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Honey badger (United Kingdom)

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Zalman FX70 Silent Heatsink for CPU
Zalman FX70 Silent Heatsink for CPU
Price: £30.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Fanless heatsink. Just add fan, 17 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Zalman claim this can passively cool a CPU with TDP of 95w or less. I have a 65w AMD APU, and with 6 heat pipes it certainly looks like it might be able to deliver on that promise.
Unfortunately it didn't for me. I watched the temperature rise in the BIOS until I chickened out and clipped on a 120mm case fan. The temperature plummeted back to a few degrees above ambient.

This is a really effective heatsink, just not in passive configuration. It's also pretty painful to fit because it doesn't use the standard motherboard bracket.

Overall it doesn't justify it's massive footprint and obscured access to RAM slots, and I'd have to buy a decent case-fan otherwise it's actually louder than my existing after-market heatsink.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Desktop (Quad Core CPU 900 MHz, 1 GB RAM, Linux)
Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Desktop (Quad Core CPU 900 MHz, 1 GB RAM, Linux)
Price: £29.99

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast drop-in replacement, 11 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I gave the original B a scathing review for a host of sloppy design compromises, ports that didn't line up, poor quality SDcard slot, and above all its slowness. And it was slow. Rasbian booted to a truly unusable desktop. However by the time the B+ arrived, I'd made peace with the Pi for a range of headless tasks where this didn't matter too much.

The Pi 2 is the best type of upgrade; a fully drop-in replacement. Same tight design as the B+, but with a quad core ARMv7 processor, and double RAM. It should fit almost any existing B+ case, unless it wraps the CPU unnecessarily close such as 'Pibow'. The RAM chip has also migrated to the rear of the board.
Typical power consumption is comparable to the B+, which itself was a massive improvement over the B thanks to its switching regulator.

The move to ARMv7 is the biggest news because it unlocks a wide range of off-the-shelf Linux ARM distributions to run on the Pi. There's already a working Debian image out there, and more will surely come.
The Pi 2 has a cool new educational purpose. To fully utilize the power of the new quad-core processor, programmers will have to explore multi-threading, and inter-process communication. It's good practice for young programmers to study concurrency problems early.

Community and alternatives
The problem with the Banana Pi and ODROID-C1 is lack of community, software support, and availability. These things matter, and they usually matter more than specs.
The Pi 2 has respectable specs now, and is probably fast enough to be used as a desktop.
Highly recommended for both replacing existing Pis, as well as new users. This is the tiny inexpensive ARM computer to own.

I paid £29.99 under Amazon's pre-order guarantee, and it arrived today. Quite lucky given the ridiculously high demand.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2015 8:57 PM GMT

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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obvious snake-oil is obvious, 8 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
*Sigh* I'm embarrassed to admit, I accidentally ordered this when I ordered my Waterpik.
However I'm returning it unopened, because this *CAN NOT WORK*. My excuse for adding such an obvious snake-oil product to my basket was extreme tiredness, so to repent I'm going to break this thing down...

Tetrasodium pyrophosphate - A common food additive, and toothpaste ingredient. Helps prevent plaque formation but can't break existing hardened deposits.
Sodium triphosphate - Food preservative, also known as additive E451. Not an active ingredient.
Baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) - An alkaline, and mild abrasive when added to toothpaste.
Citric acid - An acid obviously. On its own this erodes tooth enamel, though is neutralized by baking soda.
Fluoride - Every toothpaste, and many mouthwashes have fluoride already.

Baking soda + Citric acid react in water producing sodium citrate + water + carbon dioxide. Exactly the same as Alka-Seltzer. Makes a product fizz, but it doesn't do anything. Still not an active ingredient though, so it's all for show.

5 useless ingredients, but when combined in the super secret MAGIC patented recipe, will break down what basically amounts to stone bonded to teeth. Patents are public documents, so if the patent really exists the the recipe is not also a trade-secret.

Smell 1: Snake-oil products are grossly over-priced because they have to be, relying on a tiny population of people being tricked into buying. Like me.
Smell 2: Cheap bulk ingredients. No active ingredients. Let's put it this way; if I was making a snake-oil product, this is exactly what I'd make it out of!
Smell 3: Marketing written to target ignorance of dental practices, as well as GCSE science.
Smell 4: Mixed reviews, and many reviewers unsure if the product worked better than placebo.
Smell 5: Aggressive astroturfing on This is where most of the reviews are, since this is an American product. Read these first.

