This Kit Lets You Build A Functioning Laptop Out Of A Raspberry Pi

Illustration for article titled This Kit Lets You Build A Functioning Laptop Out Of A Raspberry Pi

The list of cool stuff you can do with a Raspberry Pi is pretty much endless (no seriously — Wi-Fi controlled pottery kiln!), but most of the existing designs for portable Pi-ing require a little electronics know-how (and a dash of soldering).

The pi-top is an all-in-one kit designed to let you build a laptop out of a Raspberry Pi at home. At $300 (including a Pi 2), it’s actually around the same price as a cheapo Windows or Chrome machine — but unlike those, the idea of pi-top is to be a playground for wannabe computer engineers and designers. The idea started on Indiegogo, and following a successful campaign, the product is up for pre-order, and should be ready to ship in June.

Illustration for article titled This Kit Lets You Build A Functioning Laptop Out Of A Raspberry Pi
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All the components needed ship unassembled, so the first learning step is assembling the chassis, micro-computer, screen and power supply to create a functioning computer. Then, you’ve got to learn how to make the most out of the limited resources on the Raspberry Pi itself. The hope is that, with easy access to the electronics inside the pi-top, people will be encouraged to mod and improve on the original design.

Given that the founding philosophy behind the Raspberry Pi was to make a tiny, affordable computer to teach kids, I think the pi-top sticks impressively close to the creators’ ideals. Teaching yourself about programming on the internet has never been easier — sites like CodeAcademy spoonfeed manageable lessons to you for free — but there’s nothing quite so simple for hardware modders. Hopefully, pi-top can do something about that. [pi-top]


Contact the author at chris@gizmodo.com.

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DISCUSSION

Im a developer and have always built my own PC’s, but have never really understood the appeal of the Raspberry Pi - even for learning. I’ve set one up and tinkered with it, it doesnt really impress me in any way.

I pick up my iPhone 6 next to it and think about what a marvel it is - as a computer, its light years ahead of a Pi - in terms of raw computing power, I/O, interface, networking, even has its own ultra-mobile power supply, hi-res display, and one of the most robust and well-supported development platforms imaginable.

And I already have one. And it fits in my pocket.

The Raspberry Pi cannot even run a top-3 *web browser* with what has got to be the most pathetic linux distro available in terms of support.

If you want to know what a pain in the butt building and owning a linux machine was like in 1993, then maybe you could get some value out of the Pi, but I really don’t see any point in that today, having been through it.

In todays tech world, you want to be leveraging the highest levels of technology towards new solutions, not challenging yourself to find value in tying one hand behind your back with limited hardware and software.

Its not a value in any way - people are deceived by its core price, and only later realize they must purchase all the other parts to make it a working computer. By the time you’ve done that, you start to drool over the comparative value of a bargain-basement discount laptop.