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

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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.

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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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