imp tiny PC and streamer lives in your living room, backs up data with a grin

Set-top boxes for the increasingly voracious consumption of media have grown to be near must-haves for the living room. These boxes offer simple ways to access content from Netflix and other similar video-on-demand services. One problem with these systems is their lack of traditional Internet access. They’re already taking up the biggest screen in the home, so why not use it for more? Conversely, other solutions give you the Internet, but are light on the entertainment.

Imp is looking to unify all of these components under one, tiny little roof. The open-source, Ubuntu-based box does triple duty as a fully functional desktop computer, a XBMC-powered media streamer that works with most VOD services, and a private cloud server that can back up mobile devices with the help of an external hard drive. All of these talents allow users to have access to the usual assortment of social media and email with the use of an optional wireless keyboard and mouse for $19, while streaming their content to and from any device and imp with ease. Early birds can pick one up for $129 now before the price eventually shoots up to $199. Imp is looking for $100,000 in funding.

One of imp’s biggest draws is the fact that it’s open-source, allowing compatibility with pretty much any iOS, Android, or Windows device. Adding the kind of versatility platforms like AirPlay provide without the burdensome ecosystem is something people will be interested in. Another tiny desktop PC is the slightly more powerful and customizable is the Tango, but its power comes at a steeper cost. Ultimately, the imp is much more straightforward and user-friendly, therefore that much more attractive for the average consumer.

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Modular Nakatomi Hive is a docking system that connects to whatever you want

Nowhere is our cluttered digital life more evident than in our homes and offices, where wires cross every which way in an effort to keep us connected. Even if our devices have become the digital swiss army knives we’ve always wanted, the ways in which they interact with the world around us have remained clunky at best. Modularity is the bet the team behind the NAKATOMI is making, offering a system in which one dock serves all your needs.

The NAKATOMI PURE is the smartphone version and takes its place atop your home or office desk. It features three USB ports: one to connect to your computer and two to connect to your devices. It also features an ambient light to show whether or not its active, and stylishly facilitates content syncing. The NAKATOMI HIVE is a living room dock that connects to your TV, stereo, and Wi-Fi, allowing for XBMC-like content curation and playback. In addition, the HIVE’s dock is customizable so that you can choose to make it a charging dock or a home monitoring system while you’re away. More docks are expected to be developed, so the HIVE’s uses will continue to evolve.

As interesting as modularity is as a concept, being able to only use one dock at a time limits the NAKATOMI’s utility. And having to change the dock depending on the need is more work than most people care for. Having a few separate devices that each operate independently all the time is better than having to toggle every single time you want a new capability. In any case, the NAKATOMI’s build quality seems superb and would make for a snazzy desk mate. The campaign is looking to get the $99 PURE or the $299 HIVE out to backers by May 2015 by reaching their $100,000 goal.