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Forget about the Raspberry, take an Android 4 computer on a trip
Portable data? Why not a computer on a dongle. Just plug it into any HDMI television and enjoy games, music and games. Oh, and all Android apps which will work well with the bundled remote.

This smart dongle has everything and is completely open source as opposed to the Raspberry where the GPU is closed. They chose the OMAP 4 instead of the closed source Broadcomm chip. Add a BT keyboard and you have a perfect little pc. As a package much more interesting than the Raspberry.

And it has an LVDS screen which allows to connect a 1920x1080 LCD. I have some old laptops which could be used for a nice DIY project.

As it features an dual A9 ARM it´s much faster than a Raspberry as well. Estimated consumer price from 49$.

The catch: only available for OEM´s so we have to wait for someone to make it available. A real pity as it would be an excellent tool to play around with. Check the specs. It can be powered from an USB port so the TV can be used as the power supply. The dongle comes with a short cable and an USB plug.


TI Dual Cortex-A9 OMAP 4 (1.0 to 1.5GHz)
256MB to 1GB RAM memory
Storage: MicroSD card
HD 1080p H.264 profile 4 video decoding
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth class 2.1
NXP NFC solution
Voice control
Accelerometer-based RF remote control

Are there alternatives? This one should hit the shelves around the summer. Would you chose it over a Raspberry?
Gary Royal's profile photoStephen France's profile photoBrandon Partridge's profile photoArek Bekiersz's profile photo
No - it looks very nice indeed if they can release at that price, but Android still doesn't beat Ubuntu as a OS for me. I mean, this is more powerfull, but what android apps need that power?

That all said, wouldnt it be great if tvs had wifi or bluetooth with a standard protocol allowing any android phone too be used this way? That your phone is just a channel you can flick too.
Are they going to publish Linux-ISO:s Debian , Ubuntu etc?
+Thomas Wrobel, most smartphones will do something similar when you plug them into the HDMI port anyway.
The Cotton Candy is a very definite alternative, although how open is yet to be decided. It also costs more, but is even higher specced (same processor as the Samsung Galaxy SII). I just received a very early beta of the Cotton Candy to test home, and expect to get the consumer version fairly soon. The CC also has some patent covered usecases that will not be available in the competitors devices (unless licensed).
It's incredible how fast those cheap SoC based systems flood the market. But to be fair, the Raspberry Pi is not just a miniaturized computer, it's a project to give children access to programmable hardware and therefore programming skills. It's the oposite of consumer hardware and that makes a huge difference ;)
Excellent, how much and where will this be available? :-)
Will it port my data/settings from my Android ICS phone or be a whole new system?
+David Lehmann I wholeheartedly support the aims of the Raspberry project but I have my doubts about the choices they made. They have chosen a Broadcomm closed chip which completely obstructs nice graphics programming.
They went with their own design and the Broadcomm was added because they had connections there.
They completely underestimated the popularity. To get just 10.000 chips is indeed very difficult, but seeing that they already have 350.000 orders there would have been no problem to get any SoC.
The open source OMAP4 project is much more interesting.
Oh, and while I´m at it: by mixing hardware and software DIY in the project they got the worst of both worlds. The granddaddy of these projects: the ZX-81 which we all have stored somewhere as a memory was fully functional without the need to make or buy a casing.

Programmer could start typing (ouch, what a nasty keyboard it had) without tinkering with power supplies and casings. For HW projects the Raspberry is limited. The Arduino already created an ecosystem of peripheral stuff and it would have been better to use their i/o for sensors and stuff.
The Pi may be ill conceived but you can see why they made their choices. They didn't expect it to be such a massive hit and given that Eben works for Broadcom the easiest solution to getting a limited chip run was to get into bed with it being a closed system. Given that they are now going to sell bucket loads of the things I think they've proved that the ultra low cost soc market is ripe for other entrants such as this. You can say what you like about the Pi foundation, but just like the early home computers of the 80's they've changed the playing field.There were no sub $100 options that I'm aware of at the time. Even if the Pi disappears in a few years due to better specced and thought out systems (remember Sinclair?) at least in the UK if that gives us more tech savvy kids further down the line, I think it will all have been worth it.

