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Android Hardware Linux

Raspberry Pi vs. Cheap Android Dongle: Embarrassment of (Cheap) Riches 233

Posted by timothy
from the fight-fight-fight dept.
New submitter Copper Nikus writes "The price of Android Mini PCs have recently dropped to the point they are starting to make the Raspberry Pi look overpriced. This article compares the Raspberry Pi model B against the similarly priced MK802 II single core Android mini PC. IMO it can be argued that the mini PC wins that fight. It's worth noting that several new quad-core Chinese ARM SoCs have been recently released to the world, and it can be expected to see Android mini PCs start using them in the very near future. This should translate into even lower prices for the now 'obsolete' generations of single and dual core Andoid mini PCs out there." The target markets and base OS vary, but there's enough overlap for this comparison to make some sense — both have ARM chips, both can (to varying degrees) run either Android or a more conventional Linux distro, and both can fit in a small pocket.
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Raspberry Pi vs. Cheap Android Dongle: Embarrassment of (Cheap) Riches

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  • My god (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    who cares... Everything that needed a computer now has one, this is just toys for toys' sake.
  • by DECula (6113) * on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:30AM (#42403885) Homepage

        you are missing a critical point. break out the IO on the USB dongle. Make it turn lights on
        and off. sure, you can slave it to other USB devices, but there is a nice IO header on the
        PI for those who wish to play with it. it's comparing apples to oranges.
        The PI was made with hardware tinkering in mind, the USB dongles - not so much.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      You mean it takes a Pi (as breakout box) to make the mini PC do useful stuff?

      • by dindi (78034) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @01:30PM (#42405247) Homepage

        No, there is an exposed populated header (pins). You can buy a breadboard compatible breakout board that comes with a cable. One version is the cobbler kit http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-pi-cobbler-kit/overview for 7.95.

        You CAN connect 3.3v electronics without this kit (e.g. you can connect an Arduino pro to i2c or serial and double your pins adding PWM, AD inputs and so on.

    • by samkass (174571) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:41AM (#42403977) Homepage Journal

      indeed... from the comparison:

      Expansion Headers
      MK802: N/A
      RPi: Yes. Provide access to GPIO, I2C, SPI, etc DSI (for LCD display) and CSI-2 (for camera) interfaces are also available

      In addition, the MK802 runs the "source available, but developed in secret" Android OS, while the RPi runs the truly open source Debian by default and a zillion other true open source Linux distros with easy download.

      The RPi is for the tinkerer. The MK802 is for someone who wants pre-packaged plastic to do one of a limited number of preordained things.

      • by afidel (530433) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @11:01AM (#42404153)

        limited number of preordained things.

        What ever are you babbling on about? Android is a general purpose OS built on a Linux foundation that can run any code you want to run on it (I run Debian in a chroot environment on my Android phone as just one example). Now I agree that the RPi has a more hardware-hacker friendly design, but that in no way makes the Android device limited to only certain things.

        • by Microlith (54737) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @11:41AM (#42404389)

          That you run Debian in a chroot to get at its power is evidence enough of Android's inherently crippled nature. It runs on the Linux kernel, but shares virtually nothing with the common Linux environment encountered everywhere else. Not surprising, given that Android was proprietary to start then opened to the world. An entirely custom stack that continues to be developed behind closed doors and just results in a duplication of effort.

          But it puts Google entirely in the driver's seat, which is where they want to be.

          • by poetmatt (793785)

            actually, the opposite is true. He just enabled everything he wanted *from* android.

            So no, this is not android being crippled.

          • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @01:08PM (#42405075) Journal

            That you run Debian in a chroot to get at its power is evidence enough of Android's inherently crippled nature.

            Not so fast. The poster you replied to uses chroot to run Debian so he can use the GNU userland. This is necessary because Android uses a different userland. That does not mean Android is crippled - it is just a different open source OS than Linux.

            • by afidel (530433) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @01:25PM (#42405207)

              Exactly, I wanted the GNU/Linux toolset which has only been ported to Android in chunks by people that want certain tools, it was easier to run Debian in chroot and apt-get install whatever I needed than it was to track down the combination of ports needed to get what I wanted (or port them myself). This is in no way an indictment of Android, just that my particular use case was kind of atypical and so the software I wanted hadn't been ported in one package and I was lazy.

