Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Raspberry Pi 400 Desktop PC (raspberrypi.org)
2594 points by schappim on Nov 2, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 754 comments

This blows my mind. I know, it's much more incremental than it is revolutionary, but I think the form factor achieves a much greater degree of access for many people than a typical Pi whose bare hardware may be a lot more intimidating. Now, it's "just" a computer, which happens to expose a 40-pin connector for the standard Pi hardware fun. And unlike other options you might find, this has the massive built-in community that comes with Pi

It reminds me of what Apple does when it redefines a product category by "just" bringing together existing technology into a more convenient form factor and UX.

I don't know if this will quite have that level of impact, but I see the potential, especially now with remote learning: My kids are on a hybrid schedule. I'm fortunate to be able to provide them their necessary computing resources. Not everyone can: The district couldn't secure all of the necessary Chrome Books, and some students have been left attempting remote learning via their parent's phone, or simply left behind. A cheap mass market device has some truly amazing potential to fill in these gaps at the same time that it enables more advanced S(T)EM learning than you could get with a typical cheap Chrome Book.

I'm also old enough to remember when you'd be hard pressed to find a desktop computer for under $1000, perhaps $1500 adjusted for inflation. One for $70-$100 really just hammers home how far we've come.

It reminds me of what Apple does when it redefines a product category by "just" bringing together existing technology into a more convenient form factor and UX.

That's a wonderful observation. The form factor is as clever as it is logical. Stuff like this makes me really optimistic for the future of Raspberry Pi (and widespread computing!).

It's one of those designs where you kind of go "ah yes, I thought that would be a good idea". But before you saw it you might never have planned it in your head exactly the way it is. The iPod was like that for me, with its scrolling click wheel.

Like getting to the platonic form of a specific type of device.

The Pi 400 is the completion of the idea of an educational computer for kids, IMO. It's not going to compete with a Mac mini or anything like that, and the keyboard is likely not going to be anyone's top choice for a 'professional' keyboard. But it's good enough in all the right ways as a general purpose computer.

> the idea of an educational computer for kids

Especially for poor kids in Africa/Asia/etc. Hope it will be the "educational iPod" for them.

The one weird thing to me is their mouse placement decision. Their promo photos and videos show it on the left side because of the most convenient usb port. I have never actually seen a left-placed mouse in the wild. Having it all look so clean and organized in the promo is a bit disingenuous.

In reality, the mouse will be on the right, and the cable will have to cross over top of all cables except the ethernet and usbc power. For such a beautiful form factor, it will look like a mess.

> I have never actually seen a left-placed mouse in the wild.

Then you've never seen my desk! (About 10-15% of the population is left-handed)

But really, the Pi 400 supports Bluetooth 5. So I expect many/most folks will go wireless for their rodents.

The funny thing is that all of the lefties I know just adapted to the right-side mouse (likely just because that is how it was setup at school/office).

While yes, the BT mouse is going to be the better option, they're pushing the kit-included mouse.

I'm right-handed, but I mouse with my left hand. It works well for me and I've been doing it for decades.

Me too. Due to some issues with right hand I retrained myself to use mouse with my left hand. Now I can use mouse by both hands, and in both button orientations.

Switching is easier than most people imagine, IMHO. I started to feel the beginnings of an RSI and went from right to left for half a year or so, no problems.

You basically just convinced me that I should be training my left hand to use my mouse. In all cases except precision work (eg graphic design) it should be doable.

Side note, but if you actually do graphic design, get a digitizer/gtaphic pen tablet, it is simply "another world" when compared to mouse, nowadays even an el-cheapo one ( i.e. something in the 40-60 US$ range)is good enough for non-professional use.

I am a right hander but use my mouse with my left hand. Why? “Saving my right hand to play tabla (Indian hand drums)”.

In any case, over the years I have become very comfortable using mouse with left hand as a right hander.

Actually this has little to do with being left-handed, it depends on other factors.

I am right handed and use the mouse with the left, so that I have my right hand "free" to use a pen or the (right side) numeric keypad when crunching numbers.

And I do not (as many left-handers do) "invert" the miue buttons, maybe I am strange/an exception.

The mouse placement was kind of forced by the PCB routing design. I've outlined the reasons in my 23 Fun Raspberry Pi 400 facts article:


The keyboard comes with Bluetooth 5.0; maybe the promo would look a bit cleaner with a bluetooth mouse, or at least a 2.4GHz wireless mouse and dongle.

I’m left handed but finding good mice and fighting the bindings is just tiresome.

So I’m usually right handed, although I still move it around from time to time.

It's a laptop minus the screen... that's all it amounts to. It's a keyboard with the proc and memory underneath it. I don't understand how any of this is revolutionary or special. Hell, it doesn't even have a battery.

I think the price alone makes it revolutionary. Laptops aren't $100 brand new and if it were what would that screen look like? Most people who would benefit from this price probably have a TV they can connect it to.

Also, screens last a long time, but it's the computers themselves that need continual ugrading. Case in point: we have a Dell screen from 18 year ago. The Dell desktop long since became obsolete.

So this makes a lot of sense economically, especially for cash-strapped organizations like schools that have to manage large fleets of machines.

Stuff that isn't touched and lasts long (screens) don't get replaced. Stuff that is touched (and likely to wear out over time) like keyboards or gets out of date due to Moore's Law (computer) is fused into one package, so there are fewer cables to worry about getting unplugged, worn out, etc.

That's fair, but there's another problem. It's hard enough to find a regular educator that's qualified to teach kids about computers on a Windows or Apple. Linux is going to be easier?

The education sector has already bought into Chromebooks, which means that most in-class technology solutions are going to target the browser. The only thing anyone will need to learn to move between OSes is: how do I turn it on, where's the button to launch the browser, how do I turn it off. Everything else will already be familiar.

and it is british. anecdotally in terms of longevity and development i have seen they do the best job.

As a British person we tend to tell everyone we do that and people believe it. However it’s not necessarily true. We produced a ridiculously large amount of crap to the point we nearly killed our manufacturing industry.

If there’s anything to aspire to its Hewlett Packard’s test and measurement and computing offerings between 1960 and 1990.

I cannot resist the urge of sharing this wonderful sequence (also made in UK :) ): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1EBfxjSFAxQ

That show is just so good. “Have you tried turning it off an on again?” is close to a universal joke.

"Are you from the past?"

I was considering posting that. I'm glad you did :)

My mom had an MGB in the late 60/early 70s. While she loved that car she didn’t love it’s reliability.

Those Brompton folding bikes are pretty well made, though pricey even with the deflated pound.

