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Five alternatives to Raspberry Pi

Tired of waiting for Raspberry Pi? With delay after delay, and no fixed release date in sight, maybe it’s time to look for an alternative

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is no doubt a very exciting device, with an unmatched ratio of size, power, and value. However, after months of delays and false starts ranging from manufacturing problems to certification issues, the open source wonder board hasn’t actually been delivered to those who have bought it, or would love to buy it.

All is not lost though, as there are several alternatives available that might just pique your interest.

BeagleBoard

The BeagleBoard-xM and the BeagleBone are two very small single-board computers with two very different specs. The BeagleBoard-xM is a bit more powerful than the Pi, with a 1 GHz Cortex-A8 CPU, 512 MB of RAM, and more input and output ports than you have fingers. It’s still low power, and has support for more modern operating systems than the Raspberry Pi due to the newer ARM chipset.

A BeagleBoard-xM (right) attached to the Flyswatter open source hardware debugger (left)

The BeagleBone is a much more reserved build, comparable to the Raspberry Pi, but still running on a 720 MHz Cortex A8. It also has a couple of 46-pin expansion connectors.

Prices are of course a little steeper than the Raspberry Pi, with the BeagleBone coming in at $89 and the BeagleBoard-xM at $149

PandaBoard

The PandaBoard ES is a miniature powerhouse. A dual-core Cortex A9 CPU is flanked by 1GB of RAM, and can output 1080p from either its HDMI or DVI Out ports. It comes with a LAN port, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a ton of expansion connectors.

PandaBoard Raspberry Pi Alternative
The PandaBoard is an awesome piece of kit

For this amount of power you’ll be paying a more premium price though – A PandaBoard ES will set you back $182.

Cotton Candy

If you’re interested in the media capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, then the cstick Cotton Candy from FXI may just be the device you’re looking for. The USB stick sized system is an absolute beast, with a dual core 1.2 GHz Cortex A9 CPU, and a Quad Core Mali-400MP GPU. The stick has two main connectors – a HDMI male port so you can stick it directly into a TV, and a USB 2.0 A port to connect mass storage devices and provide power.

Cotton Candy Raspberry Pi Alternative
The Cotton Candy packs a lot of power into a small area

The Cotton Candy comes with stock Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, as well as Ubuntu for ARM. It comes with built in support for all major media codecs so you can start watching media straight away, even over the network with its 802.11n wireless support.

The Cotton Candy is beginning to roll out for $199.

Ninja Blocks

We recently reported on the ability to place your pre-order for the Ninja Blocks now, the Kickstarter backed “Internet of Things”. Unlike Raspberry Pi, the device is actually already making its way to the projects backers.

Ninja Block Raspberry Pi Alternative
Ninja Block is an Internet of Things

The Ninja Block is a simple to use, open-hardware block that can use internet based inputs and a series of external sensors that measure temperature, light, and sound to activate lights, relays, and other actuators. Using a cloud based coding service, users can create simple code to accomplish these tasks.

Ninja Blocks start from $155 AUD

Android Phone

With a large range of devices with varying degrees of power, size, inputs, and outputs, the more dedicated hacker can use these self-powered mobile devices to drive almost anything. Stock Android even has some degree of Arduino compatibility, and a custom ROM will open up the OS even further.

Android Phone Tablet
Android devices can be used as portable, small, computers

Prices for Android phones and tablets vary, wildly

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