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.


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.

By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is a computer science student and was formerly a journalist at TechRepublic and ZDNet.