Forgive me if I’m over here, in the corner, having vibrant flashbacks to the Commodore 64, my very first computer. Today, Pentaform launches its AbacusBasic, a computer built into a keyboard. It comes with Windows 10 and everything you need to do computer-y things. You still need a monitor, but there are a few solutions for sorting that out, including a VGA or HDMI output, so you can shanghai almost any TV or computer display into a display solution.
The computer doesn’t exactly flex big muscles, but for the target audience, it doesn’t need them. This is a typewriter or YouTube watching machine, not a gaming rig or a video editing computer. Focusing on being a functional computer with the smallest possible environmental impact, the AbacusBasic aims to make computing accessible, positioning itself to help make online learning, job hunting and accessing health information available.
The whole computer is roughly the size of a computer keyboard, and even includes the keyboard itself. In an impressive feat of miniaturization, the makers essentially squeezed everything you need for a “computer” into a keyboard, and stuck a $150 price tag on it. The computer comes with a quad-core processor with up to 4 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage, a set of USB ports, an ethernet port, HDMI and VGA outputs, a built-in speaker and an integrated track pad. The computer comes with Windows 10 pre-installed, and supposedly supports displays with up to 4K resolution. Not bad at all!
“Unlike most technology, the AbacusBasic considers the planet as one of its prime beneficiaries,” wrote co-founder of Pentaform, Joon Sang Lee, in an email to me. “In a world where 4.2 billion people still don’t have access to computers, creating more computers isn’t the answer. Creating better, eco-conscious ones, is.”
The company maintains that the AbacusBasic is designed to last for years with daily use, and explains that it has been designed from the ground up for its end-of-life journey as well. The clever design means that the machine can easily be separated into the outer housing and the inner hardware. The inner hardware can either be repurposed, reused or recycled, while the outer housing (which is injection-molded from a biodegradable polymer) will eventually bio-degrade.
For the nerds among you, the computer runs a 64-bit Quad-Core x86 Processor with a single-board architecture. It’s powered by a customized Intel Atom x5-Z8350 Cherry TrailQuad-core processor running at 1.44 GHz with a 1.84 GHz Turbo boost available. Memory is supplied by an LPDDR3 64-bit dual channel LPDDR3@1866Mb/s with options ranging from 2 to 8 GB. It has an eMMC module for storage, giving options ranging from 16 GB-128 GB available, and μSD card, where the μSD slot supports up to 512 GB μSD card.
On the ports front, the computer has an HDMI 2.0 port supporting up to 4K@30, a 3.5mm jack with mic support, a USB 3.0 port, a couple of USB 2.0 ports and a gigabit ethernet port. It also has a USB-C port that supports power delivery, and a radio module that supports 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.
The company is opening for pre-orders today from its website.