As a side note, I remember that nasty keyboard +Max Huijgen and the considerable problems with ram pack wobble also!
+Thomas Wrobel What Android programs do need power like this? The programs you write for it?
Calculating PI on a cluster of dongles :) It will be just as fast as running Ubuntu and Android offers Renderscript so you have a fantastic high performance graphics library.
I forgive the foundation +Anthony Ashton but I would like to tell Sir Sinclair that wobbly expansion block ánd a keyboard which elicited major frustrations were a bad combi. Late at night I usually lost all my unsaved brilliant programming work :(
However there is no excuse +Anthony Ashton for the decision to chose the closed source GPU. I posted the same arguments as you did as you can see, but closed is still closed. If they had invested 50.000E in decent market research they would have found out that the demand was high enough to go with the OMAP4
Did they have 50K to spend though I wonder. They've kickstarted something anyway, and whether they disappear into fond memories of inadequate choices I think they've defined a market.The buzz I see in education specifically regarding the Pi is off the scale. I think it was always likely if their vision was successful that the bigger boys would quickly catch up and indeed surpass them with better decisions.
+Max Huijgen, you just defined British invention! A great idea, well engineered, but poorly researched and doomed to failure & ridicule.
+Max Huijgen Eclipse on Ubuntu > Eclipse on Droid - at least for the moment. ;)
Also, I wouldn't mind some 3d modeling packages. Rendering on a cluster that way would be nice.
Renderscript is a high level API to extract all hw speed out of your GPU +Thomas Wrobel I didn´t know this was available under Ubuntu.
Cotton Candy will come with Ubuntu and ICS support from the beginning, fwiw.
+Anthony Ashton I'm not sure I agree on the bucketloads thought. Closed is closed, and as hobbyists find out more about it I think they'll be looking for alternatives.

The wait for a ramp up on production certainly isn't helping.

Admittedly I was excited by their announcement, but apathy has set in, and given I'd have probably ordered 10 had they been remotely ready, ordering 1 might be a stretch now.
+Thomas Wrobel "640k should be enough for anyone" - Bill Gates

Okay, in all likelihood the quote is misattributed, but to ask what anybody would do with so much extra power, the answer is clear from history. They'd use it.

Maybe the android apps that exist today don't all need so much power, but Android as an OS has the potential to show up in many different places, doing many different things.

As to whether I'd rather have this or a Raspberry, I don't know. The Raspberry isn't really as appealing anymore
Yeah that's a completely valid point +Jeffrey Hamby, if the production isn't ramped up by the time other available options such as this pop up then it may turn out to be a damp squib. It's whenever that happens though in the sub $50 category.
+Tony Patino umm...but thats exactly the point: nothing to use it with NOW. The question was would I buy this over the PI, and thats the reason not. At the moment Ubuntu has more ¨big¨ pieces of software then Android that would make use of every scrap you give it. Its pointless too have more power if all you have at the end of the day is phone-app type stuff.
I completely agree in a few years Android might have some more ¨big¨ apps that will use that power, but at the moment its rather redundant...and in a few years wouldnt there be better hardware?
Plus, theres just more potential to do stuff with Ubuntu at the moment vs Android. Android, like iOS, is still primarily a media consumption platform in terms of whats avaliable. I want to code, hack and make stuff - maybe make stuff FOR android, but making stuff ON Android is currently still ¨proof of concept¨ ¨ experimental ¨ and at the end of the day awkward!
Did I say there weren't comparable products out there +Roelf Renkema? Beagleboard, Fit PC, Cotton Candy etc. I am very well aware of the market, so please don't make assumptions of my knowledge. Please point me in the direction of a sub $50 product with the spec that of the Pi that was channelled for release 3 months back? As mentioned above if they don't ramp up production they will lose this march they have. I'll concede I have a UK centric point of view, but the 'enormous amount of noise' that Eben has produced has made people sit up in the UK especially in relation to how our IT is taught in schools. This was it's original target market.
I´m biased as I have always been into graphics programming so I will ask again. Does Ubuntu have anything close to RenderScript +Thomas Wrobel ?
If kids have to learn programming wouldn´t RenderScript be great for games, immersive stuff, augmented reality etc if they just add a camera.
I don´t know why it´s relevant that people mostly wrote ´phone apps´ for it. Is a ´phone app´ not an excellent application to play around with all sensor info you can get from your hobby PC?
This little dongle ships with an external accelerometer and NFC, an extremely fast CPU and a good GPU. You can strip the thing down and have a tablet in the making as you can connect a LVS LCD from an old laptop. A fun project.
+Max Huijgen It isnt, but as I understand it renderscript is for optimised realtime graphics on one device. I was interested in a cheap cluster of distributed rendering for prerendered graphics. Commercially it would be something like Backburner for 3dsmax running a framesever, or of course Pixars Renderman. I really dont think theres any open source equilivants that mature on any platform as yet. Something like Renderscript could be part of a solution - but it would take a lot more as well.
Theres currently a lot more 3d software on linux then Android too, remember. Its got a big headstart.

Blender, for example, can already do network rendering over ubuntu systems on a network.
With some hacking, you can also get Maya to do the same.

