Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

And the next uber-cheap computer is…

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 8, 2016

Pine64Okay, the Raspberry Pi Zero at $5 is pretty dang amazing. Phenomenal, really.  Its more powerful siblings are also pretty impressive. They made waves.

So of course… it’s competition time! Well, more competition.

Next out of the gate is the PINE 64, now in a crowdfunding & manufacturing phase. While the release of the Pi Zero at the $5 price point may have stolen some of its thunder, it is really aiming at being more powerful system than the Raspberry Pi… and yet it still comes in at a lower price than the the other Raspberry Pi models. It’s a 64-bit quad-core 1.2 ghz machine with a dual-core graphics processor and 4K HDMI output. Once upon a time, this would have sounded like a dream game console (its graphics capabilities are supposed to be – theoretically – slightly higher than the level of the original XBox). It runs Linux and Android.

They even captured a little bit of the low-price high ground (that’s kind of a mixed metaphor, isn’t it?) by offering a very limited run of $5 models without an Ethernet port, which are very, very sold out and probably won’t be coming back.

Okay, it sounds really cool to me… a powerful competitor for the Pi, at a ridiculous price. A great hobby system. But… there are more questions. What kind of support will it get? Even if it beats out the Raspberry Pi on specs, will it really be able to compete? Are there really a lot of projects for the uber-low-end computer where people were limited by a lack of horsepower?

At $15 ($19 for the A64+), it’s not exactly a high-risk gamble for the buyer, and should be a contender even if its extra horsepower isn’t necessary. With Android or Linux and standard interfaces, it should be pretty compatible with plenty of hardware and software. But it’s not a consumer-level system (so much for my dreams of treating this like a gaming platform!). It’s a Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

Ultimately, it comes down to a question for me: what would I personally *DO* with it? It’s got all kinds of cool factor, but it’s still kind of a solution in search of a problem. But for hobbyists who want cheap and expendable “brains” for a project, this should be more than capable enough.

Anyway – it’s interesting, blew well past its funding goal, and I thought people might be interested. And I may end up grabbing one and … doing something with it. Probably involving games.

If you are interested, you can check it out here:

PINE A64 Kickstarter Campaign

Pine64 official website

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