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11 Ways to go Mini: Small Form Factor Tech

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For the space-conscious office and on-the-go professionals, small form factor (SFF) computing devices give professionals their space and mobility back. For users working with limited desk space, smaller computers and peripherals give them back some real estate for paperwork or note taking. Professionals on the move don’t want to lug around full-sized peripherals, so small form factor tech makes sense for them. Many types of devices are available in miniaturized form, including whole desktop systems and many peripherals.

Small Form Factor Desktop Barebones

Some IT folks absolutely love building and customizing desktops. For the space-conscious amongst them, nothing beats the size—or rather the lack of it—of barebones SFF systems. They’re typically the most compact desktop systems, smaller than many Mini-ITX cases and motherboards.

  • Intel NUC BOXD54250WYK1 Ultra Compact Form Factor Barebones PC – You get a Core i5-4250U CPU, motherboard, and case measuring 4.59 × 4.41 × 1.36 inches. In fact, it includes a VESA mount so you can mount it behind a monitor. See our Intel NUC barebones PC video overview.
    • Price: $334.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs
  • Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi3-4010 Core i3 Barebones Mini PC – Similar to the Intel NUC, but with the added bonus of being able to output to multiple displays. It also features a Core i3-4010U processor, b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for up to 16 GB of memory. It is slightly smaller than the Intel NUC, measuring in at 4.5 × 4.24 × 1.18 inches.
    • Price: $249.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs
  • Zotac ZBOX ZBOXNANO-AD12-UAMD Barebones Mini PC – For those that prefer AMD systems, this Zotac ZBOX offers a SFF PC that also supports a VESA mount. Powering the PC is an AMD E2-1800 1.7 GHz APU and Radeon 7340 integrated graphics. At 5 × 5 × 1.77 inches, the Zotac ZBOXNANO is slightly bigger than the two Intel systems.
    • Price: $124.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs

PCs on Sticks

PCs on sticks are even smaller than small form factor desktop computers. They pack the functionality of a desktop operating system into a device the size of a large flash drive. They connect to any display with an HDMI port, including TVs, monitors, and projectors. You can use them for digital signage, mobile meeting presentations, and thin client computing.

  • Intel Compute Stick – Features an Intel Atom Z3735F processor running at 1.3 GHz, 2 GB memory, Windows 8.1, and 32 GB of storage. For connectivity, it supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, and HDMI. While the Atom won’t make it a production powerhouse, it dishes out more than enough power for basic e-mail and Internet browsing.
    • Price: $149.99
    • User Reviews: N/A
  • Asus Chromebit – Think Chromebox, but even smaller. Instead of an Atom processor, the Chromebit features an ARM Cortex A17 CPU, which normally powers midrange smartphones. It goes on sale this summer and comes in a variety of color options.
    • Price: $100
    • User Reviews: N/A
      Group_Asus_Chromestick

Projectors

For impromptu presentations and meetings, you don’t always have the luxury of a conference room with a projector and PC. Small form factor and mobile projectors allow you to present your slides and videos anywhere you can get a blank, flat surface and ideal lighting.

  • Dell M115HD Mobile Projector – This mobile projector supports HDMI, VGA, and USB inputs, ensuring that you always have a way to connect your laptop to it. And even if you don’t have a laptop, the projector can store and project content thanks to its 1 GB of built-in storage. With a 1280 × 800 resolution, it can display 720p HD content so your audience doesn’t have to squint.
    • Price: $379.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs
  • ASUS S1 LED Pocket Projector – The Asus S1 features a lower non-HD resolution and brightness, but it also comes in at a much lower price point. What makes it truly shine is that it has a built-in 3-hour battery that can also double as a power bank for other devices.
    • Price: $299.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs
  • AAXA P300 LED Pico Projector – Capable of displaying 720p content thanks to its 1280 × 800 resolution, the AAXA gives professionals the ability to really adjust the screen with an included tripod. Instead of wasting time setting up the image, you can plop down the projector and go. It also supports an optional external battery and can display content without the need for a computer.
    • Price: $399.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs

Input Devices

After miniaturizing the computer and the screen, it’s time to shrink that typing pad we call a keyboard. A full-sized desktop keyboard isn’t optimized for space savings and can be hard to use while away from a desk. Going mini with a lap-sized (or smaller) keyboard allows you to keep the functionality while adding mobility.

  • IOGEAR GKM571R – A tablet-sized combination keyboard and trackball that you can comfortably use with both hands. It also features LED-backlit keys so you don’t need to fumble your key presses while in a dark conference room. The wireless connectivity lets you be a master of the walk and talk.
    • Price: $49.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs
  • VisionTek Candyboard 900319 – If you’re looking for something even smaller, say roughly the size of two smartphones, the Candyboard has you covered. While it lacks backlit keys, it does have a lower price and a trackpad for better mouse accuracy.
    • Price: $37.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs
  • Logitech K360 Wireless Mini Keyboard – Larger than the two options above and lacking mouse-like functionality, the K360 is a more familiar option for those that don’t want to keep a desktop-like experience. Still, the K360 comes in around 20% smaller than a full-sized desktop keyboard and has low-profile chiclet-style keys.
    • Price: $29.99
    • User Reviews: 4/5 Eggs

Many types of devices are available in miniaturized form, including whole desktop systems and many peripherals. The examples above represent some of the most common types, but you can also find small form factor scanners, printers, and more. So what small form factor devices do you use?

Summary
11 Ways to go Mini: Small Form Factor Tech - HardBoiled
Article Name
11 Ways to go Mini: Small Form Factor Tech - HardBoiled
Description
Is your office's technology keeping pace with miniaturization? We check out some small form factor (SFF) tech that will save space throughout your office.
Author
Wallace Chu

Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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