Planet Computers attracted attention when it came onto the scene almost exactly five years ago. The London-based hardware startup was counting on a bit of nostalgia for the days of tactile mobile keyboards as it tried to drag the PDA kicking and screaming into the 21st century with the Gemini. The 2020 Astro Slide 5G followed suit in a similar vein, sparking a highly successful crowdfunding campaign despite launching at the start of the pandemic.
Today, the company reached MWC in Barcelona with, somewhat ironically, a non-mobile device. Planet is launching a range 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 there’s little for the end user to do to get the Ubuntu boxes up and running.
“The XR series is Planet’s first foray into the PC market,” said CEO Janko Mrsic-Flogel in a press release linked to this morning’s news. “By turning Linux into a mini desktop PC, the XR is another step towards creating a more open and inclusive computing ecosystem.”
The line launches with two systems: the XR1 and XR2, fittingly. The first has a 4-core processor, coupled with 4 GB or RAM and 32 GB of storage. With the latter you get eight cores and a Mali-G610 GPU. RAM runs from 4 GB to 32 GB and storage is available from 32 to 256 GB (you can get that up to 2 TB with add-ons).
There isn’t the same built-in nostalgia as Planet’s mobile devices. The addition of a color touchscreen is certainly interesting, providing controls and details about system performance.
“Planet has always innovated with device form factors,” says Mrsic-Flogel, “and we’re 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 to smart Linux devices.”
Like its predecessor, the XR will be made available through Indiegogo. Those who get in early can buy the XR1 for £399 ($477) or the XR2 for £499 ($596).