Albatron brings electronics to the shower

Computex 2013: Working connectors under water and other game changers

Albatron LogoOne reason SemiAccurate likes Albatron is that these guys think outside the box, and two things they demonstrated at Computex were prime examples. One was a coating that waterproofs electronics, the other was an all-in-one PC with a twist.

By far the most impressive thing in the Albatron booth, and one of the most impressive things in all of Computex in fact, was their waterproofing coating. This yet unnamed process is a spray that can be applied to any electronic device or possibly anything you want to instantly waterproof. Such coatings are not new, you might recall things like epoxy or the new generation of clear but extremely hydrophobic coatings, but Albatron has one upped them all.

Albatron waterproof PCBs

PC under glass under water

The twist that Albatron brings to the table is that these coating will not block electrical contacts, you can spray them on connectors and still use the ports. Even power plugs are not affected, they are waterproofed but not voltage-proofed. You can see this in the board above, it was in a fish tank being sprayed with water while on, and there was another model beside it fully submerged. Both were fully working without problems, and quite possible running cooler than when dry. None of the other similar coatings on the market can make this claim, waterproof and dustproof yes, working contacts no. Better yet if you damage the coating, it is fully repairable too.

What does Albatron use this magic elixir for? In this case waterproofing the components, boards, and devices they build. While it is not quite there yet, I can see waterproofing being an option on all future Albatron products, quite the impressive feature. The company was not talking about how this miracle coating works, but a look in the back closet of their booth showed many more mayonnaise, pimento, and bleach jars than are normally used at a trade show. If anyone wants to give it a try, please post your results with video on our forums. Albatron has a serious winner here.

The next thing shown off may not sound like much but the implications are the interesting part. On the left below you have an 18.5″ cap touch panel AIW PC based on a Sandy Bridge CPU. Other than being an inexpensive white box AIW PC, it isn’t much to write home about. On the right however is a 23.6″ non-touch panel with a fraction of the CPU power, and it is something to write home about.

Albatron Via/Wondermedia AIW PCs

Two AIWs, small and powerful, big and not powerful

No we haven’t gone insane, an AIW powered by a VIA/Wondermedia VNA9 ARM A9 class CPU (WM8950) running at 800MHz is indeed a game changer. Why? Certainly not the 512MB of DRAM or 4GB of flash, the real important bit is that it exists. VIA/Wondermedia chips are very inexpensive and Android is free as in beer and free as in speech, both as long as you can live without the logos and certification.

Albatron is building a digital signage device, smart monitor, or whatever you want to call this class of thing. The parts are all extremely inexpensive, and the result is a white box media PC that costs fractionally more than a monitor. If a monitor vendor wants to combat the 30% yearly price drop, why not add a full Android media player to the mix. It won’t be a gaming powerhouse but the features could come in handy now and then. For an extra $25 on top of your next monitor, why wouldn’t you opt for it?

And that is how Albatron is going to change the game. If Ablatron doesn’t do it, there are countless others that will. This new round of absolutely moronic form factors from Intel like the NUC show that Intel is not competitive while their corrective actions just make things worse. Companies like Albatron can do everything a user needs for a fraction of the cost with none of the drawbacks. This will change the computing landscape, and best of all you can take Albatron’s version in the shower with you.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate