New generation internet cafe: bring your own computer

Recently there are some emerging new ideas of small USB-drive size personal computers that are powered by Linux or Android. It may not be as powerful as a computer now, or even a smartphone. But this is the beginning of a new era, the era where we literally bring our lives (and data) with us to work and play.

Today in internet cafe, we always face the danger of privacy. More often than not, the computers in the internet cafe are not well protected against people from trying to steal our information. Be it password or browsing history.

Imagine a day where internet cafe provides only monitor (with built-in powerful graphics engine), keyboard and mouse. All you need to do is to plug in your USB-drive sized personal computer into the monitor and you can start working with all your personal data and whatever cookies you may have stored. You don’t have to remember to log out of your device because you’ll take everything with you when you leave the cafe. (And of course there’re still ways to steal your password through keystroke with some external devices, but let’s just forget about that for now. :P)

This could be applied to our office workstation too. No need to bring heavy laptops to and fro. Just a tiny personal computer, internet access and cloud storage.

People (such as Motorola) have also thought about using our phone as our personal computer. But the main problem is, because we have so many different phone manufacturers implementing different peripherals, it is still better to come up with a common device such as USB, for this new portable personal computer.

It’ll be very difficult for internet cafe owners to try to provide different peripherals for different phones. If so, I can foresee a shop with many sections and each section for different phone manufacturer.

One major disadvantage of many proposed USB personal computer is the graphics card. Due to its size, manufacturers cannot squeeze in high performance graphics card. So playing games with the device may not be ideal. Then why not put the graphics card in an external device such as the monitor? When we plug in our USB PC, it will automatically switch to this high-end graphics card and we can start shooting our enemies at the top of a high building.

Just some thought. And I really believe this will happen some day.


  • jonny

    August 12, 2012

    I agree with you but then I’m curious why you’d go with USB rather than MicroSDCards?

    Also, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on why it’s very, very hard to find a USB drive that has (hard) read/write protect switch and/or LED that shows drive is being read or written to.

    • Andrews Ang

      August 13, 2012

      Hey Jonny,
      I believe you’re referring to reading/writing of data with SD cards, while I’m actually referring to a USB device that acts like our computer, only that it is as small as a thumb drive. It’s still a very primitive idea of a small computer, but I am thinking in the direction that a USB can also be used to power up the small computer. A memory (SD) card is still required for storing data and the operating system (the software part of it). The USB is part of the hardware that provides a way to connect to the outside world, such as the monitor.

      There is a very nice device now available call the Raspberry PI. It’s a very interesting device that provides a prototype for future portable computers. It uses the micro USB to power up the device, and HDMI cable to connect to a monitor.

      My idea is to combine those two by using only the USB. Very similar to our USB Wifi device now.

      As for the second question: I think it is the objective of using a USB drive that makes it difficult to find a USD drive that provides hard read/write switch. Usually when consumers buy USB drive, we often use it as an external storage to save our data. It is just how the manufacturers make them. I know there’re manufacturer that produces read only USB drive for software vendors, such as Autodesk and Apple, as a replacement for DVD. These drives are set to read only before they are ship to customers.

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