Best-selling UK computer Raspberry Pi goes mobile
Find out why Raspberry Pi has become the most popular British computer ever, and whether it’s worth upgrading to the new Pi 3 model…
Chances are you may have already heard of Raspberry Pi – the credit-card sized PC that costs around £30.
Now it’s set to become the most popular British computer ever made as the Pi 3 goes on sale – with even more power and customisability than the Pi 1 and 2.
What is Raspberry Pi?
In short – a tiny computer that’s incredibly cheap to buy. It’s essentially a circuit board with ports to connect other devices like a screen and a keyboard, and can be used to build your own custom computer.
But that’s not all – Raspberry Pi is also about educating people and making computer programing more popular. Other cool things Raspberry Pi has been used for include:
- teaching school children to code through the Code Club network
- taking atmospheric readings from the International Space Station – carried out by British astronaut Tim Peake
- training teachers to give lessons on coding and hacking through the Picademy program with Google
The original Raspberry Pi Model B launched in February 2012, and since then 8m of them have been sold, surpassing the Amstrad PCW in sales figures.
Now, to celebrate its 4th birthday, the makers have released the Raspberry Pi 3. It lets you do even more with your machine thanks to a faster processor and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity – all for around £32.
Why is it so cheap? Computer components are much cheaper to buy nowadays – which means the price stays low, despite the Pi 3 being more advanced.
What’s new for Pi 3?
Most significantly, it’s the first Raspberry Pi computer to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – so it can work as a fully functioning PC. With it you can connect to the internet or other wireless devices.
In fact, experts think it’s as powerful as the laptops we were using just a few years ago.
For years people have been using the Pi as a replacement PC or as an embedded computer. Pi 3 will combine both of these things, making it easier for you get set up and start programming your machine.
How? It’ll be much faster thanks to the 64-bit processor, which makes it 50% more powerful than the Pi 2. Other improvements include:
- smoother performance with 1GB RAM
- more ways to build your custom PC – it has a USB, HDMI, Ethernet, composite video cables and a 3.5mm audio jack, as well as a micro-SD card for your devices
- option to use it as a media centre – it has an enhanced graphics chip to play HD video when you connect a screen
Pi 3 as a hub for the IoT
In addition, there’s been a lot of talk about how the Pi 3 could be used as a hub for your Smart home – although this is still some way from being realised.
Its makers hope that in future you’ll be able to use the wireless connection to link your Raspberry Pi with the different Smart devices around your home as a network.
And there’s already a platform to run it on – Microsoft’s new Windows 10 IoT Core operating system for the Pi 3. With it you’ll have loads more customisability features to control your devices than the previous version for Pi 2.
You can see how these work in an example video released by Microsoft. In it, the Pi 3 and Windows IoT Core are used to power a robot wheel – controlled from a tablet that’s been connected to the circuit board.
It’s being sold as part of a package by Microsoft, with a micro-SD card for $50 (around £36) which you can pre order now.