I’m Diggin’ This ‘lil Box

Article and more pics here

I bought one of these Raspberry Pi 400 computer in a keyboard devices a couple weeks ago. I normally would not write about such a device but it’s $70 and is good enough (as in adequate) for a desktop replacement. To be fair you need a mouse, Micro SD card, power supply, some kind of HDMI monitor and a cable between keyboard and monitor to get it running. They have a starter kit that includes everything but monitor AND includes a book for $100. Many of us have a few old LED monitors laying around.

It’s features include the ability to run 2 monitors, built in keyboard, fan-less completely silent operation, 2 usb 3 ports, 1 usb 2 port, an Ethernet port, WiFi and Bluetooth. The O/S is burned to a $5 Micro SD card. It is possible to add a USB SSD drive to boot from which increases speed. The operating system is a variant of Linux called 32 bit Raspberry O/S well maintained, updated regularly and has available tons of free downloadable programs. The software can be upgraded by adding 3 lines to a txt file for slightly improved performance, and then you too can call yourself a hacker.

I have a Microsoft Outlook 365 account which includes web based access to the office suite of programs like Word, Excel, Outlook, Power Point, Calendar, ToDo plus access to One-drive online storage or Google-Drive. This makes the computer usable as a dorm room, summer cottage kind of device, where real work can be accomplished. It can be set up for some gaming but I don’t play games so I don’t know how well games work. It is completely adequate for financial tracking, brokerage and banking. If you don’t have an office account there is a complete perfectly adequate office suite built into the O/S, but I like Word and Excel and Power Point so all of my files are readily available for editing as I like using 365 and One-drive. This blog post was done on the Pi 400. It also has photo editing, audio programs, YOUTUBE, the ability to access my satellite TV, access to my network printers etc. I can run it from a remote desktop control program called VNC from any of my other computers.

Mine has 2 monitors (which were sitting around in boxes), a cheap $12 wireless mouse, and a $30, USB 3, mSata 120GB hard drive I got off Amazon, and a little massaging of the software, and I have a completely usable desktop environment. It’s probably not quite good enough for engineering majors or graphics intensive majors but pretty well good enough for the average college kid or high school kid on a budget.

Pi computes are well know for their programming capability and this one is no exception, with a complete compliment of programming software built into the O/S. Once set up, it’s been 100% reliable. At max load it uses only 6 watts of power and at idle it uses 0 watts of power. You can install other flavors of Linux for free but I find the Raspberry Pi O/S works fine. Every time you install a new O/S it requires initialization of various accounts like email etc, so if it ain’t broke…. Did I say it’s plug and play at $100 plus an old HDMI monitor or TV?

2 Replies to “I’m Diggin’ This ‘lil Box”

  1. Awesome.
    This reminds me of when I built my first computer as a teen. I considered the Raspberry Pi but was waiting until they became more functional and mainstream. Sounds like it’s time for me to jump in.

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