I've still got a 1971 MGB. Apart from problems with the electrics - batteries go flat in winter, it's pretty easy to fix most things by hitting it with a hammer.

I've been considering buying one. How much cost do you think you spend per year on matinence?

I have a family member that had a long flirtation with MGBs and MGCs. The short answer is "as much as you're able to".

ugh, I want to pull the trigger so bad, but I don't drive at all now, but a fun manual would make going to trader joes regularly easy

If you believe that, I've got a vintage Allegro to sell you.

My dad had one of those, it had so many faults they gave him a new one after a year. I wrote off the new one a few days later.

You got lucky.

Perhaps that was the case with e.g. vintage sports cars from the 50s and 60s. But I don't think the British manufacturing industry has been doing well ever since. I would love to be wrong, though.

Sometimes it still is, Rolls-Royce (Engines and Turbines) are still the Topline.

According the uk official national statistics manufacturing product sales for 2019 was £396 billions.

Stats for all the EU at https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/prodcom/data/excel-files-n... years 1995 to 2019.

I meant in terms of quality.

Ever watched formula 1?

I'll bet you're thinking of British Leyland, which behaved a bit like Boeing currently does. But much, much worse, and at every level.

British companies that are aware they can fail produce quality just fine. It's a fairly simple tale.

Maybe it’ll be adopted better than the Sinclair QL, you know that cheap British 16bit micro of the future... /s

I can’t stop laughing at this. No /s?

British jokes have the highest quality

> The district couldn't secure all of the necessary Chrome Books, and some students have been left attempting remote learning via their parent's phone, or simply left behind. A cheap mass market device has some truly amazing potential to fill in these gaps at the same time that it enables more advanced S(T)EM learning than you could get with a typical cheap Chrome Book.

How many households in this situation have an extra monitor lying around to plug this into, or even a proper desk to have a desktop computer set up on? Plus they'll need a separate webcam (and I'm guessing finding one that just works out of the box on Raspbian without fiddling around with drivers and such could be non-trivial). This new Pi form factor is kinda clever but surely a $200-$300 chromebook or tablet is still significantly more accessible.

And how does a desktop enable more advanced STEM learning than a laptop?

1) You can hook this up to a TV.

2) Webcam isn't strictly necessary: You'll be able to "see" your teacher, type in chat, virtually raise your hand, etc.

3) This enables more advanced STEM (The "T" portion, really) not because it's a desktop but because of the built-in 40-pin connector opening it up to the massive catalog of projects that exist for the Pi platform already.

4) Perfect is the enemy of the good: You're complaining this isn't a perfect solution for those lacking resources. It's not. But it is significantly better than nothing, or a phone with a 5" screen and no keyboard.

That 40 pin connector is a big STEM deal.

First peripheral I would sell is an add on breadboard station with lots of good sensors, lights, input controls, motor drivers and such that is buffered to prevent damage and start producing education kits.

It's also Linux based on a properly supported distro that is maintained specifically for the rpi. You can do real hacking, not "try to get this to run" hacking.

Seriously. That counts for a whole lot. Frankly, that was one of the great things about the old 8-bit computers. They were constant in some ways. You could turn them on. And then go.

What we've got here is something a lot like that. But it has a lot more power connectivity. All the things the simple machines don't have. But it's all still pretty lean too. I'm excited.

> That 40 pin connector is a big STEM deal.

yes really, this is nearly spectrum-opposite of a chromebook (desgined to keep you in a prebuilt ecosystem)

If you can write code to drive hardware from pinouts I think you can click a button to enable Linux apps.

Writing code means not requiring Linux apps.

Pis don’t require Linux, they support Linux. If you want to teach kids on RISC OS like I was in the late 90s, there isn’t anything stopping you.

You were that is all true. I was speaking more to the Chromebook model, not so much what someone wants to or needs to run on a Pi.

I don't feel all that good about developments on things like iPads and Chromebooks. Not for stem type tasks.

official Raspberry Pi Sense HAT https://www.microcenter.com/product/453920/raspberry-pi-sens...

5x5 RGB LED matrix, gyro, accelerometer, magnetometer, thermometer, hydrometer, barometer, joystick sensor, all for ~$30 USD

Getting the POE hat in there somewhere, somehow, would be pretty neat.

The PoE hat - at least the existing one as we know it - won't work for the 400. Besides the 40pin header it also uses another 2x2 header behind the magjack, which is where it receives the input from the ethernet jack.

Oddly, this board spots a separate ethernet transformer which does support PoE, but there's no circuity to tap that, and nowhere to add it. Which begs for a modification, but seems like missed opportunity.

PoE seems off for the target audience of this device. In all likelihood the most prevalent mode of network access is going to be via wifi.

Oh totally. And I can see why they'd want to keep the component count down. Their regular keyboard is $17, and the 4GB pi4 is $55. So if you just duct-taped the pi to the keyboard, you'd already be $2 (plus tape) over the RRP of the 400.

The bit I don't get is why use an ethernet transformer at all, especially if they're not reaping the benefit from it.

Agreed that it’s a missed opportunity but a Pi with a GPIO hat attached and receiving power over PoE and in hand of a kid doesn’t sound particularly great

Here you go https://shop.pimoroni.com/collections/breakout-garden the easy way to add devices to the Pi. You add SPI and I2C devices and the sell a ton of different sensors, motor and servo units, etc

They’ve actually just bought out a breakout garden “hat” specifically designed for the Pi 400

Check out the PU Cobbler from Adafruit. It literally breaks out the PU header to a standard breadboard layout.

> 2) Webcam isn't strictly necessary

Not in our school district (Mass), students are required to have cameras on and showing most of their face.

Yes, that's the sort of rule a school district makes once there's a minimum standard of technology access. I'm talking about school districts with large numbers of kids without those resources.

Well, you should probably fix that, but bureaucratic facism doesn't seem particularly relevant to whether something is useful for learning.

The US is only a small potion of the world.

It’s a sign that more places than 1 may also have this requirement. You don’t have to make it a thing.

I ditched high school prodigiously as a kid.

I imagine if I were a kid now-a-days, but with the same hobbies I had when I was a kid for real i'd probably be deep-faking a wobbling face image pretty fast.

I'd assert that TV's are commonplace. This, just like the BBC Micro, ZX80/1 and C64, can easily be used with a TV.

In developed nations, I think families in poverty usually have a TV. The brilliance here is that a kid in a poor family can get started with just a single piece of hardware that's available cheaply.

>In developed nations, I think families in poverty usually have a TV.

That was a fair assertion 1997. Nowadays you will easily find a bunch of computers too.

>The brilliance here is that a kid in a poor family can get started with just a single piece of hardware that's available cheaply.

