If your chosen device lacks on-board flash storage, you'll also want to buy a MicroSD card on which to burn your operating system disc image. Suppliers who sell micro PCs typically also stock cards with various OSs preburned on them; but if you want to do it yourself, a tutorial at eLinux.org will walk you through the process.
How we tested
I had difficulty finding benchmark software that behaved consistently across all three platforms. In consultation with the PCWorld Labs crew, I initially planned to use three browser-based benchmarksSunspider, Peacekeeper, and WebVizBenchbut the fact that each device used a different browser made an apples-to-apples-to-apples comparison impossible. Not only that, but having each computer connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi created yet another uncontrollable variable. In the end, I was skeptical enough of the results these tools produced in this particular scenario that I elected not to disclose the results; I just didnt think they proved anything. Although this decision renders my opinion more subjective than usual, Im confident it was the right way to go.
The tiny-PC market is evolving so rapidly that products are in danger of becoming obsolete before they hit virtual retail shelves. FXI Technologies announced its Cotton Candy micro PC just over one year ago, but the company has had to put the device through numerous design changes to keep it competitive.
The result is a product that could appeal to both consumers and business userswhenever it ships as a finished product, that is. As of this writing, the Cotton Candys firmware and operating system are still in beta, and the manufacturer states that the device in its current state is intended only for developer use. Developer units are available for purchase direct from the manufacturer for $199. For this evaluation, FXI sent us a unit with two MicroSD cards containing beta builds of Android Ice Cream Sandwich and Ubuntu Linux, respectively. The manufacturer is in the process of certifying the Cotton Candy with Google, but currently you cannot load apps from the Google Play Store unless you load a user-created Android OS image that's downloadable from the FXI user forums.
For more, read our full review.