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Computers

The Hive wants to sell (or lease) you a modular pocket PC

Start with an iPhone-sized base system and add extras from there.

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Computers for most people are getting smaller, but at the same time creative professionals (and talented amateurs) require ever more storage space and graphics power for storing, editing and rendering high-definition content.

A new PC venture named The Hive aims to fulfill both goals with a modular computer system called Amplicity. The Hive is a sister company to tablet-maker Fuhu, both of which were founded by John Hui, who previously founded eMachines and at one time owned the Packard Bell brand.

Amplicity starts with a very slim, small PC -- the company calls it a "pocket PC" -- and grows from there. One version, called Amplicity by The Hive, is built around an Intel Core M processor inside a tiny chassis about the size of a phablet. A second version, called Amplicity Anywhere, is aimed at what the company calls "the aspiring content creator," and uses an Intel Atom CPU.

The other big difference, besides a slightly thicker design for the prosumer version, is that you'll buy the Core M Amplicity PC outright, starting at around $300 to $400, while the Atom version is designed to be leased, starting at $99 in the US for a six-month term, after which you can return it, swap it for a new model, or change the configuration and accessories. (UK and Australian details were not announced.)

Both versions will be paired with a wide variety of accessories, starting with module cubes that the base units slide into, which can also contain additional hard drives, graphics cards, and even more powerful CPUs, although exact tech specs on the components and how everything will work together is still unclear.

Monitors, software packages, including creative software from Adobe, and even a motorized standing desk will also be available to buy or lease.

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One of the modular cases that can hold and connect Amplicity hardware. Dan Ackerman/CNET

In person, the actual brushed metal Amplicity base unit looks impressive -- it's being manufactured by Foxconn -- and usage concepts shown off include everything from video editing to multi-monitor PC gaming. But, without price and ecosystem details on how the modular components will work, it's hard to say just how successful this inventive concept will be (to say nothing of actually benchmarking and testing the hardware).

Amplicity Anywhere is set to launch in the spring of 2015, with the Amplicity by The Hive line planned for the second half of the year.

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