$100 isn't cheap when you're poor.

A poor family that has any sense certainly won't buy brand-new hardware.

When you have to save money, you buy second-hand, which will allow you to buy a fairly modern PC with a magnitude more power than that raspberry PI at half the price.

For instance I could pick this computer up for 1 euro simply because someone wants to get rid of it:


You can find tons of offers like these if you'd browse your local ebay/craigslist/whatever listings.

Why would someone spend 100 bucks on a new machine?

> $100 isn't cheap when you're poor.

I meant if they somehow got ahold of one (community program, kind person from across town, local school getting rid of them, etc.). The discussion was more about whether a child in a poor family who gets one can actually use it without any extra hardware, not how affordable $100 is to a family in poverty.

Most parents in poverty don't have the brain space to think about buying one of these for their kids, much less the $100 it costs.

Right, the point is not that poor families can afford a $100 computer, rather that the poor family's school can buy more $100 computers to hand out than they can $200 Chromebooks or $400 iPads.

> Most parents in poverty don't have the brain space to think about buying one of these for their kids.

You're absolutely right, and that's why the pi foundation includes schools as a target market. Schools deliver the greatest, and certainly the most equally distributed, value, and cheap computers mean more money to spend on that brain space.

Because it comes with community, is relevant, etc...

Sure, smarter people can literally dumpster dive and get going. I literally did that as a kid. N9 big deal.

Tons of people will buy this and get a lot out of it.

> I literally did that as a kid.

Wicked, would love to hear the story.

I have two experiences to share. Watch this space. Maybe writing about good times is good therapy for what is otherwise a painful election...

No the parent, but I did this a bunch as we grew up poor. I got an oooooold IBM PS2 notebook with 6 Windows 3.1.2 floppies from the school IT discard pile. My friends and I also created the cheapest PC we could. It was a cardboard box with a small box fan and then all the Pentium 4 guts duct taped inside.

Awesome sauce. I'm an 80s kid so I basically had two rounds of this. I'll share later. But thanks for getting it started.

Very nice. I also had a box PC for a while, until my old man made me get rid of it as a fire hazard.

I guess you'd have to define poor. Many low-income families have things that cost $100 or more, like game consoles, tablets, phones...

Sure, but for a sense of scale about how badly wrong things can go even in “rich” countries like England, 17% of state educated kids get free school meals because food is too expensive: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-54692880

My local rural school, its around 50%

I looked at it and immediately went "ZX Spectrum reborn". :)

I thought "BBC Micro". (We had two of them at school when I was about 12. The 4 AppleIIs were always in demand with a queue of people waiting to play games, there was almost _always_ one of the BBC Micros to play with if you wanted to type in Basic code...)

I thought Amiga A500... Especially with the name and form factor ;-)

That's the Next, but yes. Your parallel holds.

I agree, only would say Apple 2 or C64, Atari...

The reason that the old '80s microcomputers were often plugged into TVs was that monitors were too expensive. Sharing the TV with every other device and person in the house was a necessary evil. TV-hogging is probably about as problematic now as it was then, while displays are much less expensive. So including a screen makes much more sense for a low-cost access-to-computing device these days.

You're replying to a comment about kids trying to distance learning on their parents phone or without a desk. You're missing the point.

I am not. In the developed world there's comparatively little chance that a school district or national education system could afford about $100 per head for a rollout of RPi 400s but not the say $240 or so per head (being pretty conservative) for a rollout of clamshell devices instead. Especially since you'll make some of that $140 back just by avoiding the technical support costs of helping families get the computers working with a zoo of BYOD HDMI TVs. Meanwhile in the developing world the assumption that everyone has at least one HDMI HDTV at home goes out the window. The original comment mentioned a supply issue with Chromebooks, but it seems unlikely that something like the RPi 400 is going to be much more secure against supply disruptions than a clamshell laptop.

It's not so problematic today, there are multiple TVs in most families now. And old functioning, like, 1280*1024 LCD monitors can be had for free.

it's more likely an old keyboard is lying around. a Pi4 and cheap enclosure could then be picked up for half this price

An 8 year old kid with non-technical parents is not going to have an easy time of it compared to what is essentially a plug-and-play solution.

And I'm talking about households that literally do not have computers. There is no old hardware lying around, much less not just a keyboard & mouse, but the HDMI adapter, SD card, ability to apply the Raspbian OS image to the SD card, etc. Sure, search craigslist or similar, ask friends/family, you might get by. That's not a scalable solution for 1,000 kids in my school district that lack resources, much less the thousands more in surrounding districts. As with many technical problems, scaling is a challenge, not the single one-off solution.

> An 8 year old kid with non-technical parents is not going to have an easy time of it compared to what is essentially a plug-and-play solution.

that's an entirely different argument, which I agree with you on. the original argument was that it's more likely a spare keyboard is lying around than a comparatively expensive monitor (which is more prone to being repurposed)

> mouse, .. HDMI adapter, SD card, ability to apply the Raspbian OS image to the SD card

these would still be required anyway, they're not included in the price

That's a pretty big exaggeration considering the 4GB Raspberry Pi 4B typically sells for $55-60. This adds a keyboard and case for $10-15 on top of that.

> $55-60

let's allow a more realistic $80 delivered

yes, it's a great price for a great piece of kit, don't get me wrong. but if the price is still an issue (as implied by free monitor), it shouldn't be a big exaggeration to expect to find a second hand Pi4 for $40-50

Adafruit $55 + $4.55 shipping

Amazon.com $59.43 + free shipping (1-day w/Prime)

PiShop.us $55 + $7.95 shipping

...so $60 seems very fair including shipping, not to mention this larger keyboard model will cost at least as much to ship.

Monitors last much longer than their desirability these days, there are hundreds of thousands of old clunky Dells just sitting around.

It does call for a bit of scrounging, but an acceptable used monitor should be twenty bucks or free. Including a screen is optimizing for pessimism: the best you could do is something useless for the majority, and only as good/cheap as the minority could get a new one for.

In this particular moment, it might not be so bad for many use cases -- school hours are usually times when people are working anyway, so it isn't as if parents will be sitting around watching TV. Plus, it isn't like the goal here is just to goof off and play games, the kid is 1) learning 2) distracted. Seems like a pretty good tradeoff.

I thought new trend is getting rid of TV's until so many visitors asked us "where's your tv!?".

You're talking about an entirely different group of people. Performative minimalism is not widely practiced among the groups werte discussing here.

Broadcast TV-watching may be going down to a large extent (and even Cable TV), but even some of the poorer families can get their hands on an old Wii, Xbox 360, or the like from a Goodwill.

