Raspberry Pi the mini computer making a big splash
Over the past few months you may have heard about Raspberry Pi, the credit card size computer that's taking the world by storm. Not quite as edible as it sounds, but definitely a tasty morsel of gadget goodness, Raspberry Pi (RPi) is a super cheap mini computer that's powerful, easy-to-use and packed with features that you'd expect to find in a full price PC.
RPi is the brainchild of Eben Upton and the Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi foundation, a UK registered charity dedicated to improving the way children interact with computers. It's designed to be super portable and easy to take with you everywhere, for a lighter-than-laptop approach to mobile computing that makes programming more accessible to the younger generation.
RPi runs off a custom version of Fedora: an open source, Linux-based operating system that has been specially designed for it, and because this mini marvel doesn't require a Windows license key, the cost is kept down for the consumer. Priced at just $35/£22, RPi is a great introduction to the world of computers, and it still packs sufficient computing power to be used for word processing, web browsing and programming.
RPi is capable of playing Blu-ray quality videos in 1080p and can be used as a media centre when coupled with software like XMBC (a media center that provides a slick interface for your films and music). The XBMC RPi media center has already been created, and it will undoubtedly be a first choice for people that are looking to have all of their films and music accessible on a Media PC.
Not all of us have joined the HD generation yet, so it will be welcome news that the RPi also streams video in standard definition via an RCA port and also has a headphone socket. The RPi is powered by a standard Micro USB mobile phone charger and has USB ports to enable mouse and keyboard support.
One of the other many reasons why the Raspberry Pi will be popular is because it will be cost-effective to upgrade in terms of memory. On a conventional PC data storage is limited to the hard drive, but RPi uses SD cards to store your content; the same kind of memory cards that you will find in your digital camera. This makes upgrading the memory easy and fast, as well as relatively cost effective.
The first in a new generation of surprisingly powerful mini computers, RPi has already garnered support from an entire community of developers around the world, who all want to ‘hack’ it apart to see what cool things they can get it to do. Possibilities include getting it to run different Operating Systems, different programs, or even using it to create entirely new projects.
One of these new projects is 'Scratch', an innovative programe that will teach programming languages to adults and children alike. Based on a unique system designed by MIT, Scratch teaches the user to associate colours with outcomes, before introducing computing terms and extracts of code. It makes the process of learning a programming language a lot easier and a lot less frustrating. The way it works is both fun and gradual - much more enjoyable than reading a heavy programming tutorial!
Whether you want a slice of the Raspberry Pi or not, it’s easy to see that it will have applications and uses for a variety of people and circumstances. RPi's powerful hardware, innovative software and remarkably low price will mean that it sells like hotcakes. Within the first few hours of the RPi going on sale, the website collapsed under the large amount of web traffic from people desperate to get their hands on one.
For more information check out Raspberrypi.org.