The new MimoPlug is arguably the smallest, most portable, and most energy efficient Linux computer system available anywhere.
I’ve been playing around with small form factor computers for a very long time. The definition of small form factor has changed dramatically over the years and all in one direction – smaller!
Plug computers are a new form factor (based on Marvell’s SheevaPlug) that basically takes a whole PC and breaks it down to be about the size of a big power plug or transformer. There are no moving parts and the plug computer is power and heat efficient. The best thing is that they can be used for just about anything and take up next to no space.
I have to get this out in the open right away. I do not understand why Mimo bundles the plug computer with the Mimo 7″ DisplayLink monitor. The touch screen monitor is a lovely touch, but totally inappropriate for use with Debian. Sure, it’s a touch screen distro and a touch screen monitor, but I have news for you folks – Linux doesn’t work very well as a touch screen environment. Sure, you can touch it, but it is abysmally slow and cumbersome. The onscreen keyboard is almost insulting. It occupies more than half the screen (many times covering where you’re typing) and is slower than molasses (and I know my molasses).
I found myself trying to use all kinds of stuff as a stylus. It was literally impossible to control this machine with the touchscreen.
The way to go is to use a full keyboard to log in, configure, and install whatever touchscreen application you are going to run. Tim Conneally says it best, “call me old fashioned, but how can you base a system on a Linux distro and then make it extra difficult to use the command line?”
Right now, at over $400, the bulk of which is the cost of the bundled monitor, I’d have to say that the Mimo Plug is hardware waiting for an application. The bundled monitor is too small to use this for actual computing – you try writing an article on a 7 inch screen.
While I was able to use the Mimo Plug to browse the web and run cloud applications like Google Apps, I feel that the best use would be to run a custom developed touch software, like a POS or a home theater controller. This is a great platform for someone else to take and turn into a product.