Planet Computers turned heads when it arrived on the scene almost exactly five years ago. The London-based hardware startup was banking on a bit of nostalgia for the days of tactile mobile keyboards, as it attempted to drag the PDA kicking and screaming into the 21st century with the Gemini. 2020’s Astro Slide 5G followed in a similar vein, spurring on a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, in spite of being launched at the beginning of the pandemic.
Today, the firm hit MWC in Barcelona with, somewhat ironically, a non-mobile device. Planet is launching a line of ARM-powered Linux desktop PCs. The new XR line is being pushed as the “first-ever out-of-the-box Linux mini desktop experience,” meaning that the end user has to do little to get the Ubuntu boxes up and running.
“The XR series is Planet’s first foray into the personal computer market,” CEO Janko Mrsic-Flogel says in a release tied to this morning’s news. “By productizing Linux into a mini desktop PC, the XR is another step towards creating a more open and inclusive computing ecosystem.”
The line is launching with two systems – the XR1 and XR2, fittingly. The former features a 4-core processor, coupled with 4GB or RAM and 32GB of storage. The latter gets you eight cores and a Mali-G610 GPU. RAM runs 4GB to 32GB and storage is available from 32 to 256GB (you can get that up to 2TB with add ons).
There isn’t any the same built-in nostalgia present that you’ll find in Planet’s mobile devices. The addition of a color touchscreen is certainly interesting, offering controls and details on system performance.
“Planet has always innovated with device form factors,” says Mrsic-Flogel, “and we are especially excited about the XR’s integrated color touchscreen, which gives Linux users a new level of control and confidence, as well as the perfect platform for developers to access smart Linux appliances.”
Like its predecessor, the XR will be made available via Indiegogo. Those who get in early can pick up the XR1 at £399 ($477) or the XR2 for £499 ($596).