What would you do with a $35 computer? - Design Bureau

What would you do with a $35 computer?

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

True, the name is dreadful, the logo even worse and the geeky promotional videos bordering on self-parody, but that all can be excused (and maybe improved someday). I’m still intrigued by Raspberry Pi, the low-cost computer released by the element 14. The UK gang has just released the Model B, a credit card sized board with a Broadcom BCM2835 System-On Chip running Linux. Translation: A small, powerful computer that’s about the size of this writer’s wallet.

Element 14 might sound fly-by-night, but the foundation is actually a spin-off of Acorn Computers, a longtime British educational computer maker. The Raspberry Pi is the product of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, supported by the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and Broadcom. The whole idea of this cheap and flexible computer is to make computer programming more accessible and to encourage kids to get into it.

The unclothed PC may not look like much, but we’re told, with the right open source software, it can do what computers are generally expected to do: run spreadsheets, word-processing and games, display high-definition video and play music. Model B has 256MB RAM memory, two USB ports and a 10/100 Ethernet controller as well as HDMI and composite video outputs. It has a powerful graphics chip built-in. It runs the OS and applications off an SD card—which you supply. The Model B plugs into your TV and a keyboard.

Right now, the Raspberry Pi Model B is completely sold-out, but they’ll make more soon. Honestly, this could be a very good thing. It's technology almost completely devoid of style or marketing, so you have to use your imagination to picture the infinite possibilities. While we wait for more Model Bs, I’ve got some questions for you, the design community. Visit us at Facebook to tell us your thoughts on the Raspberry Pi.


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