Tarter isn't just some gunk on your teeth. Biofilms evolved over millions of years to STICK HARD to our mammalian teeth. Swilling a £30 tub of baking soda + squirt of tooth-paste, which is all this product is, isn't going to harm these critters one little bit.
Unfortunately for us humans, once the deposits have hardened, scraping with metal or ultrasonic cleaners are the only things that will.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 24, 2015 3:47 PM BST

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 1 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A 1kg bag of berries was somehow larger than I imagined. Around 30cm tall, it feels like great value for money.
The berries are tasty as a muesli ingredient, or straight out of the packet as a snack

Integral Europe Fusion USB 3.0 Flash Drive 64 GB Metallic Grey
Integral Europe Fusion USB 3.0 Flash Drive 64 GB Metallic Grey
Price: £26.49

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Overheats and fails, 7 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After 12 months of very light use, this drive began to overheat and corrupt data, then failed completely.
Reading the other reviews, there are too many people that suffered the exact same failure pattern.
I loved the design, but won't be replacing this drive because I don't trust it.

Raspberry Pi B+ Desktop (700MHz Processor, 512MB RAM, 4x USB Port)
Raspberry Pi B+ Desktop (700MHz Processor, 512MB RAM, 4x USB Port)
Price: £20.50

56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Raspberry Pi 1.0, 17 July 2014
I got the B+ to replace a Pi that runs 24/7. The change from linear to switching regulator means the board wastes less power, and can run significantly longer on backup battery power.

Other than that, the functionality is exactly the same, but this feels like a finished product.
The previous Raspberry Pi, let's call it the Beta had notoriously bad USB ports. USB is the canonical example of hot-pluggablity, yet doing so would cause the beta to reboot. Rest assured that you can hot-swap even the most powerful USB devices on the B+.

There isn't a photo of this at time of writing, but the board has a robust metal push/push microSD slot. The inserted microSD card overhangs a tiny bit; just enough to operate the push-to-eject mechanism.

With the flush USB connectors, microSD slot, and little details such as moving the network activity LEDs onto the Ethernet jack, these all add up to a significant improvement over the half-baked layout of the beta board.

The only downside I can think of is that a great many cases are not going to fit the new board. Either because they adhered too tightly to the old port layout, or because they held the board by its corners which are now rounded.

NETGEAR XAVB5401-100UKS Powerline 500 Nano PassThru 1 Port Adapter Kit
NETGEAR XAVB5401-100UKS Powerline 500 Nano PassThru 1 Port Adapter Kit
Offered by NETWORK LTD
Price: £69.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review for linux users, 12 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like all consumer grade gear, advanced configuration is done via a shonky windows-only application.

As a user of a different OS, you might be wondering if you'll be able to access the security settings, disable the LEDs etc, from that old copy of windows you keep in virtualBox for just such an occasion.
Yes you can; if you set your VM to use a 'bridged adaptor'.

These adaptors are plugged into upstairs/downstairs ring circuits, and the speed between them is 140mbps. Rock stable.
Obviously the 100mbps Ethernet ports bottle-neck this, but better that than the other way round.

Adafruit Low-Profile SD to Micro-SD Card Adapter for Raspberry Pi
Adafruit Low-Profile SD to Micro-SD Card Adapter for Raspberry Pi
Offered by The Pi Hut
Price: £5.38

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately necessary, 9 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This item is very good quality. The sort of quality you wish the Raspberry Pi's own SD card slot had, but doesn't.

I prefer this style to the traverse style of similar Pi card adaptors because it can be inserted and *never* removed again.
The push/push style saves you the fiddly operation of trying to pull a microSD card with your fingernails.

Only buy this for the Pi, and even then, only if your case has clearance around the slot, or can be modified, because it's double the height, and still protrudes slightly from the board edge.

A bit expensive for what it is, but will surely save the Pi's cheap plastic SD socket from being ripped off by the leverage of a full length SD card.

MiniSun 4w SES E14 LED SMD Pygmy Light Bulb - 6500K Daylight / Cool White
MiniSun 4w SES E14 LED SMD Pygmy Light Bulb - 6500K Daylight / Cool White

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shining light of the future, 9 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought this to replace a 15w incandescent fridge bulb.
The fatter base of this bulb meant the fridge's plastic bulb holder needed modifying slightly to fit, but it was totally worth the effort.
I can see my food like it's never been seen before.