              • Exactly, I wanted the GNU/Linux toolset which has only been ported to Android in chunks by people that want certain tools, it was easier to run Debian in chroot and apt-get install whatever I needed than it was to track down the combination of ports needed to get what I wanted (or port them myself). This is in no way an indictment of Android, just that my particular use case was kind of atypical and so the software I wanted hadn't been ported in one package and I was lazy.

                Indeed. One could argue that it's actually a strength of the OS to allow you to run Debian that way.

                Anyway, Android is opensource, so anyone can make anything they want with it - and some do, like Amazon. That means the OS isn't crippled at all in any way or form.

          • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @04:12PM (#42406409)

            That you run Debian in a chroot to get at its power is evidence enough of Android's inherently crippled nature. It runs on the Linux kernel, but shares virtually nothing with the common Linux environment encountered everywhere else. Not surprising, given that Android was proprietary to start then opened to the world. An entirely custom stack that continues to be developed behind closed doors and just results in a duplication of effort.

            Your post makes no sense. The fact that you can install a Debian build on an Android device (just did it myself yesterday) means that Android is... crippled? You must be using some definition of crippled I haven't heard of before. Yes, Android has a non-GNU userland. What's your point? That anything that deviates from the 40-year-old UNIX way of thinking is inherently immoral?

        • by DrYak (748999) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @02:19PM (#42405609) Homepage

          What ever are you babbling on about? Android is a general purpose OS built on a Linux foundation that can run any code you want to run on it

          This is one of the few cases where RMS's rambling about GNU and how distros should be called "GNU/Linux" actually makes sense.

          LINUX is only a KERNEL.
          As in the stuff that directly talks to your hardware and handles low-level stuff.

          Above this kernel, you need a "userland" actual regular programs which are called.
          And Android DOES NOT use the same GNU userland as most distributions.
          Whereas regular distribution are "GNU/Linux" (i.e.: runs the Linux kernel and a bunch of userland program, lots from the GNU project [for low-level stuff like C library, shell, etc.], but quite a lots of other stuff [KDE, Firefox, LibreOffice.org]) and are fully POSIX compatible and can run almost any general purpose UNIX software out of the box (as long it was compiled for it), Android is Linux kernel + a very special userland made by Google (among which the most well known part is the Dalvik java-like environment. Even the C library is Google's own Bionic instead of the usual glibc, ulibc and other forks).
          Out-of-the box, Android doesn't run most Unix software because several parts are missing.

          (This is different from other mobile OS: Maemo/Meego/whatever-the-nom-du-jour-is, OpenMoko's SHR, Palm/HP WebOS, etc. all run a normal GNU/Linux stack, although in WebOS case, it uses a non standard gui instead of X.
          Even router provide a unix like environment, only using more light-wieght embed-friendly components like Busyboy and ulibc or eglibc and without a graphic interface at all)

          Again, the usual user-land, the "GNU/" part of "GNU/Linux" is missing.

          (I run Debian in a chroot environment on my Android phone as just one example).

          That's what your compensating by running a Debian chroot. You provide the missing userland.

          You share the same kernel (Linux), but run a different set of userland programs on it. You provied a C library (I think Debian moved to eglibc ?) a shell, and hundreds of other part that make the userland environment. You provide back the "GNU/" part of "GNU/Linux".
          And now, thanks to all the pieces provided by your chroot, you can run any Unix code.

          Now, indeed, this is possible because Android uses the Linux kernel as a foundation, and its opensource make it possible to port a Debian userland to Android and run it along the normal system. So in a way you're right.

          But I insist, Android is unlike any other GNU/Linux distribution around. (And until recently, it needed some special kernel functions that weren't in stock kernels).

          This is unlike other Linux based mobile device, which already are based mostly on these pieces. You don't need to provide them. You can already run most of what you want on Maemo/Meego, OpenMoko, webOS based device (except for the part of webOS lacking X out of the box).

          Out of the box, an Android machine is designed to run the default apps packaged with it and to fetch special android-apps from a special app market.

          Now, thank to the general openness of the platform, it is possible to repurpose it, but out of the box, this is not your regular Unix-like OS. You need to install a chroot, or at least a lot of userland components.

          And that's what the parent was referring to:
          - Android stick : runs android, designed to run a few android apps (but you can do more if you want).
          - RPi : runs a GNU/Linux disto, designed to pretty much do anything you want out of the box.

          but that in no way makes the Android device limited to only certain things.

