C.H.I.P. (photo via Make)
To all the maker enthusiasts out there: Do you dig the Raspberry Pi, but want something that's miraculously even cheaper? Your wish looks to be granted with the launch of the Kickstarter campaign for C.H.I.P.
Created by Next Thing, the company that successfully raised US$71,559 a year ago for Otto, a hackable GIF camera, the C.H.I.P. is an open-source computer board that can be yours for the small price of US$9. Yes, nine dollars. No, it doesn't appear to be a fraud. (And the video embedded below is pretty great.)
According to Make, Next Thing teamed with Chinese semiconductor maker Allwinner to use a smaller version of its A13 tablet processor in the board. By buying in large quantities, Next Thing is able to offer the bare-bones version of the board for just US$9. And it sounds solidly capable, offering a 1Ghz processor, 512MB RAM, and 4GB of storage.
It connects over Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, and has built-in composite output, with adaptors available for VGA and HDMI. You can also get a portable battery, and the prices for these accessories are likewise cheap: the C.H.I.P. and battery together are offered for US$19 via Kickstarter.
But in our eyes, the coolest part of the project is not this amazingly inexpensive board, but rather the PocketC.H.I.P., which looks like a hacked-together graphing calculator (or a homemade Game Boy) that you can plug the C.H.I.P. into. It has a 4.3in touchscreen (470x272, resistive touch), QWERTY keyboard, and a 3,000mAh battery - and it's available for US$49 with the C.H.I.P. included.
C.H.I.P. can be used for productivity (it has a pretty standard-looking desktop screen), web surfing, music making, playing games, and all sorts of stuff using a wide array of open-source apps, and it's built to enable your own creative wishes. It's not meant for the average consumer, but anyone with technical knowhow and an imagination can surely see the possibilities here.
The Kickstarter has 28 days left and has already smashed its US$50,000 goal, just passing US$233,000 as of this writing. Deliveries for the $9 board are slated to begin in December, with the PocketC.H.I.P. and various accessories not shipping until next May.