PCs

Missed out on Raspberry Pi? Here're five alternatives

The Raspberry Pi $35 Linux computer sold out within hours of going on sale in February - with demand for the device reportedly hitting 700 orders per minute.

The upshot is a lot of people who wanted the credit card-sized Raspberry Pi have been left empty-handed - with anyone ordering the device today unlike to receive one until about July.

Fortunately, the Raspbery Pi is not the only pocket-sized device in town. There are a variety of alternatives worth considering if you want to get your geek on with a relatively low-cost, portable computer.

PandaBoard ES

Like the Pi but with a bit more grunt under the hood and a higher price tag, the $180 PandaBoard ES is suited to both PC user and developer.

The diminutive board is based on an open-source hardware design, and can run several flavours of Linux, such as Ubuntu and the Android OS. Support for a range of add-on boards allows the device to drive motors, run sensors and power LEDs, or anything else an electronics or robotics enthusiast might want to do.

Among other things, PandaBoards have been used as media centres streaming 1080p, as control units for robots, as a wearable computer, to run a gesture-control interface, and as a general-purpose Android dev tool.

Hobbyists and new users will benefit from the active online community collaborating on PandaBoard projects and sharing tips on its use through wikis, mailings, videos and chat channels.

Photo: teamstickergiant via Flickr under licence.

Specs

Board: Core Logic OMAP4460 system on a chip.

Processor: 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor.

Graphics: Full HD 1080p multi-standard video encode-decode.Imagination Technologies' POWERVR SGX540 graphics core supporting APIs including OpenGL ES v2.0, OpenGL ES v1.1, OpenVG v1.1 and EGL v1.3.

Video/Audio: HDMI v1.3, DVI-D Connector, LCD expansion header, DSI support. 3.5mm audio in and out, HDMI audio out, stereo audio input support.

Memory: 1GB DDR2 RAM.

Storage: Full-size SD-MMC card cage with support for high-speed and high-capacity SD cards.

Connectivity: 10/100 Ethernet, wireless connectivity 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR based on WiLink 6.0.Three USB 2.0 ports - one on the go, two host.

Expansion: General-purpose expansion header - I2C, GPMC, USB, MMC, DSS, ETM - camera expansion header, LCD signal expansion using a single set of resistor banks.

Debug: JTAG, UART/RS-232.

Other: Two configurable status LEDs, one GPIO button, sys-boot switch to boot from number of sources.

Dimensions: 4.5 inches high, four inches wide.

Weight: 2.88oz.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

20 comments
michael
michael

For $74 (versus $199 for the Cotton Candy), the 7-ounce device gives you a 1.5-GHz Allwinner A10 CPU, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and, like the Cotton Candy, Android 4.0. FXI's version, on the other hand, packs a dual-core 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos processor, and while the MK802 offers an HDMI port, the Cotton Candy includes an HDMI connector.

dst1980
dst1980

Via has announced the APC 8750 as a $49 alternative to Raspberry Pi coming soon. It has an info page at http://apc.io Specs: Software: Android 2.3 (PC System) Chip: VIA 800MHz Processor Memory: DDR3 512MB Memory Storage: 2GB NAND Flash Graphics: Built-in 2D/3D Graphic Resolution: up to 720p Input and Output: HDMI, VGA, USB 2.0 (x4), Audio out / Mic in, microSD Slot Network: 10/100 Ethernet

pmshah
pmshah

Pi is sold at $35/=. I am pretty sure some Chinese bootleg product will soon be available for even less than that.

guy
guy

Try to buy a CuBox? You'll get the message "our first batch has sold out. We are accepting preorders for the next batch." Does this sound familiar?

pmshah
pmshah

Only reason I am interested in Raspberry Pi is on reducing my power consumption when downloading torrents 24/7. That part is missing from all the provided specs !

aroc
aroc

That's the usual "decision table" in these matters, and I suppose a lot of folks think the RPi hits a nice balance point. These "alternatives" seem to miss out on the "Cheap" criterion, but that is more typical. Actually, I like "pre-owned" to get close to that balance point, and have found many good deals on eBay, generally in the notebook PC category (or parts for them). However, a Dell Streak 5 for a $100 was a more recent exception - the seller botched reconnecting the cables for replacing the screen that seems especially vulnerable on these devices, and I worked through that with some good guides/pix Googled up to order. I suppose I was trading off the "fast" criterion. YMMV

Realvdude
Realvdude

There is nothing that compares to it for price and feature. The Model B is what I am looking at to test a turnkey VPN solution.

anil_g
anil_g

It's interesting to see this variety of compact devices and nice to know they're available. The cotton candy looks like fun. Keep it in your pocket and hook up to any monitor and keyboard/mouse you happen to find! I didn't know about Raspberry Pi either, so that's also interesting.

cliff
cliff

In your defense, you did NOT say "reasonable" alternatives. However, when compiling a list of "alternatives", I think it would be most helpful to the reader if the list matched, as closely as possible, the same function and price point as the original item. The Bentley is an alternative to the Chevy Cavalier. It is, however, an alternative that I am not even remotely interested in.

mark
mark

All of these alternatives cost at least $100 more than the $35 RaspberryPi, taking them out of the list of candidates for ubiquitous computing that the Pi targets. All of these are interesting devices but they target different use cases.

DesertJim
DesertJim

I was wowed with the Raspberry Pi and Scratch, just the job to get into playing with computers. Couldn't get one out here in Dubai just yet, so dug out that 10 year old Celeron box, put ubuntu 32 bit and Scratch on it. My son "wrote" his first programme, he is just over 5, magic! When I get the chance I'll get him a Pi, until then zero cost alternative (even the most pedantic accountant would have written off the computer by now)

l_creech
l_creech

PandaBoard has "3.5-inch audio in and out"?!?!?! Might want to change that to 3.5mm and hire a proof reader.

brianzion
brianzion

mmm not fair to compare them boards with the pi mines on order and i don't mind the wait its for my 11 yr old Daughter to learn programming etc what it was intended for by the developers.

dtrnelson
dtrnelson

I'd be very interested in your other lists of alternatives to "Things that Cost $35". :^)

Smart_Neuron
Smart_Neuron

As pjmckay correctly noted above... I would rather pay $35 or so than 3 digits for nothing. You can buy a used PC for that much! Patience... The Raspeberry PI will create an entire new audience, just like the Apple II did.

pjmckay
pjmckay

One is $35 the other 5 are $100+ more. One is small, cheap, and worth a play with little lost if it's not for you. I can throw away $35 a lot easier than $150. I can buy a proper system board for that. The key thing was to supply a device for the emerging masses; a device that was practical and also had a learning function. I'm sorry but none of the other 5 come close to those aims in my opinion. No doubt great products... but surely a different market.

aroc
aroc

If it is powered by USB, it cannot draw but so much - half an amp (500ma)?

dmiller_it
dmiller_it

Instant messaging has ruined me for life.... I read right past that error with an image of a stereo mini jack in my head. It's getting so that I automatically translate absolutely everything I read into what I imagine the author intended to write. (wait...that's not ~cough/gag/choke~ an assumption...is it?!?)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Also, better than you think. We humans are EXCEEDINGLY GOOD at rationalizing error out of existence. Sometimes it makes us hear or see or read what we want to see/hear/read... but mostly it just saves us the trouble of bothering with paying attention to typos.