          Android makes the device limited to run only Android apps out-of-the-box, unless you go out of the way and install the missing userland bit to turn it into a full Unix-like box.
          But thanks to the open nature of the Linux kernel, this is actually possible. (It's not a locked down device that needs to be hacked)

          Android and the classic Unix-like userland (of debian) are completely orthogonal one to another.

          • Your points arent generally wrong, but I disagree with your opinions, like that Android isnt "Unix-like". You can make kiosk or appliance style *nix distros, and they are in fact common: OpenFiler, pfSense, a LOT of NAS boxes out there, etc. Some of them it is easy to get to the "unix" part of them (pfsense, etc); others it is very difficult (many NAS boxes). That doesnt make them "fake NASes", any more than a Windows box set to hide explorer and launch a locked down firefox is "fake Windows".

            Android wa

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:37PM (#42404817) Homepage Journal

        indeed... from the comparison:

        Expansion Headers
        MK802: N/A
        RPi: Yes. Provide access to GPIO, I2C, SPI, etc DSI (for LCD display) and CSI-2 (for camera) interfaces are also available

        In addition, the MK802 runs the "source available, but developed in secret" Android OS, while the RPi runs the truly open source Debian by default and a zillion other true open source Linux distros with easy download.

        The RPi is for the tinkerer. The MK802 is for someone who wants pre-packaged plastic to do one of a limited number of preordained things.

        Let's be honest though; unless you are talented and/or have a lot of time on your hands, Debian and other Linuxes are filled with nothing but "preordained things" on them as well. If you are indeed talented or are so inclined, you probably are going for the Pi or a similar setup (since you don't really "need" something small to play around with) and GPIO is the only other dividing line here; if you need it then the raspberry pi is clearly for you. If you don't, then it is a toss up with vastly more powerful "toys" (a quick search reveals dual core 1.6ghz with 1g ram, gpu accel, etc) on the Android side. If you are interested in the Pi for it's media or more desktop-like functionality, you are well off to investigate the Android options instead as they are VERY capable and packaged very nicely (the units often come in a small chassis with enough cables to hide completely out of sight behind a TV.)

      • by makomk (752139)

        In addition, the MK802 runs the "source available, but developed in secret" Android OS, while the RPi runs the truly open source Debian by default and a zillion other true open source Linux distros with easy download.

        That's not quite right. The standard option for RPi these days is Raspbian, which is actually a clone of Debian developed and maintained by Raspberry Pi users. So you don't have the support of al the actual Debian infrastructure like their package archives, download mirrors, etc. Meanwhile the MK802 can run either Ubuntu or Debian (or various other OSes). You need a custom kernel just like on the Pi but nearly everything else is standard Debian/Ubuntu. (Ubuntu can't actually run on the Pi at all because the

      • by NemosomeN (670035)
        The RaspberryPi doesn't run anything by default, as it comes with no storage.
    • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:42AM (#42403985)
      You're right. The words "cheap" and "Chinese" are sort of red flags that maybe you won't find such nice USB headers and will have power distribution problems or noise on the audio ports or heat issues or bad liquid capacitors or any variety of cheap hardware problems.
      • You're right. The words "cheap" and "Chinese" are sort of red flags that maybe you won't find such nice USB headers and will have power distribution problems or noise on the audio ports or heat issues or bad liquid capacitors or any variety of cheap hardware problems.

        While you're technically correct today - on the other hand, a $50 dual core computer on a stick isn't a bad value proposition. Would you really want to put a $200 usb-sized computer through the wash by accident? Or take it travelling and have it filled with sand?

        Also, I'm old enough to remember when "made in japan" was synonymous with the same sorts of quality issues that "made in china" represents today. Now, half my tech items are over-priced and underpowered sony products.

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @11:27AM (#42404297) Journal

          You're right. The words "cheap" and "Chinese" are sort of red flags that maybe you won't find such nice USB headers and will have power distribution problems or noise on the audio ports or heat issues or bad liquid capacitors or any variety of cheap hardware problems.

          While you're technically correct today - on the other hand, a $50 dual core computer on a stick isn't a bad value proposition. Would you really want to put a $200 usb-sized computer through the wash by accident? Or take it travelling and have it filled with sand?

          Also, I'm old enough to remember when "made in japan" was synonymous with the same sorts of quality issues that "made in china" represents today. Now, half my tech items are over-priced and underpowered sony products.

