Lichee Console 4A: Mini Laptop with a RISC-V Processor and 7 inch display

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The Sipeed Lichee Console 4A is a compact laptop computer with a 7 inch display and a RISC-V processor. It’s the latest in a line of RISC-V products from Sipeed that are powered by the company’s LM4A compute module, which is also used for the Lichee Pi 4A mini PC and an expanding ecosystem of other devices.

First announced earlier this summer, the Lichee Console 4a mini-laptop is on track to begin shipping soon: Sipeed says it should be available from AliExpress in a few weeks, and potential customers can score a discount by putting down a $10 deposit. The company says prices are expected to start at $299, but I’m not sure if that’s the price with or without the discount.

The laptop is just one of several shells available for the LM4A compute module, and this particular shell looks kind of familiar, because it seems like Sipeed has repurposed an existing design that Chinese PC makers have been using for a few years. But under the hood, the upcoming Lichee Console 4A is a brand new mini-laptop.

Like all members of the Lichee Pi 4A family, the little laptop is powered by an LM4A module, which have a processor, memory, and built-in storage. The processor is an Alibaba TH1520 chip, which features four XuanTie C910 RISC-V processor cores capable of speeds up to 1.85 GHz.

The version of the module used in the mini-laptop also has 16GB of LPDDR4X memory and 128GB of eMMC storage, but Sipeed says there’s also an M.2 slot that you can use to add a faster, higher-capacity SSD.

The Lichee Console 4A has a 7 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel capacitive touch display, a 72-key keyboard with a “RedPoint” stick in the middle, which appears to be a knockoff of Lenovo’s “TrackPoint” pointing stick, and an aluminum alloy case.

Ports include:

  • 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
  • 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A
  • 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A
  • 1 x mini HDMI
  • 1 x microSD card reader
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio jack

There’s also support for WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5, and the system is powered by a 3,000 mAh/7.6V battery. The Lichee Console 4A measures 180 x 140 x 20mm (7.1″ x 5.5″ x 0.8″) and weighs 650 grams (1.4 pounds).

According to Sipeed, it can run Linux-based operating systems including Debian and PolyOS and supports VSCode. In case the “console” in the name wasn’t a giveaway, Sipeed appears to be positioning the little laptop as a devices for developers, hackers, RISC-V enthusiasts, and early adopters though.

RISC-V is still a relatively new architecture, and while there are a growing number of developers porting apps and operating systems to support RISC-V chips, I wouldn’t expect the same level of compatibility or performance as you’d get from similar hardware with an Intel, AMD, or ARM-based processor.

That said, the Lichee Console 4A could be an interesting platform for RISC-V developers looking for a device with a built-in keyboard, screen, and touchpad that can be used to test or even write software. Or you could use it as a dumb terminal for remote access to cloud or local network systems.

Customers who want to reserve a mini-laptop are asked to put down a $10 deposit via PayPal or ¥50 via WeChat, and when the mini-laptop is available for pre-order, customers who paid those deposits will get $20 or ¥100 off the list price, respectively.

This article was first published August 28, 2023 and most recently updated October 23, 2023. 

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