Raspberry Pi – Competitors ahoy!

Raspberry Pi Model B

The past 6 months have been crazy for the Raspberry Pi guys. They finally got to the point where they could provide end users the possibility of owning their own micro-PC and boy did people respond. It’s said that over 2 million people have expressed their interest in ordering / pre-ordering one of the tiny machines and it’s easy to see why. The Raspberry Pi micro-PC consists of a single, credit card sized motherboard with everything integrated and ready to go, although there are 2 models with slight specification differences. Model B comes in at $35USD and comes with the following:

256MB of RAM (shared with the GPU)
2 USB 2.0 ports
HDMI Output (Resolutions up to 1920×1200 available!)
3.5mm Audio Jacks
SD / MMC / SDIO card slot
10/100mbit Ethernet Port

All of these are impressive features for such a tiny board and the modest price of $35. There is a Model A that ships at $25USD, it has all of the same specs with the exception of it only having 1 USB port and no ethernet port. Uptake has been huge and multiple sites fell at their knees when the orders were opened to the public, causing a stir among the tech community as everyone wanted to get their hands on one of the first!

Let’s move on to the competition though, competition’s healthy, right? You’d hope so! There are now a few competitors for Raspberry Pi to battle with and one of these is the Via APC. This will be shipping at $49USD, so it’s slightly more expensive than the Pi, however with this you get 2GB of onboard flash memory to boot from (as opposed to Pi’s method of providing an external SD card to boot from and provide storage). There’s one major difference with this (and the Rikomagic model that I’ve listed below) and the Raspberry Pi though and that is that the Via APC runs Google’s Android OS as opposed to running a straight up Linux distribution. Some may see this as an issue if they wish to run their own software and treat it moreso as a PC, but with the wealth of software available for the OS already, most users will be able to do exactly what they want with the APC and that may be more appealing to novice users.

Rikomagic MK802

The other Android based competitor that’s gaining some momentum is the Rikomagic MK802 that’s actually only slightly larger than a USB pen drive and interestingly, it’s the only one of the 3 that is enclosed as opposed to a bare motherboard. It’s over twice the price of the Pi Model B, however it also comes with a couple of additional features which no doubt drove the costs up. The Rikomagic model comes with 4GB of flash memory as standard, although up to 32GB is available in higher models. There’s also the added bonus of having onboard wireless connectivity which will no doubt interest users wanting to have it hooked up to a TV in their living room as you won’t need to hide any pesky wires to get yourself internet connectivity. It’s also based on the newer Android 4.0 OS which provides users with a fast and pleasant experience in addition to the multitude of apps and software that’s available for Android as mentioned before.

Raspberry Pi may well hang in there and stay at the top based on it being there relatively early, its lower price and the general love for it by the Linux and programming community. These new guys to the market offer an alternative however, and this may be appealing to some users that aren’t too confident with going straight in to a Linux OS. Competition is heating up, who will come out on top?