          He's being sarcastic. Raspberry Pi had all the hardware problems he referred to.

          • I am? lol. I've never used, seen, or read reviews on the Pi. Is it bad? For $25 I wondered if maybe some parts were sub-par. I helped modify the design for a custom FPGA miner for a major manufacturer and my main contribution was swapping out the main capacitors with Japanese solid polymer ones because its' like $600 so why the hell not? But trying to duck under a ridiculous dollar amounts usually means you got your components out of Asia's bargain bin, lol.
            Well if they both have problems then screw it
        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:02PM (#42404547) Homepage Journal

          Now, half my tech items are over-priced and underpowered sony products.

          Sony? SONY??? You would buy computer equipment from a company with a history of rooting its paying customers' computers, removing features you already paid for, and storing sensitive customer information in a plain-text internet-facing database?

          There's no fool like an old fool, I guess.

          • Now, half my tech items are over-priced and underpowered sony products.

            Apple? APPLE??? You would buy computer equipment from a company with a history of installing bloatware on its paying customers' computers, removing features you already paid for, planned obsolescence, insane markups on generic hardware, arbitrary restrictions on what you can and can't install on your own hardware, encumbered DRM, refusal to support common standards and storing sensitive customer information in an easily bypassed security system?

            There's no fool like an old fool, I guess.

            ... oh wait. You meant SONY ...

      • So you're saying it's no coincidence the Chinese flag is red?

      • by citizenr (871508)

        You're right. The words "cheap" and "Chinese" are sort of red flags that maybe you won't find such nice USB headers and will have power distribution problems or noise on the audio ports or heat issues or bad liquid capacitors or any variety of cheap hardware problems.

        You just described Rpi problems. Another common one is bad solder joints. All from Farnells Chinese factory.

        • by cbope (130292)

          Only the early Pi's were built in China. The newest models are manufactured in a Sony factory in the UK, and I believe that very few if any are still manufactured in China. In fact, the Pi Foundation has stated numerous times that they wanted the Pi to be manufactured in the UK from the start, but at the time this was impossible when considering the necessary quality and fixed selling price with little margin. Thanks to the Sony deal they are now able to do this.

          I have a first revision Pi from China, and it

    • I hope the Pi is the Apple in this comparison. Orange Pi sounds disgusting.
      • I hope the Pi is the Apple in this comparison. Orange Pi sounds disgusting.

        Well try this!

        Orange Pie
        Ingredients:
        1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
        3 egg yolks, beaten
        1/2 cup white sugar
        2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
        1 tablespoon butter, melted
        1 tablespoon grated orange zest
        1 cup orange juice
        3 egg whites
        6 tablespoons white sugar
        1 large orange, sliced in rounds

        Directions:
        1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (225 degrees C).
        2. In a medium bowl, beat together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Add flour, melted butter, grated orange rind, and

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:50AM (#42404063)

      pi should have been 5v tolerant and not stuck in 3.3v-only i/o mode. yes, condition the lines. oh, the shock and horror! junior hardware *learners* that will probably blow up their pi when they over-volt the gpios.

      also, no mounting screw holes? sheesh. miss the obvious, why don't you.

      I own a set of pi's and the latest update did seem to help fix the elephant usb bug. I think (need to bang on it some more).

      the pi is a good start, but there are things they really missed on. I'd like to see a real effort with all the things they've learned. and I'd like it standard enough so that we can all use it as our new 'engines' in the embedded world.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Early models did not have mounting holes, all the recent models do have mounting holes.

        USB issues have been improved greatly.

        What seems not to be possible is pumping video larger than 640x480 over the USB ports, otherwise, it is apparently working fine.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        There's a couple big things missing with the Pi. Firstly, as you mention, no mounting holes. But also no case. I guess this is fine for some people but I want a case that doesn't cost $15-$20. There are finally some cases that are coming out in the under $10 range, but it took a long time for them to come around. It doesn't come with an SD card, or a power supply. Which is fine, many people have them already, and you probably don't need one. But the Android computer on a stick comes with a power supp
        • there are LOTS of cases. I have 2 styles and they are mostly fine (not designed for 'shields' that would plug into the gpio header, though).

