I don’t think there’s a product out there that has captured my imagination as much as the recent announcement of the Raspberry Pi. The product was announced a while ago, but this past Wednesday it was finally available for purchase. The demand was so great that both sites that had the product for sale went down due to overwhelming traffic.
The product itself is not revolutionary, it’s an under-powered 700Mhz ARM processor board, with 256Mb of ram, an ethernet port, a couple of USB ports, an HDMI port, a SD card slot, and an RCA jack (seriously?). What you get is a board… no casing, and you can power it via a mini USB connector. It also comes with a Fedora Linux based distribution for ARM on an SD card.
The revolutionary part of the whole thing is the price. At $35.00, it has made every geek out there turn their heads. Suddenly every little do-it-yourself project that you’d dismissed as being to expensive to carry out comes to mind as a possibility. Quiet media-center boxes, cheap bittorent boxes, printer servers, file servers, routers, home automation boxes, robotic controllers, manufacturing automation and control, weather stations, etc.
It’s basically a tinkerer’s dream come true.
In a world of snazzy (but expensive) portable devices and expensive proprietary solutions for almost any need, it’s refreshing to finally see a completely open product (so open in fact, that you can see and hook up to the guts of the computer itself to customize it to your own project) ready to be tinkered with and ready to be programmed to do your bidding.
iPads, Apple TV’s, iPhones, netbooks, etc. are all fantastic produtcs, but they don’t hold a candle to the excitement that the Raspberry Pi has created in me. I hope I’m not wrong in thinking that this little machine will be a game-changer… making embedded computing available to everyone with $35.00 and little time on their hands.