Pocket computers, or more specifically the Raspberry Pi In their different models, they are one of the most coveted devices for those who like to create their own teams and achieve designs and developments of adjusted size. If the price is also something that worries them, the different models of Raspberry Pi are certainly one of its most coveted elements. So small that it can be integrated into practically any part (or housing) and with numerous possibilities and ports, it offers many possibilities when it comes to experimenting and playing around.
But as with most devices, one rasp, as it is popularly known, has some other shortcomings. Not even his latest model, the Raspberry Pi 4, gets rid of certain deficiencies. For example, it has many difficulties when working with high definition video, although it supports 4K image. further can’t run windows, and getting it to start and boot from an SSD or hard drive isn’t exactly straightforward.
Therefore, if you have to work with video, you want to use it to give a boost to your robotics projects or you need a minicomputer that works with Windows, yes or yes, you will have to look for other alternatives. Luckily there are other minicomputers with enough features to work with video, stream, work seamlessly with storage drives, and run Windows. In addition, there are them for all budgets. Next we show you five that you can use to unleash your projects and build your own minicomputer without giving up anything.
Rock64: for wired networks
First released in 2017, this minicomputer is intended for use in wired networks, since it has ethernet connectivity but not with a WiFi module. It offers a Gigabit Ethernet connector for this, as well as a secondary connection of 100 Mbps. It also has a eMMC socket, which facilitates the integration into the equipment of a bootable flash memory module. Thanks to it you will have a more reliable startup system than a microSD card.
Its manufacturer is the company Pine64, which offers those who buy this minicomputer the possibility of having supplies and devices at least until the medium term, since for now it has plans to continue manufacturing it until at least 2022. It is also compatible with many Linux distributions, which makes it a device specially designed to function as a router or any other network element that does not need to have a wireless connection. It has a price that part of the $ 24.95 for the model with 1 GB and it goes up to $ 44.95 for the of 4GB of RAM. It can also be purchased with 2 GB RAM by $ 34.95 on the website of its manufacturer.
PocketBeagle: more powerful than Raspberry Pi Zero
Developed by Beagleboard, this minicomputer has a really tight size, although it is more powerful than the first Raspberry Pi model that came on the market. It is a single board computer that is similar in size to a USB memory stick. In this tight space, this minicomputer has a processor ARM-3 Cortex, two microprocessors that operate at the speed of 200 MHz and 512 MB of memory.
The PocketBeagle works with the distribution of Linux Debian 9.9, although other distributions can also be installed. Of course, as with other minicomputers, it also lacks. In this case, it is not video compatible. It has no HDMI output, despite having eight analog inputs and two USB buses. But like all equipment of this type, it has a very specific function: robotics. The Pocket Beagle can be integrated into a robot and controlled via the Internet, remotely. Therefore, if you like robotics and minicomputers, you can get this equipment through the website of its distributor Mouser Electronics by 26.68 euros.
Banana Pi M4: similar to a Raspberry Pi but ready for video
If what you want is a microcomputer that can be used to work with video or to stream, the Banana Pì M64 It will be able to cover practically all your needs. Its design is very similar to that of a Raspberry Pi, but with all the necessary elements to work with video. Among them a M.2 Key E slot, where you can install an SSD storage drive.
It also incorporates several GPIO connectors, what makes this minicomputer compatible with the hardware modules expansion designed for expand a Raspberry Pi, known as Pi Hats. Of course, this mini-computer is a little larger than a Raspberry Pi, so it is not compatible with the cases developed for its different models. This small computer has several options that make it ideal for, once enlarged and configured to measure and integrated into a case, turn it into a media center.
Odroid-N2: Compatible with Raspberry Pi expansion modules
This little computer Hardkernel is another of the models compatible with the expansion modules of the Raspberry Pi, the Hats, since it integrates the GPIO connectors to fit them on your board and expand its possibilities. On the other hand, it includes all the features of a PI 4, but it also has a Gigabit Ethernet connection, so it can be used in wired networks. It also has a 4K HDMI port, which eliminates the video limitations that the Raspberry Pi have. It includes 4GB RAM, a cluster ARM Cortex-A73 quad core and other Cortex A-53 with two cores as well as one GPU Mali-G52.
It also has two more USB3 ports than the Raspi 4 and an infrared receiver. Apart from this it has a better cooling, thanks to the heat sink that is integrated into the back of the plate. Thanks to this, and its video options, the Odroid-N2 It is a highly appreciated option for, once configured and adjusted, to function as a media center. This equipment can be obtained for a slightly higher price than the options we have seen so far: $ 77.
LattePanda Alpha: Windows 10 ready
This minicomputer is by far the most expensive option as an alternative to the Raspberry Pi: starting at $ 409 ($ 449 with Windows 10). Manufactured by Latte Panda, it is practically a computer without a monitor or keyboard or mouse and on a single board. Windows 10 ready, it has a processor 7th generation Intel Core M3, 8 GB of RAM memory, 64 GB of Flash memory and two M.2 slots in which to integrate, for example, SSD storage units. It also has WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, as well as a USB port, among other input and output connectors.
This equipment also includes a Arduino compatible coprocessor, allowing the execution of applications that require low consumption. All integrated into a plate with dimensions slightly higher than those of a playing card (that is, with more thickness).
It is enough to incorporate a 5V power supply, like those that many computer models carry, and you will have a computer ready to connect it to a monitor and keyboard and install Windows. Of course, keep in mind that Windows consumes a lot of power, and that after its installation there will not be much left to run its applications, so if you need more power you can try some light Linux distribution.