          but there is no mounting holes on the orig pi's and the whole point of an embedded system is to be embedded IN some other chassis. in my case, some audio controller chassis, where I want to glue in an ip-stack (webserver mostly) and have that be part of my audio system. it would be nice to simply add an rj45 to my rear chassis and then have the pi be inside my box, w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by VortexCortex (1117377)

      I never understood the point. Splice a parallel port to a bread board and hook it to any beige box PC that folks are literally giving (or throwing) away. They're better than the Raspberry Pi in every way except size. You can hook a LED (maybe w/ resistor) directly to many of the pins of the parallel port and they light up representing the individual bits. IO doesn't have to be serialized and deserialized, so you don't have to use a RS232 or any other integrated circuit chips. The beige box also suppor

      • by Lluc (703772) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @11:48AM (#42404435)
        Are you serious? The biggest advantages of the Raspberry Pi are the community, size, and power consumption. With your 10-year-old beige box you get none of these -- I'm imagining your beige box is probably a 10 year old Pentium3 or Pentium4 Dell that you pulled out of the dumpster for free. It probably needs a new hard drive, the ~300 Watt power supply might be going out, and it's full of dust. It would run a mainstream (GUI) linux distribution at barely-acceptable levels of performance, and no one in the linux distribution forums would reply to your questions about how to debug problems on ancient hardware.

        Sounds like a great idea to me!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The $25 price point is the whole point. The other examples you refer to from digikey are at least 5 times that expensive, and some 20 times that. Even $100 puts things out of the range of a kid who wants to experiment and who doesn't have a full time job.

        Your point about experimenting with a beige box is well taken, but what a hassle it is to drag one around to where you need it, and it makes having a high voltage main pretty mandatory. What if I want to build something into a go-cart? Do I need to drag aro

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I have done my share of "beige box" PC hardware interface projects, but power consumption, size and noise is pretty important. Also, having a consistent supply of the exact same old PC model is difficult. Differences might not be big, and for simple one-off projects it works, but it's not very elegant.

        I recently connected the door-bell of a store to a Pi using a simple opto-isolation circuit. The Pi is screwed to the wall right next to the old ding-dong door-bell and logs everything. Every five minutes the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Way to completely miss the point. Everyone has been saying for six months the Allwinner A10 would mop the floor with the RaspberryPi. RaspberryPi is out for less than a couple of months and I have already taken delivery of an ARMv7 CubieBoard which has BETTER GPIO than the RaspberryPi for a comparable price and better specs. Give it a couple of months and the Quad-Core SoCs discussed in the article will be on the next "CubieBoard" type indiegogo project and the Allwinner A10 + GPIO will be old news.

      Did I me

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cgimusic (2788705)
      Exactly. I bought the RPi for hardware projects. If all I wanted was a cheap PC I could have just got an old Intel machine off ebay.
  • by cod3r_ (2031620) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:32AM (#42403905)
    RPI served a purpose one way or the other. The faster these things get while staying at a similar price point just means there will be much cooler garage made gadgets and hacks to play with. Until apple buys all the patents up and sues everyone that is.
  • So, when can we cluster a bunch of these nodes together to form a tiny cloud platform? Possible yet?

    • by dmesg0 (1342071)

      Yes, you can run a Beowulf cluster of them!

    • Re:Mini-Cluster (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:53AM (#42404083)

      WHY?

      these aren't compute nodes. not even close. they're not fast on i/o either.

      they're embedded systems. why can't people GET that?

      there are a class of problems that need ip-connectivity (ethernet) and a small footprint and low power, low/no noise. this fits that bill. for code that is larger than controller-size (arduino mega, say) you'd use one of these. for much smaller tasks, the arduino controller class of chips is the better choice.

      embedded, people. not generic host. this is not some compute node. never will be and isn't meant for such things.

      • why? because we can. not because its a good idea, or because there's some potential great end to it, but simply because we can. there is a certain thrill in the accomplishment that transcends any need for a good reason why. and sometimes, just sometimes, "because we can" is the best damn reason ever. other times its utterly f*cking stupid, YMMV.
        • if you enjoy clustering really underpowered nodes, hey, whatever floats your integer....

        • Because by the time you get 5 or 6 of them, they will be absolutely dominated by an equivalent cost AMD 8 core processor. Get 9 or 10 of them and watch it get slaughtered by an Intel i7. And all the while the single-chip solutions have no IP stack or clustering overhead.

      • Why? For me it's a great way to pretend your rented application-on-a-server is more sophisticated than it is.

