Smartphones are more powerful than they’ve ever been, but PCs are still able to do more, and do some things better, too. Size advantage has generally meant sacrifices when it comes to computing, but Tango PC wants to change that with its modular dock and computer design that moves space-heavy heat diffusion components out of the main body using technology tricks borrowed from space ships.
“What we have is this breakthrough in thermal transfer technology, ” Tango PC CEO and founder Bhavesh Shah explained. “It’s not actually in the realm of electronics or hardware, it’s actually in the realm of space technology.”
There are no ways to use vents and exhaust fans in space, explained Tango PC CEO and founder Bhavesh Shah in an interview, so instead the space station and shuttles transfer accumulated heat to other conductive surfaces for cooling where they encounter the extremely cold temperatures of space. The Tango PC similarly pushes heat out to the dock, which itself has fans, vents and other cooling equipment.
Tango PC has previously run a crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo where it raised over $300,000, but that was designed to get the product made in a small-scale production run designed for enthusiasts and hobbyists. The new Kickstarter campaign launching this weekend [Update: The Kickstarter campaign for Tango PC is live now] aims to get Tango PC ready for high volume production, and distribution with some of the largest retailers in the world including Best Buy and Amazon. It also introduces a new way to use the Tango, which is with a travel adapter dock that combines remote desktop software with a companion iPad for a totally portable, contained full PC experience.
The Tango PC itself houses the CPU, GPU, SSD, RAM and battery, while the dock offers additional ports, power, a heatsink and fan. In a package about the size of a small hard drive, it has about 10 times the power of a smartphone with a quad core AMD 2GHz processor with integrated GPU, a maximum of 8GB of RAM and with the dock, three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, DisplayPort and 3.5mm audio out/in. The idea is that you can carry the main Tango PC unit with you anywhere, for use in a variety of docks. It’s the ultimate BYOD device, according to Shah, since it means a user can have their PC with them wherever they go, with full access to all licensed software, and with just a small $89 dock (about the size of a Mac mini) required at each new location to get up and running with your own, pocket-sized setup.
In terms of performance, Shah says the Tango PC is on par with last-gen consoles, and can play games like Call of Duty 4 with decent performance. The gaming angle is a way to get consumers interested in this device, which is the initial target market. The idea is to get general users interested so that they seed the device in enterprise and office settings, where its modular portability can really shine.
Retail pricing is going to start at $299 when the device goes on sale this summer for a very basic system, and will range up from there to around $500 for a kit with most of what you need for a full office installation.
Q: You mention Best Buy and consumers but do you see the bigger opportunity in the enterprise market.
A: We wanted to start with consumers because we’re small, but want to replicate the Apple model of consumer first, and enterprise later.
Q: Is there actually any market demand?
A: We did market research to find it did. People were overwhelmingly interested based just on seeing a photos.
Q: What’s the cost of the full system?
A: Starts at $299 depending on specs.
Q: Why not focus on people who need high-power computing power on the go?
A: Niche markets are definitely higher percentage conversions. We will be focusing on individual markets when we go live with the product in stores (hopefully) this summer.
Q: Why not get a $300 laptop?
A: You’d take that and connect it to a huge display anyway to use as a desktop, and it’s not really hands-free in terms of transporting it – Tango is pocketable.