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Xi3’s palm-sized Z3RO Pro PC ‘marks the end of desktop computing as we know it’

The bulk of attention given to Xi3 at this year’s CES was due to Valve announcing its investment in the company. This diverted the press towards the company’s 7-Series and Piston development concept that might one day be released as the much-anticipated “Steam Box.” Yet those were not the only products the company had to show. Xi3 also revealed the Z3RO Pro, a tiny computer that the company enthusiastically predicts will “end desktop computing as we’ve known it.”

How tiny? Its largest dimension is its length of only 4.8 inches. The device is also 3.6 inches wide and 1.8 inches tall. That’s about the same size as a large digital point-and-shoot camera and is close to being pocketable. And we thought the Chromebox was small. Size aside, this is still a desktop computer.

Xi3 has strangely decided not to name the processor inside the system. Instead the company refers to it as a dual-core 64-bit, x86-based processor running at 1.65 GHz. The Z3RO Pro also includes an integrated graphics processor with 80 graphics cores.

Based on this information, we’re confident the processor is a low-power Fusion APU from AMD. That means overall performance, though adequate, will be well short of a traditional mid-tower desktop.  The system also ships with 4GB of RAM and a solid-state hard drive (size options range from 16GB to 1TB). The computer will operate on about 15 watts of power.

Though small, the system includes a wide range of connectivity. It offers four eSATAp 3.0 ports (which can accept USB or eSATA connections and deliver power to connected devices), as well as HDMI, DisplayPort, and Ethernet. The only notable omission is integrated Wi-Fi.

Pricing for the Z3RO Pro starts at $399. However, there’s a catch: the base system ships with openSUSE Linux, meaning Windows will be an additional charge. The company is now taking pre-orders, but availability is not expected until the second quarter of 2013. 

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