        Make an app that can run on a wee ARM unit, shove in one or two extras to increase the concurrent user limit and have them back themselves up to two Ethernet-enabled hard-drives. Include an internal mini-router with NAS.

        As the components are so cheap, shove a couple of spare units and devise a suitably pseudo-technical "fix" process that switches out a broken unit for the internal spare, making you

  • I would rather compare to RK3066-based miniPCs. It's a dual-core platform with very good performance and has a number of mini-PCs based on it (MK808, UG808, iMITO etc). Android is a joy to use on this platform, and linux is under development.
    The price is 50-60$ including shipping, which is not a lot more than 35$+shipping

    • by amorsen (7485)

      The price is 50-60$ including shipping, which is not a lot more than 35$+shipping

      Except in the EU where you get raped by the shipping company having to handle import duties. The duties themselves are practically nothing, but the handling fees are nasty.

      • by dmesg0 (1342071)

        Even if you ship by regular registered mail (e.g. by HK post) and not by private companies like DHL/Fedex/UPS?

        • by amorsen (7485)

          Yes, there is no really practical way to avoid that handling fee. You can collude with a friend outside the EU and get lucky sometimes, but that gets expensive in delivery costs.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The price is 50-60$ including shipping, which is not a lot more than 35$+shipping

      Uh, I think your slide rule is bent. 36 is almost half of sixty and it should cost less than five bucks to ship either one. Almost twice as expensive is NOT "not much more".

    • by cez (539085)
      Well, interestingly enough, I have baked 6 pi's for myself and friends and family, mostly making them into XBMC media centers, and I saw an MK808 mini pc stick for a descent price before christmas so grabbed one to compare...

      Just arrived in the mail today, I'm at my office now but intially I must say it is snappy.

      I downloaded and installed XBMC in less then 2 minutes and was streaming cheesy college humor in 3.

      That is to say after 2 random crashes of Jelly Bean (android 4.1) right off the bat... on
      • by cez (539085)
        Woops, slashdot ate my "less than" sign, for anyone who cares. The home NAS setup with ZFS on Linux is killer for under 500 bucks, probably cheaper now since I've built it. ZFS on Linux is the way to go for sure, most cost is the Disks, I'm using 2 green cavalier 3Tb drives (bought an extra just in case but I'm not running any strenuous i/o). Hudson green processor, mini-atx, SSD head, 8 Gb ram all in a HTPC (with hdmi out and XBMC as well) case.....yum.
  • I admit I'm biased but I prefer the Pi over the Android dongles.

    It just seems like there's more of a fun factor in making a Pi-based system than just plugging in a dongle-type system.

    At least with the Pi I get to play with legos

    My Pi system based on the 28 port Manhatten usb adapter
    http://imageshack.us/g/1/9907766/ [imageshack.us]

  • Seriously, all I want is mini computers smaller than a hearing aid battery that can run XBMC with enough power to watch any format/compression from YouTube to BluRay. Is that too much to ask? Of course it's coming, and these systems are a great step towards that (yes I know XMBC runs on rPi), but for now I'm sticking to my hand built full size PC system running XBMC. - HEX
    • There are alpha (and maybe beta) versions of XBMC for Android as well. I'm not sure if they run on this MK802 II or not, but I'm sure that's coming.
    • by mandark1967 (630856) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:46AM (#42404031) Homepage Journal

      My Pi runs XBMC fine and plays my BluRay Rips without stutter with 5.1 Audio. I believe it's limited to 5.1 though...

      • by rikkards (98006)

        Good to hear since coincidently I ordered one and Brown Santa should be dropping it off today (total cost with Shipping from Newark with case, power plug and SD Card was $58).
        Any tips?

        • The Power Supply was the number one problem I read about at the forums when I received mine. Make sure you have a good one.

          -or-

          Find a good powered USB hub and use it to power the Pi. I've used the 7 port MacAlly hub to power my Pi with no problems, as well as the USB 3.0 ports on the Manhattan Mondo Hub. I've also powered my Pi from my Samsung HD LED LCD TV's USB Port without issue for several weeks with no apparent problems.

          If speed is absolutely essential, you may want to install your distro of choice to

    • by Albanach (527650)

      And this seems to be the problem with the USB sticks. When I was searching it looked like you don't get hardware assisted playback with XBMC on them.

