micro pc


Here we have the MK 809 II, an Android-based micro PC.

I bought this on sale from Amazon for $40 as a bit of a laugh, but I have been honestly impressed with how well this little thing works.

In that little black box is a 1.6GHz Dual-Core processor running Android 4.2.2 (even though it claims on the box to be running 4.1) with 1GB of RAM, 8GB built in storage and a Micro SD slot for up to 32GB additional storage.  It has Bluetooth, WiFi (though it’s supposedly not that good), LAN support and full 1080p HD output via a male HDMI plug.  It plugs into the home electrical system via Micro USB and it has an additional Micro USB and a full-sized USB for mouse and/or keyboard.

The best part about this thing is that the makers have clearly gone as far as they can to make this thing a proper device in it’s own right.  They’ve added a button (the double down-arrow) to hide the status bar (something that ought to be standard these days) added volume up and down buttons and a sleep button.

The screenshot is running Apex Launcher Pro in it’s Tablet UI mode, which it runs flawlessly.  In fact the overall compatibility of this device is excellent so far.  I’ve only run into a few things it won’t run, and the only technical hurdle I’ve encountered is a lack of multi-touch emulation (because pinch-to-zoom is ubiquitous now).  Netflix, Google Video and YouTube seem to run well, though not flawlessly.  There is occasional slow-down and hanging, but nothing that would make the device unusable.

I have read reports where the WiFi reception is bad, but I’ve had this thing across my living room and still had a strong signal.  Supposedly the placement of the antenna is too close to the CPU and there is a fix for it, but I have yet to have any problem with the WiFi.  But even then, it has built-in LAN support, so if one could find a LAN to USB converter, WiFi would not even be an issue.

The Bluetooth connection seems to work fine and it even used my Logitech K400 wireless Keyboard/Touchpad without any trouble.

Honestly this is quite an impressive device and it isn’t even top of the range for ‘droid Micro PCs.  Obviously this isn’t going to do for someone who wants a proper PC, but I could see this being a good thing for someone who wants an inexpensive, hassle-free computer to watch movies and web-surf on.

On the other hand, there are many tablets with similar or better specs that offer built-in HDMI compatibility.  My Hisense Sero 7 Pro has an HDMI port and overall runs better than the MK 809 II.  On the other hand, I have had to do a little finagaling to make the Hisense tablet work well as a media device, downloading apps to hide the status bar and turn off the tablet screen when it’s outputting to HDMI.  In addition, it only has one micro USB port with is used for power, meaning a limited running time if I need an extension (such as a game pad) plugged in there.  

The only real advantage I could see in a Micro PC like this would be in the extra USB ports, LAN support and PC-oriented modifications.  Ultimately it comes down to function, what the user wants to get out of it.  I can see this kind of device becoming a household item after a few generations and with enough secondary development work.

In fact, it would be interesting to see the development of these sorts of Micro PCs taken even further.  Imagine a Micro PC that, when you were ready to leave for work could be plugged into a variety of battery-powered touch screens to become either a phone or a tablet depending on your need.  The Micro PC forms the main processing unit and one simply attaches it whatever input/output device they require.  One device, always where you need it.  No more tedious transferring files, uploading to Google Drive and then downloading to the PC.  Something like what the makers of Ubuntu have been talking about, only taken one step further.