How much are you planning to spend on your next computer?
Here’s an idea. How about $35?
It’s possible, thanks to U.K. non-profit, the Raspberry Pi Foundation.
The device works pretty much just like a standard computer, too. Just plug in your monitor, keyboard and mouse, and you’re up and running. It’s capable of storing files, supporting 1080p high definition video, playing games, and has an ethernet port to connect to the internet.
The difference is, this particular machine is the size of a credit card, receives power from a mobile phone charger and looks more like a component you’d find inside a computer.
Also, as you might expect for a $35 computer, you’re not going to see the blazingly fast processor speeds you’d get with state-of-the-art PCs.
In fact, with only 256 MB (megabytes) of RAM built into the Raspberry Pi computer, some newer smartphones have beefier processing power. The Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone 4S, for instance, has twice the RAM with 512MB. And the Samsung (SEO: 005930) Galaxy Nexus comes with a full gigabyte.
Although creating a full-blown multi-tasking monster to compete with modern machines wasn’t the goal to begin with…
Grooming New Software Developers
The main purpose of rolling out Raspberry Pi is to get more computers in schools.
And more specifically, the Foundation is attempting to lay the groundwork for a new, better prepared generation of young computer programmers. That’s why it decided to use the free Linux operating system, an open source platform that’s more tailored to would-be programmers.
As Eben Upton, executive director of Raspberry Pi says:
“We just want to get kids programming. The goal here is to increase the number of children to apply to university to do computer science and to increase the range of things they know how to do when they arrive.”
The idea is, for $35, schools won’t be hesitant to allow kids to get their hands dirty by playing around with the computer’s code.
My thoughts? Bring it on.
With more connected devices hitting the market, preparing future programmers to innovate and ultimately make electronics more useful in our daily lives sounds like the best idea I’ve heard all year.
Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so, either…
Raspberry Pi Beyond the Classroom
Unsurprisingly, after the Raspberry Pi computer officially went on sale yesterday, it sold out within minutes.
And with a device that costs less than half your monthly smartphone bill, you can bet that this demand is only going to ramp up.
Especially considering that the $35 price tag is actually for the “higher end” model. Another version of the machine, dubbed Model A, costs just $25.
Plus, with its ability to play high definition video, consumers could end up purchasing it simply as a low cost alternative to video streaming devices that are currently invading living rooms. Like the Roku Player ($79), Boxee Box ($179), Google TV ($159) or Apple TV ($99).
Eventually, Raspberry Pi plans to encase the open board device, too. Which should only serve to further boost sales in the coming months.
There’s no question that this barebones computer has potential, both in and out of the classroom.