Plug computer

A plug computer is an external device, often configured for use in the home or office as a compact computer. The name is derived from the small configuration of such devices; they are often enclosed in an AC power plug or AC adapter.

Marvell Technology Group's SheevaPlug plug computer in action
CloudPlug, a plug computer developed by CTERA Networks
Seagate Dockstar, a plug computer similar to the SheevaPlug

Plug computers consist of a high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip processor, with several I/O hardware ports (USB ports, Ethernet connectors, etc.). Most versions do not have provisions for connecting a display and are best suited as running media servers, back-up services, or file sharing and remote access functions; thus acting as a bridge between in-home protocols (such as Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) and Server Message Block (SMB)) and cloud-based services. There are, however, plug computer offerings that have analog VGA monitor and/or HDMI connectors, which, along with multiple USB ports, permit the use of a display, keyboard, and mouse, thus making them full-fledged, low-power alternatives to desktop and laptop computers. They typically run any of a number of Linux distributions.

Plug computers typically consume little power and are inexpensive. One manufacturer claims its $119 plug computer draws 1.2 watts and can cost $2 a year to run.[1]


A number of other devices of this type began to appear at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show.

  • On January 6, 2009 CTERA Networks launched a device called CloudPlug that provides online backup at local disk speeds and overlays a file sharing service.[2] The device also transforms any external USB hard drive into a network-attached storage device.[3][4]
  • On January 7, 2009, Cloud Engines unveiled Pogoplug network access server.[5][6][7][8]
  • On January 8, 2009, Axentra announced availability of their HipServ platform.[9]
  • On February 23, 2009, Marvell Technology Group announced its plans to build a mini-industry around plug computers.[10][11]
  • On August 19, 2009, CodeLathe announced availability of their TonidoPlug network access server.[12]
  • On November 13, 2009 QuadAxis launched its plug computing device product line and development platform, featuring the QuadPlug and QuadPC and running QuadMix, a modified Linux.[13]
  • On January 5, 2010, Iomega announced their iConnect network access server.[14]
  • On January 7, 2010 Pbxnsip launched its plug computing device the sipJack running pbxnsip: an IP Communications platform.[15]

ChipPC is another one.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tonidoplug 2 technical specifications". Archived from the original on May 5, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "CTERA Networks Launches, Introduces Cloud Attached Storage" (Press release). Ctera networks. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  3. ^ Nelson, Fritz (January 11, 2009). CTERA at CES: USB as NAS and Cloud Backup. TechWebTV. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  4. ^ Lawson, Stephen (January 6, 2009). "Startup Ctera will offer cloud storage through carriers". Network World. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  5. ^ Clark, Don; Christopher Lawton (January 8, 2009). "Gadgets for Leaner Times". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  6. ^ Needleman, Rafe (January 7, 2009). "Pogoplug puts any hard drive on the Internet". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  7. ^ Lester, Dave (January 12, 2009). "Consumer electronics: Take a peek at geek chic". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  8. ^ Pogoplug brings easy file sharing to your home network. Fast Company. January 7, 2009. Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  9. ^ "Axentra Announces HipServ 2.0 for PlugTop Computing" (PDF) (Press release). Axentra. January 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-25.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Clark, Don (February 23, 2009). "Marvell Bets on Plug Computers". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  11. ^ "Marvell Introduces Plug Computing ─ High-Performance, Low-Power, Exceptionally Small Computer for Managing and Storing Digital Media Assets" (Press release). Marvell Technology Group. February 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  12. ^ "CodeLathe introduces TonidoPlug". CodeLathe. 12 August 2009.
  13. ^ "QuadAxis Launches Plug Computers". QuadAxis. 13 November 2009.
  14. ^ "Iomega's New iConnect Wireless Data Station: Share Files, Manage Torrents, Access Your Data Remotely, Backup Your PC and Mac And Much More for Only $99". Iomega. 5 January 2010.
  15. ^ "pbxnsip Demonstrate Sheeva Plug compatibility". pbxnsip. January 7, 2010. Archived from the original on January 24, 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2010.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Plug computers at Wikimedia Commons