      So the article seems to say they're better for media centers, yet the primary media center software wouldn't work well? The reviewer doesn't seem to say they're actually running XBMC or similar on one of the devices. If someone is running it successfully, with workable HD playback over wifi, I'd love to hear about it.

      Most the reviews I saw also mentioned the wi

  • by Richard_J_N (631241) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:44AM (#42404001)

    We just deployed 3x Pi in a warehouse. I have to say, I'm really impressed with them. They are small, robust, and best of all, fanless (our last Mini-Itx died from dust-inhalation). System upgrades are easy - just swap over the SD card.

    Just a couple of gotchas:
    * Overclocking isn't just about heat (I added a heatsink and the CPU runs cool). The jump from 950MHz to 1Ghz is a very steep one (it suddenly bumps up all the other system clocks by a large amount) and this can make it unstable, corrupting the filesystem. 950 seems to be reliable.

    * Power for USB (especially WiFi) is dodgy. Hotplugging a dongle will make the Pi reboot from brownout. It seems to be worse because the "5V" supplies aren't actually 5V. I tested several; surprisingly, the branded Nokia/HTC ones put out about 4.7V, whereas the unbranded ones are nearer 4.9. I suspect that in a USB supply that is really designed to charge a 3.7V LiPo cell, the more energy efficient ones may aim to come in slightly under 5V to reduce waste. Even with the newest model B rev 2, there is still one polyfuse on the input: I shorted this to gain another 10mV.

    Anyway, I really want a Model C, perhaps with a 1.5GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, 4 USB ports, embedded Wifi/bluetooth, and a better power supply.

    • ladyada had some modified 5.1v psu's that she sold for the pi.

      good idea, too. losses in just the cable, alone, can be enough to drop the voltage low enough to cause problems. add a little up front and you fix that problem. really good idea.

      I've seen the usb hotplug reboots. I don't even try anymore. if I need to change usb config, I shut down (like old win95, sheesh) and then change usb connections. not sure if this was psu related or just 'bad usb stack' related.

    • by KiloByte (825081) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:59AM (#42404137)

      So try this one [hardkernel.com]. More than order of magnitude faster than RasPi (4*1.7Ghz overclockable to 2.0 A9 instead of 1*0.7Ghz OCable to 1.0, ancient ARM11). Obviously, $69 for the 1GB 4*1.4Ghz model or $89 for 2GB 4*1.7Ghz is more than RasPi's $35+accessories.

      • by queazocotal (915608) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @09:40PM (#42408377)

        Then there is the elephant in the room.
        The Pi is deeply unexceptional, and rather boring hardware.
        Even the price isn't that special.
        The exceptional bit is that there are a sizeable slice of half a million of them.
        This means that even if 99% of them are sitting on a shelf, you have many thousands of people banging on the hardware, and bugs are at least likely to be found in many cases.

        With most of the alternative boards, you're going to be the only one of a relative few with them.

  • by jonsmirl (114798) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:52AM (#42404079) Homepage

    If you need IO breakout get a $49 Cubieboard, http://cubieboard.org/ [cubieboard.org]

    Same ARM Cortex CPU/RAM/flash/HDMI as the Android sticks plus a 96 pin header including I2C, SPI, SATA, RGB/LVDS, CSI/TS, FM-IN, ADC, CVBS, VGA, SPDIF-OUT, R-TP..

  • by djsmiley (752149) <djsmiley2k@gmail.com> on Thursday December 27, 2012 @10:56AM (#42404115) Homepage Journal

    Connectivity.

    The GPIO pins and everything else. It was never about a super low cost computing platform, its simply shown the manufacturers that such an item would sell like hotcakes, if produced for the low enough price.

  • by LuxuryYacht (229372) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @11:32AM (#42404317) Homepage

    $49 Cubieboard Allwinner A10 + 512M/1GB DDR3 , 4Gb Nand Flash, 10/100M Ethernet, HDMI, 2 USB Host, 1 micro SD slot, 1 SATA, 1 ir, 96 GPIO pins ncluding I2C, SPI, RGB/LVDS, CSI/TS, FM-IN, ADC, CVBS, VGA, SPDIF-OUT, R-TP
    http://cubieboard.org/ [cubieboard.org]

    £40 Allwinner A10 + 1GB RAM, 4Gb NAND, Wifi: 802.11 b/g/n, 3.5mm Earphone Jack, 1x Mini Usb, 1x Hdmi Out, Micro Sd slot,
    http://gooseberry.atspace.co.uk/ [atspace.co.uk]

