I’ve used Via mini-ITX computers in several embedded environments, from digital signage applications to kiosks. But recently, I’ve started to deploy the Mac Mini in those situations with terrific results.
The specs of the Mac Mini have continued to improve, and there have been rumblings that the platform will see a shift to the new Intel chips and maybe (please) better graphics support. But even without these new improvements, the Mac Mini has proven to be very capable in enclosed and embedded systems. Having the ability to run any OS on the hardware from Windows to Linux and Mac OS X makes it one of the most flexible platforms on the market today. The most common comment I receive is “What about Cost?” My response is simply, in most situations, when you factor in all the costs, (including time) the Mac Mini is cheaper. It also has the advantage of a single source warranty from a company that I’ve found to be very responsive to repair issues. Heat is also a factor in most enclosed environments, but Mac OS X has excellent tools for reducing power consumption, resulting in a cooler and greener kiosk installation.
For systems with lower graphical requirements, there are a bunch of new platforms available, the most well know being the Raspberry Pi. The Pi 2 is a compelling new machine to support Kiosk installations and as soon as I’ve finished stress testing the new hardware, I’ll discuss using it in kiosk installations.