02 November 2020 22:30
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the Raspberry Pi 400, a compact keyboard with an ARM-based computer built in. Just plug it into a TV or monitor using one of its two micro HDMI ports, insert a microSD card, attach a power cord and mouse, and you've got yourself a basic computer for day-to-day tasks, coding, or media playback. It's available starting today as a standalone machine for $70 or in a bundle including a mouse, power supply, microSD card, HDMI cable, and beginner's guide for $100. That's important when you're selling an affordable computer, and it's especially important when you're selling an accessible device to help children learn to code. "It can sit under your Christmas tree and… if you open your presents at 9 o'clock, by 10 o'clock you can be sitting in front of your television with a computer," Raspberry Pi's founder, Eben Upton, tells me in an interview ahead of the announcement.
"The dream always with Raspberry Pi is to lure people into buying a PC and then trick them into becoming computer programmers" The Raspberry Pi 400's form factor immediately brings to mind early home computers like the BBC Micro or ZX Spectrum, and that's no accident. Although Raspberry Pi's small computers have become a popular tool for hobbyists to do everything from building inexpensive AirPlay receivers to automating smart homes, at their core they're designed as accessible computers to help children learn to code. "The dream always with Raspberry Pi is to lure people into buying a PC and then trick them into becoming computer programmers," Upton says. Aside from its keyboard and form factor, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a very similar computer to last year's Raspberry Pi 4. It's got a slightly faster quad-core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A72 CPU, up from 1.5GHz in the Pi 4, 4GB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. There are a pair of micro HDMI ports that can each output up to 4K / 60Hz, two USB 3.0 ports, and a single USB 2.0 port.
In fact, Upton says that keen-eyed observers would have seen hints about the Pi 400's development hidden inside its standalone keyboard, which has a slightly unnecessary amount of empty space inside it where the Pi 400's computer innards now sit. It's not just children learning to code to whom the company wants to sell Pi 400s. It's supposed to help anyone who needs a computer," Upton says. Interestingly, that also includes businesses, with Upton telling me that the company sees the Raspberry Pi 400 being used as corporate desktop machines or for call center agents. Interestingly, that's one of the reasons why the Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400 have two HDMI outputs, because two monitors is the default for a lot of business users.