Raspberry Pi review

Gareth Halfacree finds out whether the £29 credit-card sized board with a 700MHz CPU and 256MB RAM can be used as an everyday PC.

Conclusion

The Pi is a marvel. There's nothing else on the planet which offers the same capabilities for an equal price. In terms of bang-for-your-buck, the Pi is nothing short of astounding - but this doesn't make it perfect.

Raspberry Pi

The hardware may limited some users, but the Pi will still be very useful considering the price

The 256MB of RAM could prove limiting for some users, especially those hoping to use the VideoCore IV GPU for high-definition 3D rendering. The beta-level quality of the software could also prove awkward for end-users who perhaps thought they were buying something which would be ready to use out-of-the-box.

Professional users may also be disappointed by the Pi thanks to a lack of JTAG debugging support. A common feature of rival development boards, it's easy to overlook its absence thanks to the Pi's price - some one-quarter to one-tenth of its rivals - but something which may still slow down professional adoption of the device.

Despite its limitations, we're happy recommend the Pi, as soon as pre-orders are satisfied and stock starts to appear in the channel, of course. For less than the cost of a new-release game, you get a device which although imperfect - has so much potential. It's hard to imagine why anyone with an interest in technology wouldn't buy one.

ITPRO Recommended award

Verdict

The Pi promises much - but the software isn't there yet so end-users hoping to get going with their new Pis straight out of the box could face a problem. Improved software is on the horizon, and developers from user-friendly and lightweight distributions like Puppy Linux are already working to get their systems up and running on the devices.

Chipset: Broadcom BCM2835 SoC with 700MHz clock speed Operating system: Linux RAM: 256MB Storage: SD card Connections: 2x USB ports, 1x Ethernet port, 1x HDMI, 1x Audio jack, 1x microUSB power supply

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