    How many households in this situation have an extra monitor lying around to plug this into
You just need a television. In a single household it wouldn't even necessarily need to be an extra television, unless it's some kind of truly abusive household where the kid's not allowed to pre-empt the family TV to attend school.

Of course, in a multi-kid household, yes - one screen per kid would be needed.

    plus they'll need a separate webcam 
Yes. Though, I'd be shocked if drivers were much of a hassle.

    This new Pi form factor is kinda clever but surely a
    $200-$300 chromebook or tablet is still significantly 
    more accessible.
Surely, but is the extra money more accessible?

    And how does a desktop enable more advanced STEM learning 
    than a laptop? 
It's not the form factor. It's the OS. A fully-open OS, versus a locked-down OS.

Of course, whether or not this matters depends on the kid and the curriculum. If all the kid's doing is some web-based online curriculum whose needs are perfectly serviced by a Chromebook, then yeah - an RPi device isn't magically going to grant them magical STEM learning powers by osmosis.

> It's not the form factor. It's the OS. A fully-open OS, versus a locked-down OS.

Raspberry Pi 400 is what ChromeOS/Chromebooks could have been if Google cared about making computing empower people, rather than seeing it as a tool to manipulate them through adverts.

The locked down nature of the Chromebook is also (if not primarily) about security too.

Oddly I was at Goodwill and picked up a RCA tv with an HDMI input for $20. It is only 18", but will do for the Pi 400 I grabbed today. Cheap used and still useful monitors are out there.

The pi lets you work without google spying on you. That’s why I want this as an alternative to a Chromebook. My kids can learn computing without feeding data to google.

I also really hope the Pi desktop PC succeeds as an alternative to ChromeOS.

I've been appalled by wide adoption among schoolkids of Chromebooks. Google promises not to build profiles of kids, but they are still capturing all their online and OS behaviour. The volumes of data captured are unimaginably large.

Pushback and scrutiny of ChromeOS is practically zero in tech circles. In fact it's quite the opposite, as discussed by some in this thread: there's excitement about the thought of porting ChromeOS to Pi.

"Does the sub-licensed Intel Management Engine on the Broadcom CPU in the Raspberry Pi 400 call home to Intel servers?"

Tomorrow's headline?

They're poor, not desert nomads. Monitors and desks can easily be found for reasonable prices. Lots of people have random desks and old computer monitors sitting around.

Even for non-STEM students, the Pi setup seems fairly accessible.

From a quick online search, I could find monitors for $30 - $50 and webcams $20 - $30 which is pretty price competitive with a $200 - $300 Chromebook. The Pi community would help with any driver installation issues, and the Pi setup seems powered up enough to run Zoom with no issues.

Though I do see even cheaper Chromebooks in the same price range, so I wonder why / how districts are not able to provide these to students.

Chromebooks right now are in a quite huge shortage: https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20201029PD205.html

> Component shortages continue to disrupt Acer's Chromebook shipments, which can fulfill only 30% of customer orders, with shipments for the remainders having to be deferred, according to the company.

Ah still? Interesting. Maybe supply is geographically dependent, as I'm seeing Chromebook availability in Walmart / Amazon / directly from Acer. The sub-$200 laptops are mostly used or renewed though, so maybe school districts are more hesitant to purchase those.

They're available around me like that too, but not in sufficient quantities. If my district tried to buy 1,000 from Walmart, they wouldn't be able to. They're trickling in from suppliers slowly. It's also difficult to do a dozen of one type, 50 of another model, etc. The district needs to support these, and the more models there are the bigger the burden of support, different OS versions and levels of support/updates from the manufacturer. So, not a first choice, but it's still better than nothing. If they managed to get 200 more kids learning then it would be worth it.

Most people’s TVs at this point are basically a 1080 monitor hooked up to a computer (cable box) so I don’t see this as a big challenge. If a monitor is needed they are quite inexpensive at this point compared to what they used to cost.

The issue is that the Pi uses a relatively uncommon port (mini-HDMI) for their devices, and while the “Christmas Morning” kit that they’re selling includes the correct cable, it would’ve been nice if this larger device upgraded to use the far more common full-sized HDMI port. This way, they could’ve used a cable they likely already had available instead of needing something special or keeping track of a new cable.

Yes! This was such a terrible decision. At a first approximation, 0% of users will use two monitors. Including two HDMI ports on the board was a marketing gimmick ("look ma! two 4K monitors!"), which forced us all into a world of dongles and non-typical cables.

It's not even mini HDMI. It's micro HDMI. And those cables are insanely fragile. I went through 3 in as many days when I got my Pi 4 recently.

And HDMI itself isn’t a great choice if you’re hoping to let people use old monitors.

I have an old one with DVI and VGA, so I have a DVI-HDMI dongle and HDMI-HDMI mini cable and my first dongle didn’t work because the form factor of the monitor case didn’t allow it to fit. Quite a pain.

Of course DVI would rule out old TVs, so I don’t know what the “best” choice is, if there is one.

Is cable that common? Assuming you mean cable tv, it seems that at peak it was only just over half of all homes that subscribed and is falling. Presumably this is due to Netflix et al. However wiki numbers stop a few years back.


The point about it being hooked up to a cable box isn't particularly relevant unless you're only watching OTA digital TV all your media comes from what can be roughly described as a computer attached to a monitor. And even if you are just watching digital OTA TV any relatively modern TV will have an HDMI port.

Even without cable boxes, basically every TV has an input you can plug something into, even if you've got one of the extremely old ones you can get an adapter.

Oh, I don't know if it takes a lot of imagination to see how a desktop like this one enables more advanced stem learning. The I/O ports, low form factor for portability, the raspbian ecosystem and so on.

a pi running linux enables more advanced STEM than a laptop running a locked-down chrome environment.

you could just use the pi camera for a webcam, since the port is still there?

I'm told the camera port is not there; you have to use USB.

Or used notebook, 6 years old Dell Latitude E7440 costs $230. It is built like tank. Price of the latest model starts from $1600.


Think about scalability. We need a solution for more than just one person. We need a solution for 1,000 kids in my town, 5,000 in surrounding districts, and I have no idea how many state-wide. How many such laptops can you find? How much effort will it take to source a dozen here, and dozen there, from hundreds of different sources? Repurposing old hardware only works at a small scale. If there were 50 kids in the school district, the district could put out calls to other families who might have old hardware. That doesn't scale to thousands of students.

These are resources restricted households as well: $200-$250 represents a significant increase over $100.

This is a really great argument. While you can find used computers of all kind for $100, there is no guarantee what you will find in which condition. With the RP, you know you can buy a new machine for said price. This enables to plan availability as well as the curriculum, as the precise machine is known. This is the biggest value of the RP system anyway, the huge user base.

