The new LattePanda Alpha single-board computer may be similar in size to the tiny Raspberry Pi but its specs are to closer to an Apple MacBook.
Launching today, the LattePanda Alpha is not a Pi competitor, as while the Pi 3 B+ costs just $35, the LattePanda Alpha starts at $358.
That extra cash pays for specs more akin to those found on a laptop than on a low-cost board like the Pi.
The LattePanda Alpha uses the same class of Intel processor as found in the $1,200 12-inch MacBook.
Backing up this 7th-generation Intel Core m3 processor is 8GB of DDR3 memory and 64GB of fast eMMC v5.0 Flash storage, alongside Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, 4K video out and dual M.2 connectors that could be used for hooking up fast NVMe SSD storage.
The board is available with Windows 10 Pro, which pushes the price up to $398, as well as being compatible with a broad range of Linux-based operating systems due to its x86 CPU. The board—which is about 70% the length of the iPhone 7 Plus—is designed to be used to be used by developers building a wide range of hardware and software, from robotics to Internet of Things and edge-computing appliances. The Alpha has 2 x 50-pin headers for hooking up hardware, as well as an Arduino Leonardo co-processor.
The LattePanda Alpha was funded by a Kickstarter campaign last year, which exceeded its initial goal of $100,000 by over 800 percent.
It is not the first Windows 10-based developer board released by DFRobot, with an earlier machine selling for around $120. That initial board was again higher specced and priced than the Pi, but some reviewers also reported that the board overheated without additional cooling, resulting in the processor being throttled to a slower speed.
However, early reviews of the Alpha have been positive, with this reviewer finding Windows 10 to be fast and responsive on the board, and claiming even video editing worked "very well", but "not perfectly", on the computer.
The question facing developers and tech hobbyists looking for boards for home projects is whether a $300+ board is overkill when the Pi 3 B+ is available for one tenth the price and there are already some pretty capable boards for under $100.
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- Raspberry Pi meets AI: The projects that put machine learning on the $35 board (ZDNet)
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- 12 of the most awesome Raspberry Pi accessories (ZDNet)
- Cheap Raspberry Pi alternatives: 20 computers that cost less than the Pi 3 (TechRepublic)
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.