A Chinese hardware maker named PIPO has announced a set of Windows-based PCs that cram the machine’s innards inside what is essentially a full-sized keyboard. This design will be familiar to anyone of a certain age, as it was used by the Commodore 64 and countless other personal computers in the pre-PC era.
Since I grew up on Commodore computers and owned many of them, I can quickly rattle off a list of machines I fondly remember that utilized this design: The Commodore VIC-20, 64, 64C, 128, Amiga 500, Amiga 600, and Amiga 1200. Naturally, the original Commodore 64—the Toyota Corolla of personal computers—remains the classic.
I’ve wondered from time-to-time over the years why this kind of design hasn’t persisted, if only in the low-cost part of the PC market. And PIPO—hardly a household name—is clearly taking a chance that it could make sense in the 21st century.
The firm is offering two different designs.
The first is called the KB1 and is the closest to that Commodore 64 design, an all-in-one keyboard-based PC with a trackpad on the right side (sorry, lefties) and Atom-based innards. It will ship with 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB or 64 GB of slow eMMC storage.
As you can see from the very C64-like back of the device, it has 2 USB ports, microSD, HDMI and VGA for video-out, Ethernet, and a combo mic/headphone jack. Unlike the C64, however, this device also comes with a built-in battery, and Wi-Fi capabilities.
The smaller KB2 is a smaller, folding keyboard design for better portability. It comes in white/gold instead of black, lacks the built-in trackpad, and features the same tech options as the KB1.