On the other side, it is perfectly reasonable to let the pupils find a screen on their own, most TVs or used computer screens will do.

They are a commodity, sold by a truckload, come from replacement of big corporations' PCs. Might not be good enough to give a whole state the same model though.

That would work then, but the price is still high for some people, so that would be a decent option for school districts that haven't been able to get all the Chromebooks they ordered. That's my district: They received a grant to buy Chromebooks, couldn't get all they needed.

That was an example. $1600 ultrabook costs $230 after 6 years. It includes display and there are cheaper models. Computing power has not changed much in the last ten years (just stay away from Intel Atom), maybe add some RAM and good to go. Bonus point — compatibility with x86 and x64 software, SATA.

Raspberry Pi 400 is fine, but it is not cheapest.

I'm not talking about the cheapest. Cheap is important, but overall accessibility is what I'm getting at. That's what I meant in my OP in my comments about people intimidated by the bare hardware of normal Pi. The normal Pi is cheaper. The form factor and convenience of the Pi 400 make it a more accessible platform, especially for an 8 year kid old with poor parents that aren't very technical. This family doesn't know to avoid Atom CPUs, they don't know anything about installing RAM. They need something easy, off-the-shelf, and decently supported. And yes, also cheap. You're saying it's possible to do better than the Pi 400. I agree! I'm saying it's not practical to try to scale your approach across thousands of families.

Opening a brand new Pi and building up the environment is part of the attraction. An old machine that doesn’t support new features seems somehow inferior to a new machine that doesn’t support some stuff.

The satisfaction in making a tiny little computer board go is very apparent when you see a kid do it, even if it’s just to make some lights flash or boot into a Nintendo 64 emulator via a console. It all feels very close to the metal but without a great risk of damage.

I don't know. Booting real machine into Linux, running Nintendo 64 emulator...

The only difference I could imagine is "Pi is not a "real" computer, expectations are not high" as it does not run Microsoft Windows.

My impression of a lot of poor areas, is that one of the first things they invest in is a TV. So they likely have a TV already. Switching between different usages of the TV they have is probably doable. Use the computer connected during day time for work, and use the TV functionality in the evenings for recreation.

I agree tablets and laptops are more accessible. But I think when it comes to really learning how to use a computer and realize its full potential you want a proper desktop computer with mouse, keyboard, connection ports. I think it is useful to learn how to plug in different USB devices, monitors etc.

Unlike a Chrome book or Tablet, a "real" computer give you a chance to learn about how a file system works, organizing files into folders. Using multiple programs to work on a collection of files. The single task orientation of tablets make them very user friendly and low threshold but that also limit you in how far you can go.

My kids started out on tablets but now I try to push them more onto using a regular computer.

Sorry but this is just silly. There's nothing more real about plugging in usb devices or dragging around files on a system file browser, it's just what seems normal to you.

It would be just like telling kids in the early nineties "this GUI stuff is great and all, but the real way to interact with computers is the command line". Or even longer ago, telling kids "this terminal is nice and all, but the real way to use computers is punch cards".

I also don't think the idea that ChromeOS is too locked down to be a real learning environment for kids really holds up. If anything, it's too open. There are billions of websites out there, and thousands or however many that might be excellent learning resources or sandboxes for kids, it can just be hard to know about them/find them all. But the abstractions are just shifting around, there are plenty of full development environments on the web where you can program and host entire apps. Or you can tinker with IFTTT or Zapier to connect different hosted services and hack them to do different things you make up. There's still a lot of room for creatively using technology, I certainly wouldn't sweat pushing kids onto "regular" computers instead of chrome books or tablets (beyond just a basic introduction to broaden their horizons and let them at least understand that this other paradigm exists).

You're focusing on the wrong stuff like the monitor and the webcam. This is a completely open computing platform... a Chromebook is a thin client for Google services. They couldn't be more different.

Hopefully, people will figure out that a lot of 2nd hand stores have a lot of used monitors for sale that just sit around forever.

Small scale solutions would only create jobs for individuals and small enterprise, not corporate profits. Alternatives to consumerism is NOT welcome on hacker news.

Yeah Chromebook has more but cost 2-3 times as much and also the quote indicates that they couldn't get the chromebooks.

if anyone needs a free monitor let me know, I got some spares.

Do you live in/near a rural area? Schools around me (Alabama) are hurting badly for equipment to facilitate remote learning.

My biggest beef with RPI is how much effort it takes it set it up as headless machine. Expectation was just plug USB-C cable and shell away. Nope. Connect to Wifi first. Then to use it's serial ports there's ton of conflicting info that I've gave up after spending days on it.

Finally no way to run headless if you wan't 64bit OS.

It's good computer for r/iamverysmart type of people, but not to be actually productive hacker.

> no way to run headless if you wan't 64bit OS.

Could you expand on that a bit more? I'm currently running a Pi3B+ 64bit Raspbian headless and have had no problems so far. Does the Pi4 not allow 64bit headless?

Raspbian 64bit seems recent and still in beta. I think I’ve tried to get Ubuntu and failed to find manual how to get it connect to my wifi with ssh enabled. I don’t have keyboard, monitor and hdmi adapters for this nonsense.

Having a flatscreen TV is a very high priority for poor people in the US.

Most people have a TV. The cheapest TV you can buy has an HDMI port , it's like 70$.

I could see a kid plugging this in , doing his homework and after school mom and dad can watch the Pistons.

A flatscreen? as opposed to a CRT?

Love to watch Cops on my $30k CRT reference monitor.

I had a Trinitron CRT with a flat screen...

"Flatscreen" as a right-wing racist dogwhistle term https://old.reddit.com/r/LateStageCapitalism/comments/jjlvz0...

I hope you are trolling because this dogwhistle nonsense is getting out of hand.

You have an objection to the content, instead of an ad-hom attack on me?

"Having a flatscreen TV is a very high priority for poor people in the US".

1) TV is comparatively cheap entertainment.

2) Flatscreens are the only kind of TV produced in years.

3) Is that objectively "a very high priority" for "poor people"? Citation needed.

4) Being poor sucks, and things which make life more pleasant would be a completely understandable high priority.

5) Obtaining things which make life better is a very high priority in all stratas of American life.

And yet the comment ""Having a flatscreen TV is a very high priority for poor people in the US" doesn't sound filled with empathy, understanding, approval, celebration that even poor people can afford material goods in America, does it?

Instead, somehow, it sounds judgemental, critical, accusatory. In the middle of a thread about a Raspberry Pi which was designed and made to be cheap so that poor kids have a chance of computing access, with the context "even poor people have TVs" who would throw in that comment and why?

