So from the specs it "supports up to 3 USB 2.0 ports"...in real life, there's 1 onboard, plus 2 on an I/O extender board that has "one USB board-to-board connector": looks like this is off on the one onboard, and they're counting the mini USB ports.
Audio and power button are on the extender board.
Oh, it has 2 COM ports ("one for RX/TX only").
So let's see:
2x full USB 2.0 ports
2x Mini USB ports
1x COM port
1x COM port, RX/TX only
I2C & GPIO pin header.
No SD card/SATA port, AFAICT.
The wireless module is an Atheros 9271 b/g/n USB module.
"Supported" OSs are Android and Debian.
I'm getting the impression that a beaglebone black is the thing to compare it to.
And that has half the eMMC, half the ram, half the USB ports, one serial header, optional JTAG; one HDMI port, no dedicated audio; 6 LEDs; a microSD slot; a 1 GHz A8; and costs less than half the price ($45).
Looks like the Pi and the Beaglebone Black have lots more pins available.
Really, it seems they're aiming at people who need RAM, USB, serial, and audio jacks...but not removable or expandable storage.
And that is the big deal breaker, in my book.
It also seems to be underpowered and overpriced.
I suspect that lacking an SD/microSD slot will damage its viability as a prototyping platform, since it eliminates any products where those are desired.
Look at the hugely vibrant arduino community - cheap ubiquitous hardware with decent IO can easily out weight a slow (even glacial) CPU for many users.
Very few Pis are seeing use as "desktop" computers. None of the approx 10 I know of are even connected to a monitor. Plenty of them are acting as a full linux OS in front of a hobby project, the CPU could be anything really. Most of mine normally have loadavgs of under 0.1.
If I had to "fix" things about the Pi it'd be dropping the SD Card for another USB (which you could boot off), more RAM, and giving it a power switch jumper. CPU is waaaay down the list and not something I'd ever consider paying 4x the price for.
The CIR module is also interesting. But I'll echo the overpriced for the specs comment.
One thing only Via seems to get so far is to make boards *TX compatible. You can't mount a Pi or Beagle in a normal case.
You're also completely right about a maintained OS. I own a Beagleboard-xM and I am very disappointed about how poorly the distros are maintained. You can get pretty new kernels but it's such a hassle to use the xM's features that I shouldn't have had to bother with in the first place.
Upper right of the board. The silk-screening says SD1.
Smells to me like VIA is not getting much traction with their current spin of the wondermedia platform. It definitely cannot compete with the allwinner, mediatek or rockchips of today. Not in terms of price/performance, features, and definitely not in the form of hackable designs...