The price of high-spec rivals to the $35 Raspberry Pi computer continues to fall.
The latest low-cost Pi competitor to launch is the Orange Pi One Plus, a $20 board that on paper offers smooth 4K video playback, alongside HDMI 2.0a and Gigabit Ethernet.
These features are not available on the latest Raspberry Pi, the Pi 3 Model B. However, the Orange Pi One Plus doesn't trump the Pi 3 in every regard.
The Orange Pi One Plus only has a single USB 2.0 host port, compared to four on the Pi 3, and, like the Pi 3, has a quad-core, Arm Cortex A53-based processor. The Orange Pi also has the same amount of memory as the Pi 3, but the Orange Pi's DDR3 RAM is slightly faster than the Raspberry Pi's DDR2.
While the Orange Pi One Plus runs Android, it only supports the older 7.0 version at present. The Linux-based operating systems Ubuntu and Debian are also being tested on the board.
As ever, if you're looking for a low-cost computer that is easy to get started with, then the Raspberry Pi 3 is probably the best choice. The Orange Pi has some improved specs but doesn't offer the Raspberry Pi's extensive range of operating systems, software, projects and community support.
And despite many Pi clones now being faster on paper, sometimes the spec sheet doesn't tell the entire story, due to bottlenecks elsewhere in the system.
Although the Allwinner H6 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) used in the Orange Pi also supports USB 3.0 and PCI-E interfaces, these features aren't offered by the Orange Pi One Plus. Given the SoC is capable of more, it may be worth waiting for other H6-based, single-board computers to be released.
- System-on-a-chip: Allwinner H6 V200 quad-core, Arm Cortex A53 processor
- GPU: Arm Mali-T720MP2
- Memory: 1GB LPDDR3
- Storage: microSD card slot up to 32GB
- Video/Audio output: HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR, HDCP, CEC
- Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet (via Realtek RTL8211 transceiver)
- USB: 1 x USB 2.0 host port, 1 x micro USB OTG port
- Expansion: 26-pin header
- Debugging: 3-pin serial console header
- Misc: Power & status LEDs, power button, IR receiver
- Power: 5V/2A power barrel jack, micro USB port
- Dimensions: 68 x 48mm
- Weight: 50g
Read more about the Raspberry Pi
- Raspberry Pi: The smart person's guide
- Want a more powerful Raspberry Pi? Choose from these 20 alternatives
- GCHQ builds monster Raspberry Pi cloud with OctaPi formation (ZDNet)
- How to give your Raspberry Pi 'state-of-the art computer vision' using Intel's Neural Compute Stick
- Raspberry Pi 3: The inside story from the new $35 computer's creator
- Raspberry Pi in 2017: New boards, new OSes and more
- Choosing a Raspberry Pi OS? Here's the definitive list
- Raspberry Pi rival delivers a 4K Android computer for just $25
- Raspberry Pi and Docker: Tiny $35 computer gets major new release of HypriotOS (ZDNet)
- Turn any hard drive into networked storage with Raspberry Pi (CNET)
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.