From an opinion piece[1]: "The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. [...] Regardless of how they were intended, poor people and minorities sense that with those comments Gingrich is winking — some call it “dog whistling” — at certain white audiences by intimating that black people are lazy, happy to live off the government and lacking any intellect."

That's obviously what happened here. The comment "Having a flatscreen TV is a very high priority for poor people in the US" does not say "poor people value education and it's a good thing even poor people have access to a TV where they could plug in a Raspberry Pi", it says "of course poor people will have a TV, they're lazy and watch TV all day and feel entitled to the luxury of a flatscreen, right guys?" wink wink, allowing the poster to deny any responsibility because "many poor people own televisions".

The Center for American Progress paper "Moving away from Racial Stereotypes"[2] says "The notion that poor people, particularly poor people of color, are lazy is the most significant and persistent stereotype affecting efforts to address poverty in our country." and "It’s notable that labels suggesting laziness or lack of effort that have been used to describe African Americans are also applied to poor people more generally." and "Getting tough on poor people is a way to try to win votes during elections, derail legislation, or distract attention from positions that would otherwise be unpopular. Given modern-day sensibilities, however, very few single out groups directly—instead of using words like “black” or “Hispanic,” they raise stereotypes and employ code words that let audiences know exactly which groups they are actually talking about without actually saying so" and "Over the years, progressives have contributed to the continued association of African Americans and Hispanics with poverty"

That is, there's a certain demographic characterised roughly by older, white, 1950s, Republican, Fox-News watching, to whom "poor" means "black" and "TV" means "lazy", "flatscreen" means "entitled luxury" and "high priority TV" means "irresponsible" or "stupid", and the whole sentence is completely innocently deniable because everyone has a TV so it's just plain fact and completely innocent.

The only hint is that if it were a completely innocent observation, there would be no need to say it at all, no need to single out the poor, no need to mention "high priority", no need to mention "flatscreen". You'd just say "people who can afford a Raspberry Pi 400 probably have a TV, which is nice". And that was already said one comment before in the chain.

[1] https://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/juan-williams/207295-...

[2] https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2...

That ones a reach and a half

Sharing a TV with everyone and everything else in the house is far from ideal. A good number of home-computer users did it in the '80s, but only out of necessity. You need multiple fully-working TVs knocking about the house before giving one over to a computer is likely to be no problem, and that's probably a lot less universal.

Our TV sits unused during work hours for the most part, I think this is less of an issue than people are making it out to be.

I've done it, both relatively recently with a laptop connected to the TV and with a Spectrum +2A in the Good Old Days. It's pretty bad, and fortunately I am not and was not a child in a troubled household, or one of two children who both need to use the same TV to get their schoolwork done.

There definitely are possible concerns. I used my computer on my nice 4k tv for a bit and really liked it -- to the point where I went out and got a cheap 4k from Walmart... and returned it the same day, latency issues. TVs aren't designed to be nice monitors, but we're talking about cases where the alternative might be nothing.

Multiple kids -- definitely an issue, but it's still one fewer setups than before.

Who didn’t plug their 8 bit machine into the big telly before dad got home?

I was talking to some friends who are teachers about remote learning the other day. They were saying many of their students (they work in rural areas) had the devices but no access to internet. It's a very complex issue now with all the restrictions.

Starlink has just started beta service (without requiring an NDA like the pre-beta service did). ~100Mbps and a competitive 20-40ms latency (although I think sometimes you can get worse as the constellation isn't yet fully deployed... some satellites that have already been launched still haven't fully raised themselves to operational orbit, but this is still a Beta service, so that should be addressed within weeks). It’s spendy at $100/month (which is comparable to other, FAR worse, satellite internet options... and some non-satellite broadband in the US costs this much for worse service), but rural folk should qualify for the rural broadband subsidy which should help a lot.

This post shows some unboxing of Starlink: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=48297.msg2...

I’m really excited about these LEO satellite constellations just solving the rural/urban digital divide. As launch costs continue to go down (SpaceX’s partially reusable Falcon 9 has already made a massive difference in making this feasible, about a quarter the marginal launch cost per kg, and Starship should enable an order of magnitude improvement on that) and competition increases (OneWeb has been brought through bankruptcy but is starting to launch again, plus Amazon’s Project Kuiper and the potential of launching on the partially reusable New Glenn), it’s an exciting time for the ending of digital poverty in rural areas.

You've reminded me of my anger about telcos promising to Congress to connect the USA shore-to-shore to the internet and then they just gave up and said "phones will be good enough." No, no they aren't.


"Using the Bells own words and filings, by 2000, approximately 50 million homes should have been rewired with a fiber optic wiring to the home, capable of 45 Mbps in two directions, which could handle over 500 channels of video and was totally open to competition. About 86 million households should be wired by 2006."

Still waiting on that fiber optic connection to my home in 2020...sure would be useful to all the kids that are trying to learn remotely via a damn phone right now.

My makerspace has done a program with Title 1 schools, Girl Scouts, etc. where we give kids a Pi with keyboard, mouse, display and teach them a little electronics, coding, etc. The biggest learned lesson has been that many of them do not have internet access at home other than via a smartphone. So we started loading the Pi's with as much free educational content as we could.

During the past lockdown my University sent students without internet SIM cards with data contracts so they could use their cellphones to tether. IMHO in an emergency situation a public good like the radioelectric spectrum should be commandeered by the authorities --- mobile operators should provide free data service to students in need.

For people without internet in rural areas, cell data probably isn't a solution. Unless you live in a very flat area, being too far from civilization to get wired internet significantly correlates with being too far to get good cell reception.

I recently moved out of the bay area to a my house in relatively rural Oregon. I can't actually work from home though, I had to rent a second house in a nearby town because the best internet connection I can get at my actual house is GEO satellite internet which is far from suitable for work.

I'm only 7 miles down the road from a town of 700, and only ~30 miles from a city of ~20,000, yet I have 0 options for wired internet and 0 cell reception from any provider at home.

Jorge is in Spain it seems, where they have more density and cellular competition.

Different students have different challenges. In urban areas, hardware access can be the limiting factor.

Yes, but if hardware is the access problem then clamshell devices with a built-in screen are probably the better solution.

When schools were first closed 17% of LAUSD didn't have internet access. Not just a rural issue.

There was a stretch when you had Gateway, eMachines, Dell (et al) in competition that could have resulted in machines that cheap if the market for desktops hadn't died (relatively). But even now Dell's lowest-end desktop is $350, and that's with an i3.

