This week the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced their new Pi Zero. It only costs $5 in the US. Wow! Here are the specs, via the foundation:
- BCM2835 (same as Pi 1) but up-clocked to 1GHz, so 40 percent faster.
- 512MB of RAM
- micro-USB for data
- micro-USB for power
- unpopulated 40-pin GPIO connector (same pinout as A+/B+/2B)
- size: 65mm x 30mm
Think of a class set of 20 for only $100. Sounds amazing. But let's hold on a minute. What else do I need? I wanted one (actually my wife wants one too but we'll share at least initially. So I went to Adafruit (the US outlet) and took a look. Raspberry Pi Zero is not available as an individual thing right now but can be bought with starter packs. They have two offerings:
I went with the budget pack. What does that include beyond the $5 computer?
- Raspberry Pi Zero - the type of low cost game-changing product Raspberry Pi's known for - a super light, super lean microcomputer
- Mini HDMI to HDMI Adapter - Will let you convert the little port on the Zero to a standard sized HDMI jack. You can get 1080P HDMI video + audio out of this little computer!
- USB OTG Cable - Lets you plug in a normal USB device such as WiFi dongle, USB hub, keyboard, mouse, etc into the Zero.
- 8GB Class 10 SD Card - A SD card that's perfect for burning Raspbian Jessie for the Pi Zero
- 5V 1A Power Supply & USB A/Micro B Cable - the best way to power up your Pi Zero with a stable 5V power supply that wont vary or sag.
- 2x20 Male header strip - Solder this in to plug in Pi HATs, GPIO cables, etc as you would into a normal Pi. (We also have a 2x20 Female and 2x20 Female right-angle style for more exotic connecting)
Yeah I probably need all that. I also added a wi-fi dongle. With shipping I spent $50 which is still pretty inexpensive but it’s not $5. Of course I need a monitor and a keyboard and mouse to really do any development on it. I have some of them around but not everyone does.
So now we are talking about a class set of 20 for $1000 which is more than $100 but I can remember when one Apple IIe was $2,500 so pretty cool.
I don’t really see it as a replacement for a desktop or laptop though. At least not realistically. It’s still pretty limited in today’s world. What I would like to do is use it or something like it for learning about the Internet of Things. Add some sensors, some controllers of some sort, and have some of these for a Maker Space and who knows what will happen. There is potential there. I can’t wait to get mine and start playing.