The Raspberry Pi is an ultra-low-cost, deck-of-cards sized Linux computer. Developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the UK, the Raspberry Pi aims to put the fun back into learning computing by promoting the study of computer science and programming at a school level.
Raspberry PI Modell B, 512 MB without any accessories
This Raspberry Pi is a bargain for any enthusiast wishing to do a little tinkering with a mini PC and possibly learn some coding. I was no expert when I brought one and certainly aren't now either so I won't try to pretend I am.
I bought this because as soon as I heard about it I thought it would be a very interesting purchase for entertainment purposes. I had many ideas about what I wanted to use it for and it has provided a lot of fun to play around with. Ideas that I have tried so far are using it as a fun mini-desktop and also as a home-theatre PC. Both were fun to set up and play around with though I never expected it to be as good as my actually desktop. The home-theatre option was very interesting though, by far the best use in my household. The model I purchased has 512MB of RAM which makes it seem quite responsive to a 256MB Ram edition I have tried. I loaded XBMC to my SD card and slipped it into the Pi and I was away. As well as this it also has 2 x USB 2.0 ports, RCA Video Out, 3.5mm Jack Out, Ethernet and obviously the HDMI out. Although the speed of the startup isn't as lightning fast as we're used to these days it certainly suffices - and sure enough when all is set up and running it can smoothly play back 1080p movies for your enjoyment.
The Raspberry Pi is an amazing device that packs a lot into a small space. It's simplicity has amazed me at the same time as I have been hit the frustration of the minutia of configuring some of the detail of its Linux system. However, I am having fun, learning a lot of new things and rediscovering skills that I thought I had lost many years ago.
The Raspberry Pi is a learning machine. That does not mean low quality, for example the choice of HDMI as the main AV output is inspired. I plugged my Raspberry Pi into my flat screen TV and was amazed by the clarity of the image. I get equally good results from a monitor with a DVI-D port using an HDMI to DVI cable. However, I've not been able to get the same monitor to detect the VGA output from a HDMI to VGA adapter.
You are going to need some other bits with your Raspberry Pi. It has connectors on all four sides and you are going to be plugging things in on at least three of them. Get a case to protect your Raspberry Pi while you are handling it. You are also almost certain to need a powered USB hub. The Raspberry Pi has to restrict the power to the USB ports to protect itself so your USB devices will need to be powered from another source.
If you have a smart phone or tablet device then you may not need to purchase a power supply. If you do then the power supply needs to be a good quality one. To my surprise I found that the power supply from my Kindle 3G rated at 500mA actually works better than the 1 Amp power adaptor I purchased with my Pi!
I also discovered the hard way that a wireless mouse and keyboard are to be recommended with your Raspberry Pi. The ...Logitech MK260 Wireless Desktop is a Linux compatible wireless mouse and keyboard set that works well for me.
Be warned that you may well need to start with a wired Internet connection to your Raspberry Pi. Make sure that you have a patch cable to hand. My major frustration has been configuring a wireless network connection that has turned out to be not as simple as I expected.
Be prepared to flash your SDHC memory card as and when needed. This is part of the philosophy behind the Raspberry Pi. When you mess your computer up you simply flash the memory card to restore the system, run an update to get the latest versions of the packages that you are using and start over again.
Remember, this is not a production machine. The Raspberry Pi is a device that is intended for experimentation. You might want to use it to build a media centre to service your TV. You could use it to convert your TV in to a giant photo frame. You might even use it to index your stamp collection. The possibilities are almost endless. The point is that you have the chance to give it a try and if it all goes wrong, then you just flash the memory card and start over on something new.Read more ›
Before ordering the RPi I saw some bad reviews that I would like to clarify.
First, if you are not familiar at all with GNU/Linux then I'm not sure this is the toy for you. Even though is easy to use and configure, you might need a basic knowledge on Linux commands in case something goes wrong. If you don't have it, then at least you should be handy with computer issues fixing and don't get frustrated if the first try doesn't work. The support from the several RPi forums is normally good as well and can be helpful when it comes to troubleshooting in case you need it. If you don't qualify with any of the two options I gave you, then my best advice is that you stay away from the RPi, I know a 30 quid computer sounds tempting but if you don't know how to make it work then is useless.
Second, I saw some of the complains being related to boards Made in China and not in the UK. I got mine from The Pi Hut (fullfilled by Amazon) and it was the Made in the UK one.
On the last point, the ad is pretty clear that this is just the board and you need a power source and a SD card to make it work. So if you don't have those items, get them for just a couple of more pounds.
Besides those things I wanted to clarify, the Pi is just fantastic and I'm really surprised by the things is capable of. I currently have it working as a media center running OpenElec and I'm already thinking of buying a second one to be able to play more with it and all its capabillities.
In case you need some advices regarding extra add ons for it and you are not sure if they work, this is what I currently have and they are all available from Amazon: - OpenElec 3 (Linux distro with XBMC already loaded) - Fujifilm 4Gb Class 4 SD card (You can use plenty other ones but you should check the list of working ones from RPi wiki) - UK Micro USB Power Supply Charger For Raspberry Pi - 5V 1500mA (Sold by The Pi Hut, fullfilled by Amazon) - Edimax EW-7811UN usb wifi dongle (Works really well and out of the box with OpenElec) - Yatse, the XBMC Remote (Really good and free app available from Google Play Store, not sure if it's also present for iOS) - Seagate STBV2000200 2TB (Be aware that for external hard drives you need them to be self powered or use them with powered USB hubs, USB flash drives work just fine)Read more ›