You can never return to the grungy dystopian world of incandescent fridge light after experiencing this.

6 month update: Still working and seems to tolerate the cold environment of the fridge well.

Raspberry Pi Model B (512MB RAM, UK Model)
Raspberry Pi Model B (512MB RAM, UK Model)
Offered by New IT limited
Price: £34.95

26 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pure hype, 22 Mar. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Price and public relations

This was as close to an impulse buy as I get. I did only the bare minimum research into compatible peripherals.
That was mostly thanks to the low price, which in turn is achieved by a strictly 'batteries not included' philosophy of the project.
Once you include peripherals, you're leaving impulse buy territory.

It's only after playing with the board for a while, and reading the background information, which I would've already done for a more expensive product, that I discovered what a Lemon the Raspberry Pi actually is.

Ok. The board is pretty cheap. It has a lofty goal of improving education, and the Pi foundation is a non-profit. There's your headline, and there's your perfect storm of media hype.
But it doesn't deliver.

If you're reading this on Amazon, it's more likely you're shopping for yourself or family member as an enthusiast, and not for formal education.
I think it's ok if you have expectations that you might learn something from this, despite not being the target market.

Performance and Proprietariness

The elephant in the room is the immensely powerful x86 machine inevitably sitting next to the Pi. Everyone has them. All schools have labs full of them.
Python and Scratch run on Windows. For learning about linux and upwards, including all high-level languages, the Raspberry Pi offers nothing you don't already have access to.

So what about below linux? Bare-metal assembly, hardware architecture, GPGPU development?
Forget it.

The VideoCore IV GPU, ARM co-processor and RAM are a package collectively known as the System-on-a-chip, or SoC. This is manufactured by Broadcom.
The same Broadcom that make nasty propitiatory wi-fi dongles, which cause naive linux users to assign blame to linux, when had they understood the issues, all they needed was buy Atheros hardware instead.

Broadcom is as open-source hostile as it's physically possible to be. They occasionally throw the community a bone, but be under no illusion, the Raspberry Pi is a black box of impenetrable propiatoryness.

It doesn't even boot like a "normal" computer. The GPU boots the system from a huge binary blob on the SD card. There's literally nothing to learn here.
There are also insurmountable problems with the USB controller. It's all decidedly non-standard and irksome when you start to dig deeper.

The choice of an obsolete ARM processor was also unfortunate as it excludes the Pi from running off-the-shelf ARM ports of Linux. Forget stock Debian or Ubuntu. You're limited to one of the few distros compiled specifically for the Pi.

Alternatives to Pi

I didn't buy the Raspberry Pi for any particular purpose, but instead sought to discover what it could do.
However it feels that by optimizing for price, it's been perfectly de-optimized for everything else.

Sacrifice price-point for performance:
The Pi is slow. Even interpreted languages which you're used to running instantly are sluggish to start up. Compiling is slow as molasses.
For those who see a possible cheap media centre or server, reconsider. You'd need to buy a license to play your legacy videos, including DVD. For under £50 you can get a Cubieboard. A vastly more capable dual-core ARM7 board, with onboard NAND flash, SATA port, and the ability to boot from either of them, or network boot. Serious play time.
The VIA APC around £40 is also pretty cute, being Neo-ITX it fits in a standard computer case.

Sacrifice performance for openness.
If you're going to claim "It's for the children", it had better be open. It's not OK that a curious mind asks a question and is told NO! Patents! Non-disclosure agreement! Don't event think about it!
Luckily for many projects such as robotics you don't need much power, and there's already a sleuth of open-source hardware projects out there.
Or for Linux how about no hardware at all. I believe destroying things is part of learning, and a virtual machine allows the learner to make catastrophic mistakes at zero cost.

For comparable hardware, the OLinuXino claims total moral victory over the Pi. It rightly deserves the fame, and consequent economies of scale that the open-washing, over-hyped Pi has managed to hoodwink from the media.

Hopefully I've at least made the casual buyer think twice, and rustled the jimmies of the unusually rabid Pi fanboys.

While the Pi is a dud that's outclassed by your OpenWRT router, the good news is that the time of cheap single-board computer has arrived. For whatever your goals, better offerings are out there, and are improving all the time.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2015 10:37 AM GMT

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