ECS Liva Q2 packs full Windows computer with 4K support in 2.75-inch square

The ECS Liva Q2 is competitive with single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi, but is a complete solution not requiring any DIY knowledge.

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Small form factor (SFF) PCs have been growing in popularity as lower-power parts have become sufficiently powerful for average workloads, such as using a web browser or office productivity software. While SFF PCs like the 2018 Mac Mini offer substantial amounts of power, despite their diminutive size, it is possible for lower-power systems to be even smaller.

The ECS Liva Q2 packs a full Windows computer with 4K display support in a 70 x 70 x 33.4 mm (2.75 x 2.75 x 1.31 inch) box, with your choice of a Pentium Silver N5000, Celeron N4100 or Celeron N4000 CPU, 2 or 4 GB LPDDR4 RAM, 32 or 64 GB eMMC, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, microSD card slot, and 1 USB 2.0 and 3.0 port each. For wireless networking, the Liva Q2 also includes Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1 support.

SEE: IoT security: A guide for IT leaders (Tech Pro Research)

In terms of power, the ECS Liva Q2 is competitive with a variety of single-board computers (SBCs) offering higher power than the latest Raspberry Pi, though there are a few key differentiators with the Liva Q2. First, ECS only officially supports Windows 10. While there is no reason to believe Linux wouldn't work, provided your distribution has a sufficiently new kernel to support the chipset, ARM-powered SBCs support at most Windows 10 IoT. This edition is not particularly well suited to desktop use cases, likewise, most Windows programs are compiled for x86-64 support for Intel and AMD processors.

Additionally, the ECS Liva Q2 includes a case, power supply, and internal storage, making it a complete solution, whereas Raspberry Pi and other SBCs typically require the buyer to supply their own, or are sold as more expensive bundles with those already included. Even with bundles, the buyer is often expected to manually assemble all of the component parts.

Long-term support is also easier with Intel-based devices, like the Liva Q2. OS images for Arm-powered SBCs and other Arm devices rely on complex device trees to ensure the drivers and hardware configuration are performing properly. This is a manual and intensive process, and often leads to SBCs which are launched with out-of-date software or are victims of early and planned obsolescence as manufacturers drop support for older models.

Pricing information is not yet available, but is expected in stores shortly. ECS first showcased the Liva Q2 privately at CES 2019.

For more on SFF PCs, check out TechRepublic's article on "2018 Mac Mini blocks Linux, here are alternative small form factor PCs."

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Image: ECS