It's a real quad-core (not dual-core with HyperThreading), running a 1.33 GHz, burstable up to 1.83 GHz. It has 2 GB memory, which is not much for a normal desktop but works just fine for most Digital Signage use. The built-in graphics that come with the Atom SoC are cannot match nVidia and AMD, but it's still more than good enough for video. We were pretty amazed seeing it play a Full HD 1080p video at less than 40% cpu-usage, even then it throttled down to below 1GHz CPU speed!
The build-quality also seemed solid, it wasn't at all as 'plastic' as we've first imagined. And with Windows 8.1 for Bing, there's no Windows license to pay for either.
So what's the catch? The storage is pretty small, only 32 GB. It's also not a 'real' SSD drive, but something like a SD memory-card soldered on to the mainboard. But even if it's smaller and slower than a normal drive, it will probably suffice for most Digital Signage use-cases.
In short, the only thing we thing is 'wrong' with it is that there doesn't appear to be something wrong - but we're putting a few of these through their paces with some burn-in tests, to see how they work under pressure.
What's most interesting with this though is the combination of the new, fan-less Intel processors and free Windows licenses - this will be a game-changer in the Digital Signage industry. For sure, other manufacturers are going to develop similar devices and bring them to market shortly.
- Very affordable! We're talking Android (enterprise quality) and Google Chromebox territory here
- Very, very small - easy to install and service -> saves money
- Excellent performance for it's price
- Free, but still fully functional Windows license
- No internal fan that draws in dust and needs cleaning from time to time
- Storage too small for some?
- Appears to not have power-on-after-powerloss (...yet? maybe in a later bios version?)
- Still depends to see if it can run reliably over many years 24/7.
- Too good to be true.... (?)
Here the Pico is placed on top of an Intel NUC, which suddenly becomes 'big' - remember, the Pico is about the size of a thick Iphone 5S! :)