I wouldn't be surprised if that's an engineered price point because lesser hardware at lower prices can't even be shipped and make a profit. And frankly, if I remember back 10-15 years, there were $350 boxes back then, too, so maybe it's a minimum price/rule of thumb that was calculated a long time ago.

There's also the second hand market. My first PC was a used Compaq. Weighed about 50 lbs too.

Very curious to see how the third-party market will build up around this device. For the RPi Single Board Computer there is a lot of products to extend it into all kinds of directions, assuming one is willing to breadboard and maybe solder a bit. With this new PC/keyboard things are opening up even more for casual geeking around, which I think might bring even more people in. If the community picks it up I think it could be very impactful!

Back in 1988 or so in Norway when me and my brother got our first computer an Amiga 1000, that costs about $2200 adjusted for inflation. And salaries where lower then. It would have been impossible to buy without a generous "donation" by my grand parents which had quite some savings.

And back then salaries where much lower even adjusted for inflation. That Amiga had 256 KB of RAM. This Raspberry is just a beast in comparison to what me and my brother had and it costs 31x LESS, in a world where salaries are higher than back then.

I can see this opening up a lot of opportunities for families and schools in less affluent countries. Maybe even businesses. I can imagine various famers and small businesses out in the countryside in Africa or India could benefit from a computer like this to lookup market information for crops, plan budgets, savings, purchases etc.

My first computer was a CRT monitor / tower bundle from Sam's Club (back when it really was a warehouse club). 15" CTX monitor with a Pentium 75 mHz CPU, 8 MB of RAM, 540 MB hard drive, and I believe a 2 or 4x CD-ROM. Of course, it had a 3.5" drive.

$1499. In 1994.

...I don't know.

I mean, I've had an Atari 65XE myself when I was a kid, but tvs are much bigger nowadays, less accessible and HDMI cables are much more difficult to run through the room (stiffness and length limits are real issues); OTOH keyboards and mice are easy to come by. The hard part of the Pi is the display. The kit also doesn't include a cam nor a headset, nor even a mic. This is super important for online learning. Maybe you could fit in a mic in the keyboard somewhere?

A Pi all-in-one (iPi if you excuse me) or a Pi-book in an affordable price range would be revolutionary. I have an old VGA-only monitor but guess what - no D-SUB on the Pi 400 and a proper dongle would be another... $30?

As is, nostalgia value is super-high but I don't feel it's as practical as one would hope without any kind of display.

I don't know if the monitor is as big of an issue, a quick search on walmart.com yields their cheapest option at $69.99 for a 19". That's if you have to buy one new. I'm sure the local craigslist would have second hand TVs with HDMI in. A lot of households already have multiple, cheap flatscreens. If we narrow the discussion to only those who cannot afford or do not have any of the above then I think we're also talking about the same group of people that would not be able to afford the Pi400 at its current price. It would be more beneficial (and probably cheaper) to focus on making aid available for them to obtain what they need rather than redesigning the system.

The webcam is a different issue, there doesn't appear to be much for a plug and play option for the Pi. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

If these were to be used as an option for remote education, I would hope that the same organization promoting them would also sell a kit with the system preconfigured to use an included webcam.

Even though it's not included (and supplies are incredibly constrained right now for new ones) a standard USB webcam can work. Logically it doesn't really make sense to include a built-in webcam for a keyboard form factor. Adding an external one doesn't make sense in terms of meeting their pricing goals.

Doubtless one of the resellers will augment this with a package that includes an inexpensive USB webcam.

A Pinebook is probably the closest you can get to a Pi-book, and it already exists.

Does Chrome OS run on Raspberry Pi?

How crazy is it that one of the Big Players come in, port their OS to the device, and more or less take it over as just another platform with a Start Menu?

There's a way to make Chrome OS run on Pi's, but it's insecure. Uses the Fyde version of Chromium OS.


Weil that support the Linux add-on inside Chrome OS?

At that point, why not just run Linux? The official OS (Raspberry Pi OS) is a regular Debian-based Linux distro:


I understand the sentiment, but you know that Raspian, Ubuntu, etc. have all had the equivalent of a start menu for years now, right? =)

Manjaro for Pi ships Chromium in a docker image. It works great; Netflix and all.

Are you talking about Microsoft/Windows or Google/Chrome OS here? They're both Big Players, and both trying/would try to take over/appropriate the Raspberry Pi platform.

That would be useful given that many schools are standardizing their distance-learning based on Chrome OS, so (as much as I might want a more open OS) it might help streamline students' experiences on this.

not sure but CloudReady might run on it: https://www.neverware.com/freedownload#intro-text

Regarding the price you mentioned... this is awesome because it reminds me of the old Atari/Commodores you could buy at a store like K-Mart for $200-500 bucks. Which, granted, back then was a lot more than $70 now. I wonder how many programmers lives this thing will start like those old 8-bits did back-in-the-day.

I wish it had a trackpoint device in the middle instead of a separate mouse. That way everything would be in one box. One less thing to carry around.

Or better yet, a built-in trackball like on some IBM/Unicomp keyboards.

Are there patent reasons this can’t be the case?

Unlikely, as Thinkpads had this for ages, any patent would have to be expired long ago.

A couple things - I worked at intel during the time we were trying to prove a sub-$1000 PC was even possible (hence celeron)....

But you know what would be really interesting with these guys - is if they would auto-hive once online - and would just have access to whatever apps were avail - say, you pick a role or profile (switchable) for the unit...

"e-learning box" or "games" or "news" or "community" such roles/profiles

And it would join that hive and then auto pkg whatever apps it needed to to provide access to those communities or content...

"I'm also old enough to remember when you'd be hard pressed to find a desktop computer for under $1000, perhaps $1500 adjusted for inflation."

I'm old enough to remember buying a 40MB hard drive for $4,000 (about $9,600 after adjusting for inflation).

I understand the value proposition of Pi platform. It's definitely popular with quite educated audience in developed countries.

However, is Pi offering indeed reaching out to the developing countries? Are there any sources that substantiate the adoption of Pi platform in such communities, especially whether there're any lasting effects beyond the inaugural opening and ribbon-cutting, so to speak?

It's tempting to seek the BBC Micro effect from Pi platform, and I hope it can be achieved. Still, one needs to keep in mind that such effect largely was a result of a government policy which supported wide adoption.

Leaving aside developing countries for a moment; I know, personally, multiple game developers who have switched to using RPi4 and Pinebooks as their personal computing devices.

They hit this sweet spot of just enough power to be useful, yet totally silent (with a Flirc case on the Pi).

The RPi3b just wasn't quite there yet in terms of speed, but the 4 can easily drive dual monitors and provide enough oompf to be useful in a game jam. Quite a nice little device for hobby development.

