At CES 2017 earlier this month, Intel unveiled something new yet something also familiar, a nearly complete computer board just a little larger than a credit card. Intel wants its new Compute Card to be the dockable brain of future devices, including smart appliances. NexDock, the people behind a more or less successful crowdfunded device of the same name, is taking that brain and putting it inside its next ambitious project, which, unsurprisingly, is another NexDock.
The NexDock tried to give fulfillment to Microsoft’s promise of Continuum, providing a portable desktop that Windows 10 Mobile devices can connect to, transforming phone into laptop. It is really nothing but a “dumb” laptop, with display, Bluetooth keyboard with trackpad, battery, speakers, and a few ports. In short, it’s a laptop that needs a brain, and NexDock wants the Intel Compute Card to be that brain.
The idea of a computer on a single board is nothing new really, but unlike something like Raspberry Pi, the Compute Card comes in a more or less ready to use and polished case that you simply slip into a port, specially designed for the card of course, and you’re good to go. The Compute Card naturally has the processor and the GPU but also combines RAM, storage, and even Wi-Fi. All it really needs are input and output peripherals, which NexDock is only too happy to provide.
At least that’s the theory. Execution, however, will be a different story. Although promising and very successfully funded, NexDock’s fulfillment was beset by tragedy (a fire at a production plant) and delays. Backers have also complained of less than stellar quality in the final product. The NexDock itself wasn’t exactly that high on the spec list, even with its already bare hardware. The 14-inch screen, in particular, was particularly dismal at an HD resolution. Hardware issues here and there also marred what should have been an otherwise successful run.
NexDock, however, is now official an Intel “regional partner” for the Compute Card, which raises the stakes even higher. NexDock hasn’t yet divulged any of its hardware plans, but the mention of an HD screen is already worrying. Still, it has a lot of time to think about its future, as it doesn’t plan to launch its new crowdfunding campaign until the Compute Card itself launches around mid-2017.