Need to Know – Raspberry Pi

What's all the fuss about this £22 programmable pocket computer? Here's five reasons you need one

The Raspberry Pi project wants to get people fiddling around with the basic components behind computers again – and it's proving to be a hit, with stocks selling out within hours of it going on sale. Want to get your geek on with some home-schooling? Here's what you get for your cash.

Raspberry Pi – programming school

The main Raspberry Pi model is a single-board computer with a 700MHz (ARM based) processor, 256MB of RAM, two USB ports, Ethernet connection, HDMI output and SD card support. Phew. We know. To save some money, you could also hold out for Model A which foregoes the Ethernet connection and one USB port and downgrades to 128MB of RAM.

Raspberry Pi – open source goodness

It'd be no good tinkering around with Mac OS or Windows – you wouldn't get anywhere – so the Raspberry Pi Foundation chose the open source Linux, stored on an SD card, for the job. If you need some inspiration based on what Linux is capable of, just see our list of what the OS has done for us. Other ideas include using the Raspberry Pi to control your work PC from home via a remote control service or sticking a USB drive in there to get some extra network storage.

Raspberry Pi – AirPlay video streaming

What we really want to try out is setting up the Raspberry Pi to give us an alternative Smart TV set-up. It can handle 1080p video playback so you could make yourself a cheap AirPlay system with your TV and an iPad. The Foundation's default Fedora Remix means you can plug the Raspberry Pi into your box to get a big screen desktop-style web browser.

Raspberry Pi – Best of British

Like the other products showcased in our Best of British themed mag this month (April issue), you'll be smug to know that the Raspberry Pi Foundation is home-grown, with its base of operations in Oxford. And there are plans afoot to bring the cheap mini computers into British schools – so classrooms should be buzzing with young programmers, just like in the days of the BBC Micro. The computer itself was made in China, though. Can't win 'em all.

Raspberry Pi – where to get one

Here's where you might get mad. RS Components and Premier Farnell, the licensed manufacturers, sold out of the Raspberry Pi within hours of its release – so you'll have to be patient while the team gets the next batch together. When they do – grab a Raspberry Pi online here.

You may also like

Game over? EA and Nintendo pull big releases from Game

7.85in iPad Mini coming later in 2012?

Viral of the Week – robot quadrotors play James Bond theme