The Mini-Box M-100, a general-purpose computer built around Via's EPIA Mini-ITX mainboard, is about the size of a dictionary and weighs about 2 pounds. Besides being used as a desktop, it can also be used as "embedded" hardware--housed within a larger machine to perform a specific computing task.
The device is slightly larger and heavier than a CD-ROM drive found on a standard desktop PC, so it may not be the smallest desktop computer on the market. However, it is likely to be the smallest based on a standard mainboard design, as other tiny PCs use specially designed, one-off mainboards.
"You can stack almost 10 Mini-Box M-100s in the space of a single PC tower, each with more integrated features and connectivity than most PCs provide as standard," said Richard Brown, a Via marketing executive.
The tiny $500 PC sports a Via Eden or C-series processor and 256MB of RAM. The standard M-100 ships with 64MB of CompactFlash memory holding the MediaBox.
Buyers have the option of boosting storage capacity by expanding the CompactFlash memory to 128MB, or by adding a 40GB IBM notebook-size hard drive, thus allowing it to run the Windows XP and Windows CE operating systems.
The device features a 14-key customizable keypad on its faceplate and a general purpose input/output (I/O) port, but lacks an optical drive. The M-100 also features a built-in liquid-crystal display, which eliminates the need for a monitor in some applications.
The product was unveiled at the Embedded Systems Conference, which takes place in San Francisco this week.
CNETAsia's Winston Chai reported from Singapore.