Big things come in small sizes
The hottest computer on the market isn't a $1,000+ decked-out gaming machine. It's actually a bare bones circuit board the size of a credit card. And it costs just $25.
Meet the Raspberry Pi. What's it good for?
For starters, you hook the Pi to an HDTV or digital monitor using HDMI. It can display high-definition videos, browse the Internet, play games or work on spreadsheets.
Sound great! Is it for you, though? Well, it depends.
First, let's look at a bit of history.
The low-cost Raspberry Pi is the brainchild of Eben Upton. In 2006, he was teaching computer science at the University of Cambridge. He found that computers were too expensive and too hard for ordinary users to program.
So, he set out to make a low-cost programming computer. His charitable foundation is working to get Raspberry Pis to kids all over the world. He hopes this will create a new generation of programmers.
Upton expected to sell 10,000 units, tops. So far, it has sold more than a million units and counting. It isn't just schools who want it. Computer programmers and hobbyists around the world are going crazy for it.
So, how can it improve your life?
At a basic level, you can use a Raspberry Pi as a media computer. It's also a capable second PC or a computer for kids. It runs the Linux operating system, which is free and very secure.
There are two models. The Model A ($25) has 256MB of RAM and one USB port. Model B ($35) has 512MB of RAM and adds a second USB connection and an Ethernet port.
Both flavors have an HDMI connection, an audio jack and an RCA video jack. You can add a USB hub to connect a keyboard, mouse and USB Wi-Fi.
The Pi is powered by a 32-bit 700 MHz ARM processor that's roughly equivalent to the performance of a Pentium 2 chip. Upton says the multimedia performance is between a Playstation 2 and Playstation 3.
To make the Pi operational, you need to supply a 5 volt micro USB power supply. An Android smartphone charger should do the trick. Just be sure to read the label. It needs to provide 700mA or better at 5V. Otherwise the Pi will behave erratically (or won't work at all).
The Pi has no internal storage; it boots from a standard SD card. You can buy a card pre-loaded with a compatible operating system or make one yourself by downloading a compatible operating system from the Raspberry Pi website. Of course, you can also hook up an external hard drive.
You should buy a case for the computer. It could get fried if it comes in contact with liquids or conductive metals. Or you can make your own, if you're so inclined. Some people have used LEGO!
Cases, power supplies and other accessories are available from a variety of third-party vendors. The two official U.S. Raspberry Pi sellers — Allied Electronics and Newark — also sell accessories and bundles.
You can use the Raspberry Pi for basic computer functions. Or you can take it to the next level with your own programs.
If you're considering buying, definitely check out the Raspberry Pi website for more information.
Email Kim Komando at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates pound Padres for 7th consecutive victory
- Steel Valley keeps taxes flat in 2015-16 budget
- Former Ford City superintendent charged with killing family member in Texas
- SummerFest taking shape for 2nd year in Ford City
- Apollo-Ridge students connect world, science
- Rural Valley celebration to mark fire department’s 100th year
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- UPMC McKeesport’s stroke team recognized
- LaBar: Future of Rusev in WWE critical
- Starkey: NHL playoffs suddenly sublime
- Overhaul possible for West Mifflin’s Century III Mall