Step 1: Wife's requirements.
Step 2: Space available.
Step 3: Hardware
- Mainboard: Intel D945GSEJT Half-Height ITX (Intel Atom N270 1.6Ghz, GMA950)
- HDD: 2,5” WD Scorpio Black 120 Gb
- RAM: 2Gb SODIMM Kingston 533 Mhz
- PC Case: Half-height ITX case available here: http://www.cartft.com/catalog/il/1081
- 60W external power supply (12V out)
- 17” used DELL Monitor with DVI connector
- 17” Touchscreen USB Kit (from E-bay, single-touch, resistive)
- Generic PC Microphone
- Wireless adapter
This PC obviously was not going to be a performer. But the main goals here are Internet surfing and low power consumption. Best feature is the fact that the entire PC case is about 3cm thick. As I have full access to the PC case, future upgrades (meaning a more powerful mini-PC) are always possible.
I chose Windows 7 as the operating system. I know, a bit much for such a small processor. But it felt pretty snappy actually. The integrated GMA945 provided basic AERO support. The 2Gb RAM are enough for light tasks.
I needed to fine some way to improve the touch experience on Windows7. Namely I had to enlarge buttons, scrollbars, Icons… and I did but then I realized this Windows desktop is not very friendly for my wife. I wanted some way of having the same user experience as a Windows 7 Phone user gets. And so I discovered Omnimo. It’s a Rainstaller theme and mimics Windows 7 Phone desktop quite well. Best of all, it’s completely customizable. And free. This Kitchen PC was designed with Windows 8 in mind. I really hope that the touchscreen will provide a pleasant experience with the much anticipated OS.
There are still lots of settings to be made (namely wider scrollbars, bigger buttons, larger fonts, custom size icons and so on) but there is time for that. We’ll be monitoring our needs and add or remove features accordingly.
Step 4: Display setup
The touchscreen was centered over the display active area and secured with scotch tape (yes, it’s enough, laptops are full of that). Cables were connected and secured with zip-locks. I opted for a portrait-mode setup because of the space available. The monitor setup was the most painful part for me. The final mounting solution I used required so many “sleep over it” nights that at some point I was ready to give up. I won’t bore you with details, let’s just say you have to think your movements well in advance. Otherwise you risk damaging the monitor, the touchscreen or worse - the wetwall. That is kitchen damage. And that will set any wife on fire. ï
Step 5: Wiring and installation
Step 6: Final touches
Step 7: Wife acceptancy factor
Right now the PC runs silently (in fact we can't hear it at all). It goes to sleep every 15 minutes but a light tap on the display wakes it up. The Omnimo skin is displaying recipe feeds, news and family's calendar. Also one can see the weather forecast, Calculator, Google Maps and a link to my wife's Live mail. Input is done via the onscreen keyboard bundled with Windows 7 and I can actually say it's really easy to write text like that. I even type a bit faster on it.