Raspberry Pi review – the price is right, but the software is not…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have at least heard of the Raspberry Pi. Since the creation of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a not-for-profit charity created by Eben Upton and David Braben, the credit-card sized computer has rarely spent a day out of the press – despite delays caused by manufacturing issues and unprecedented demand.

The Pi’s problems look to be at an end, and customers are finally receiving their long-awaited boards – but does the device deliver on its promise of affordable, hackable computing in a tiny package?

Raspberry Pi review – the price is right, but the software is not…It’s the size that first grabs you when you handle a retail-model Raspberry Pi. At 85.60mm×53.98mm it’s the approximate size of a credit card, and with a total weight of 45g it’s certainly pocket-friendly. Very few development boards offer the same power in as compact a layout, with the notable exception of the BeagleBone at 86.36×53.34mm.

A compact layout doesn’t mean a lack of features, however. The Model B variant of the Raspberry Pi, as reviewed, boasts HDMI digital video and audio output from a full-size connector, two USB 2.0 ports powered by an internal hub, a 3.5mm jack for analogue audio, an RCA connector for composite video, a 10/100M Ethernet jack and a microUSB socket for the required 5V power input.

Those are just the readily-accessible ports, too: the Pi also features a Display Serial Interconnect (DSI) header for connection to a smartphone- or tablet-style screen, a MIPI camera interface, and a 26-pin general-purpose IO (GPIO) header which offers UART serial, Inter-Integrated Circuit (IイC) two-wire, Serial Peripheral Interconnect (SPI) and eight addressable general-purpose pins on 2.54mm male headers.

Raspberry Pi review – the price is right, but the software is not…Notable in its absence is an IEEE 1149.1 JTAG connector for debugging. It’s not something that will cause end-users any heartache, but those looking to the Pi as a cheaper alternative to the likes of Qualcomm’s Dragonboard or Samsung’s Origen would do well to consider whether a development system can really live without it.

 

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Raspberry Pi accessories tin

After waiting several months, my Raspberry Pi finally arrived. As it comes quite naked, you need some accessories to use...

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