Cardboard PC reviewed

Engadget has an in-depth review of the Recompute Cardboard PC, a desktop computer in a cardboard chassis. It sounds like the concept is better than the execution, and I like the idea of making computers out of materials that either degrade back gracefully into the parts stream, or, failing that, that have a half-life that’s about the same as their duty cycle. That is, I’d like to see computers made out of stuff that decayed in about 10 years, given that we generally only use ’em for a max of five years before they’re cycled out. Of course, the chassis of a computer is one of the least obsolescence-prone components; things like CPUs and video-cards staledate much more quickly than the box you put ’em in. But I applaud the idea in general, and, frankly, it looks pretty awesome:

Fragility and sound fitting seem like natural issues for a computer built out of cardboard, which is why we would’ve thought they would’ve been the first things Recompute would’ve solved when building this thing. Perhaps we’re just abnormally strong, but we find the way the motherboard assembly (which is nicely bolted to some structural material inside) and the power supply seem to be separate from this rear panel of cardboard is just a little disconcerting. Of course, it’s nice that you can actually flip open the whole real panel and get at the internals, but it’s still a bad first impression.

Otherwise we actually find there to be something reassuring by the cardboard build — we wouldn’t do a drop test or anything, but thanks to the sort of padded structure, it seems pretty likely that the machine could live through decent smack against concrete. Also, while there’s the typical fan noise from the computer’s power supply, the sound seems slightly deadened (or at least lowered in pitch) by the enclosure, and happily the air flowing out stays nice and cool.

Recompute cardboard PC in the flesh: it’s real, it boots, it’s made of cardboard