    $65.00 Allwinner A10 1GB RAM, 4GB NAND, 3.5mm microphone jack, 3.3v TTL 4-pin header, 2 x USB A 2.0, 10/100 Ethernet, Realtek 802.11n WiFi, HDMI up to 1080p, 3.5mm composite AV, 3.5mm component Y/Pb/Pr, SDHC card slot
    https://www.miniand.com/products/Hackberry%20A10%20Developer%20Board [miniand.com]

    $89 Freescale i.MX6 Duallite, 1 GB DDR3, Audio, Optical S/PDI, HDMI, Camera interface, SD Slot, Serial, Expanison header GPIO, USB, USB OTG, GB-LAN, WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth
    http://wandboard.org/ [wandboard.org]

    $89 Exynos4412 1.7Ghz ARM Cortex-A9 Quad Core, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, 2 x High speed USB2.0 Host,HDMI, SD Slot, Headphone jack
    http://www.hardkernel.com/renewal_2011/products/prdt_info.php [hardkernel.com]

  • I know, shades of the past and all that. I haven't seen a Beowulf comment for what seems like years.

    But in this case it could actually be interesting! :)

    So, take one big-a$$ USB hub, plug a whole bunch of the Android dongles into it. Use a Raspberry Pi as the USB router and another one or two Pi as I/O and scheduling processors. Run Beowulf.

    Let me just say IANA HW guy... :P I may have some details missing or wrong... But if I get thing correctly, you can have 127 dongles on one controller. I don't kno

  • At least from the Amazon reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Rikomagic-Generation-Android-Google-Player/dp/B0091UHMHO [amazon.com]

    * Not happy at all with the product and returning it back to HongKong is not worth the time and effort.
    * The only form of support you cant turn to is the forum community, trust me they are frustrated.
    * The only way to turn it on again is by unplugging the usb power cord and connect it again, or turn off/on the tv.
    *Had to return it because it stopped working after two attempts. I think this is a ni

  • If you're looking for something to connect to a TV, the MK802 or MK808 is clearly the winner. If you're looking to make a toy, or run some lights, than Pi is the choice. I have the UG802 and it's very small/powerful for all that it does, but XBMC doesn't support HW decoding yet. Raspberry Pi looks cool, but the specs are lousy compared to the alternative. Another obvious choice that no-one mentioned are used Android Phones. I just upgraded my phone and have a Galaxy S phone no longer being used. Still looki
  • by hattig (47930) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:35PM (#42404803) Journal

    There are a lot of reasons to pick a slower Raspberry Pi rather than one of the dozens of other cheap ARM boards and systems that have become available.

    The primary one is the community that has built up around the device. This means the device is well supported.
    Also the lack of case means you can access the headers - and there are headers to interface to.
    And you can then add your own case, rather than put up with cheap-ass plastic.

    I am sure that there will be a Mk2 RasPi within a year that will fix the CPU performance issue - it's a natural next step.

    We also have to consider that the RasPi is now entirely assembled in the UK, and it's worth supporting local industry (or using it as an example to encourage local assembly of electronics in your own country).

  • by dindi (78034) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @01:42PM (#42405327) Homepage

    I once got an Android phone. I didn't do my research and I expected that I would have a normal Linux with root access, some decent package manager and that I could access most everything from the command line, and of course a graphical interface that has all the things on it. I imagined, that I could dial with a script, read sensors, or do IP over USB and other neat tricks easily just like I do with a linux box. I was so freaking wrong.

    Now we are comparing a USB stick that has this limited crap on it to a full blown Debian server. I go with the Debian for the servers and back to my iPhone that at least has a neat developer tool (yeah, need to pay $100 a year to develop my own utils on the phone .... big deal, Xcode saves me enough time to justify that $100)....
    I by the way run a little java app for automation on the PI. They have arduinos hanging on them doing most of the actual switching/sensing/human IO. It is a perfect architecture because I am allowed to use all the Unix/Linux services that OS has to offer without programming too much micro controllers but taking advantage of both words. I figured that an Arduino with ethernet shield is $70 while the PI is $35. An arduino + pi is $65. A little more juice is used but less coding of basic stuff, more time for logic and you still have a snappy micro controller one i2c or serial pin away.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

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