TAIPEI, Taiwan — Is it a tablet, a mini PC or the second coming of the UMPC (ultra mobile PC)? Whatever you call it, the Gole1 is a truly unique and fascinating device. The $99 computer runs both Windows 10 and Android 5.1 on its tiny, 5-inch touch screen while providing a wider array of ports than you'll find in most mobile devices three times its size.
I got a chance to go hands-on with the Gole1 and was impressed with its extreme versatility. The 0.78-inch thick device has four, full-size USB ports, a full-size HDMI out, a microSD card slot for memory expansion and a microUSB port you can use to charge it (it also has a proprietary power port). There's a Gigabit Ethernet port and 802.11ac Wi-Fi to keep you connected at high speeds.
The Gole1's rectangular chassis is made from a very snazzy looking, gold-colored aluminum. In the bottom screen bezel, you'll find a power button, volume rocker and Windows button. The device weighs less than half a pound and feels solid, but more than light enough to carry in one hand or put in a front pocket.
The 5-inch display sports a 1280 x 720-pixel (720p) resolution that gives it a very strong pixel density of 293 ppi, far better than most laptops or tablets. While I usually prefer a Windows 10 desktop to have more real estate than 720p allows, you wouldn't want to make any of the icons or text on the screen even smaller. The 5-point capacitive touch panel seemed quite responsive during our brief hands-on.
On the inside, the Gole1 has an Intel Atom Cherrytrail Z8300 CPU, 2 or 4GB of RAM and 32 or 64GB of eMMC memory. The $99 model comes with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of eMMC storage, while the $129 unit doubles both the RAM and storage memory. We didn't get to benchmark the unit in front of us, but it seemed snappy.
The device's built-in battery delivers only around two hours on a charge. However, because it can get power via microUSB, you can attach the Gole1 to any external battery pack and juice it that way. During our hands-on, we had the system attached to an external battery and it worked flawlessly.
With all of its power and flexibility, the Gole1 could serve any number of different roles for you. It has enough peformance and the necessary HDMI port to make it a set-top box. Becuase it has 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Windows 10, it should also be able to receive Miracast transmissions, enabling you to mirror the display of a larger device onto your home theater via the Gole1. It can also enable Xbox Live streaming or Steam In-Home Streaming so you can play games from your console or more powerful PC on your TV.
The Gole1 can also serve as a regular desktop PC, attaching to a keyboard, mouse and monitor. It almost goes without saying that the Gole1 can be a tablet, due to its built-in touch screen. However, my favorite possible use case for the device involves using it as a mobile server. Just imagine installing the WAMP server software on it and anyone in the area can connect to your Gole1 and surf custom web apps you created. Or picture yourself using the device as a wireless file server to share assets like photos only with those in your immediate vicinity.
At only $99, the Gole1 promises to be one of the best deals in tech. The price is so good that you can buy it now and figure out your use case later. You can purchase the Gole1 from its Indiegogo page, with the first units shipping in the next couple of months. A few early backers can get the 2GB version for just $89.