Neither really optimized or ideal for the PI - the node software itself likely too heavy to give much left for the rendering.
But still, if PIs and other devices like it get popular it wouldnt supprise me at all too see software pop up for linux for mini usb render farms

Of course, eventualy this will happen to droid devices too.....if they get popular enough amongst the tinkerers
Ah, +Thomas Wrobel misunderstanding. I want to have kids get the maximum graphics performance out of a GPU.
+Roelf Renkema I didn´t doubt there are lots of 3D libs for Ubuntu, but I wondered if anything came close to the almost bare metal performance of RenderScript.
if you want to have a new generation get into programming they will expect to see something close to PC graphics on dedicated GPU´s. That´s their reference for gaming.
An OMAP4 like in the above HDMI dongle has a PowerVR SGX540 which is not too bad, but you´ll need to extract maximumum performance. What does Ubuntu has to offer there?
Hi +Roelf Renkema I´m not particularly interested in OS´ses. Most of them do the job anyway, but IDE´s and for me graphic libs are much more important in my opinion. If we are talking about a new generation and there is Renderscript and a rich environment for Android development why not go with it, unless another OS offers something much better.
For your average teenager developing new stuff on a small droid machine will be more fun as it will be easy to port the stuff to phones and tablets. A natural environment.
Egypt offscreen 720p benchmark for the VideoCore IV (raspberry GPU) about 600.
For the OMAP 4 GPU: 2500 or more
(PowerVR SGX540 at conservative clock) +Dan Dart
Cool idea. Hate controller though. Make it compatible with Kinect and I am sold.
I share almost all of your criticism of the way, Eben and the Raspberry Pi Foundation executed the project +Roelf Renkema. The exaggerations of the project leaders fired back and the release was/is a huge mess. Nevertheless, I see the Raspberry Pi as an affordable alternative to boards like the Beagle and the low price will help me a lot in supplying kids for my programming courses.

Of course, open systems with serious graphic capabilities would be a great step in the right direction +Max Huijgen. Did you ever teach children programming with 3d? I never tried because my background is in distributed systems and I have almost zero knowledge about 3d programming but I guess kids would be fascinated by 3d.

The bundled remote control with a built in accelerometer is incredible.
The only experience in teaching 3D to a child is my son. I used a Basic dialect which if I recall correctly was Dark Basic. Whatever the name it grabbed his attention immediately. 3D appeals to kids and they are good at it as they have less problems than adults in converting to and fro real world coordinates.
Although I fully agree that 3D graphics programming would give great visual feedback, I don't really understand why one needs a framework that pushes the hardware to the fullest to fulfill that. There is a huge gap between cool/useful in terms of learning and what you can achieve when using the hardware to its full potential. The latter typically involves a lot of work in terms of content and other things (like optimization) and will not normally be part of what one considers "fun".

Anyway, to start learning to program, I think there's a bunch of other things that are more effective, including Arduino hardware with the wire programming language. There's also many game frameworks where you can easily create small games with some scripting. And there is of course LEGO Mindstorms, but it is a bit on the expensive side, and kids here get to play with them at school.

My son is 8, and I think that he may be ready for some programming soon. I'm thinking that for him, Arduino with some LED matrix shell will be an excellent starting point. Graphics are cool, but hardware is better.
RenderScripts hides the metal very well +Lars Ivar Igesund and my argument was that kids expect graphics to be state of the art as they have been exposed to pc´s.
The arduino is no match for this HDMI dongle.
+Max Huijgen Matter of opinion and background, I think :)

My point is that even if you're using something as RenderScript, getting good looking graphics isn't easy. I'm an experienced programmer, but I still make engineering graphics - that is, butt ugly stuff (that works). Prettyfying I let others do.

I think kids capable of learning to program are well beyond thinking that they will make Uncharted 4 in their first attempt at compiling a program. My son is in no way into playing games for their graphics. I'm thinking that those that are, are not those most likely to program.

I haven't taught 3D programming, but I have taught programming in general (to students), and I'm living with a with a teacher, so I don't think I'm entirely off the mark.
Good looking graphics are difficult in 2D +Lars Ivar Igesund but 3D makes it fun for kids. Trust me on that one. Lego is popular and it´s not that good looking either :)
Man, +Roelf Renkema I will never forget the excitement when a nude was printed by the mainframe line printer. A pin registered pin-up.
My first program on the ZX-81 was hangman: animated pixel art :)
Well, the US isn´t into small hackable devices so we will just continue our discussion in Europe. After all the founding father of Always Innovating is a Frenchmen.
<--- US. Believe me there are tons of enthusiasts here.
Meh, we're hard working people who relax on Sunday :)
+Roelf Renkema that's a good point regarding those shipped from across the pond. If I'm going to spend that I might as well get one of the numerous plug computers.
+Max Huijgen Yes, true, but I'm looking for an Android Media PC where I can have the full Android experience on my Stereo and on my TV. I want to connect Spotify to my stereo and be able to see my movies on my TV, and also stream other internet content from other Android apps. You could do this using a table yes, but you need an HDMI output at least and at least one USB input and the screen is more or less useless, so why pay for it? Do you have any other recommendation that might work?
+Max Huijgen Yes and then I'll have an extra tablet in my house which always could be handy. The only thing I can see is the RAM. 256MB looks a little low to me for good 720p video playback. You can order these tablets over the net?
+Max Huijgen Do you know if you can get these tablets in Europe? I only found one internet retailer and it is India only.
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