I wonder if they’ll come out with a tablet or laptop form factor.

Remember OLPC? It was painfully slow, but that was more than 10 years ago.


> I wonder if they’ll come out with a tablet or laptop form factor.

Seems like you could just repurpose a cheap android tablet...

> Remember OLPC? It was painfully slow, but that was more than 10 years ago.

OLPC may not have been a hit itself, but it seemed to usher in an era of inexpensive low-powered-but-still-useful PCs.

Old iPhone hardware probably has a BOM less than $100.

Giving students a $100 phone + $10/mo of cell internet access for 9mos out of the year pays bigger dividends.

Besides the longest essay you have to write on the ACT, SAT or AP tests is about 300 words. You can do that on a phone - kids do it now on paper.

What if kids cram tests on their phones for a few hours then read books the rest of the day? Maybe take your phone outside. Sounds like a decent enough curriculum to me.

Anyway my point is you don’t really need a keyboard in education. And with that the logic of this stuff as an educational policy kind of goes away.

That seems horribly misguided.

and education should really be separated from the entire phone mobile ecosystem with all the behavioral manipulation that it entails

Does zoom work with the pi? If it came with a camera it would sell like hotcakes.

Yes, it's not perfect (mostly slow, and sometimes you have to try a few times to get both camera and audio working), but I got it working with my Logitech C920, and also with a Pi-zero + HQ Camera webcam that I set up using https://github.com/geerlingguy/pi-webcam

I was lucky to get a pre-release version to test, and I decided to tear it down before I started trying it out. I posted this blog post with detailed pictures of the insides, and some more details and performance benchmarks: https://www.jeffgeerling.com/blog/2020/raspberry-pi-400-tear...

There are also a couple videos linked in the post, if you're more visually-inclined.

Fun fact: the Pi 400 (and Compute Module 4) both have newer revisions of the BCM2711 SoC (C0 instead of B0), and that's part of the reason the clock speed is higher on the Pi 400 (1.8 GHz) than on the regular Pi 4 model B (1.5 GHz)—the newer revision apparently handles faster clocks and scaling with less heat than the older revision.

Just watched a few videos on your channel and love it. Really great stuff.

I love this Pi 400 and think in the new year I will pick one up for my son. We have a Pi 4 that we use a lot and he loves but like you say in your video it is a bit annoying with this little box off the side with a bunch of cables coming out of it.

Not terrible by any means just annoying so I really love the form factor of it all being in the keyboard.

I have thought for a while now they should do this kind of form factor or sell a simple RPi branded monitor with a Pi built in so I am happy to see they thought about it too. A keyboard is much more practical than a monitor of course so it is a far more sensible choice!

Really hope this sells well and they continue with this kind of form factor in the future. Even a slightly bigger keyboard with a "forehead" (C64 vibes) would be excellent.

>simple RPi branded monitor with a Pi built in

Oh, I'd definitely be up for that!!

I’d rather have a miniPC-sized Raspberry Pi computer like an Intel NUC or Mac Mini* mounted on the back of a monitor instead of an all-in-one. Monitors have a much longer useful life so all-in-ones (e.g. iMac) eventually become paperweights or e-waste.

If they go the all-in-one route they should include an external HDMI port and a switch to choose between it and the internal Raspberry Pi.

*: But upgradeable and repairable.

Exactly, this is what the VESA mount on the back of your monitor is for. For an almost no effort solution, you can zip tie a pi to the mount bracket and screw it in (some monitors may even be able to power it via usb). Integrating into the monitor's electronics makes no sense.

You can also get pre-built mounts and cases to attach a pi to the VESA mounts, e.g. https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/omnivesa

> Integrating into the monitor's electronics makes no sense.

Them's fighting words to a NEC C651Q owner.

This is pretty much how I had things setup but it isn't ideal as getting to the Pi is a pain and it doesn't work well with any hats so it didn't last long.

My thinking for a Raspberry Pi monitor would be to have the ports in an easier to access location on the rear of the monitor so hats, etc. can be made to a standard design.

Of course the monitor will likely out last the Pi inside it but there is nothing to stop it being used as just a monitor one the Pi instead is no longer useful.

I have a NUC but I could never mount it to the back of the monitor because the monitor stand/arm itself uses the VESA mount location.

If the stand/arm is using the actual VESA mounting holes, there are brackets that can hold a NUC either to the side or sandwiched between the stand/arm and the monitor.

You could probably DIY that with an RPi case pretty easy, using the VESA mount holes on the back of the monitor. Most of my monitors have two different size VESA mounts, and my monitor mounts use the smaller size, meaning I have 4 extra screw holes on the back of all my monitors, and conveniently nearly all the VESA mounts take standard M4 bolts.

If your VESA mounts are close enough together, you can just drill holes directly in the RPi case and mount it to the back of the monitor. If they're too far apart, use the mounts to put in a plastic or wood bar, then drill holes through the RPi case and the bar (while not attached to the monitor), then mount the case to the bar and the bar to the monitor.

I've looked at doing similar in the past, but I wanted to make the mounting block along the bottom of the monitor with the SD card exposed. That way I can set up a series of SD cards to test with. Want to test something on Ubuntu 18.04? Cool, switch monitor 2 to input 2 (the RPi) and then swap the SD card out to the Ubuntu 18.04 one and you're ready to rock. It's not as easy as a Docker container, but I'm often using the GPIO pins and I don't have the desire to try to make GPIO pins work in Docker. It might not even be that hard, I just don't feel like adding another step to my troubleshooting.

I feel like this is the opposite direction of the 400 ...

Of course, that requires that your monitor have VESA mounts. It seems the big brands have segmented the market by making VESA mounts a “premium” feature. Which is ridiculous if I can get a TV with a bigger screen for the same price that comes with VESA built in to any of them.[a]

[a]: Ignoring the obvious differences between a TV-as-a-monitor and an actual monitor

And make it easy to upgrade or replace later on!

agree the keyboard-in-one is great -

also fyi the pi-top project has a DIY 'all in one' for the PI:


and a DIY laptop:


only claim pi-3 compatibility at the moment, not sure if it would still work with 4, probably need some adapters or so

(maybe other projects like this, not sure)

> Fun fact: the Pi 400 (and Compute Module 4) both have newer revisions of the BCM2711 SoC (C0 instead of B0), and that's part of the reason the clock speed is higher on the Pi 400 (1.8 GHz) than on the regular Pi 4 model B (1.5 GHz)—the newer revision apparently handles faster clocks and scaling with less heat than the older revision.

Reading your article

> the Pi 400 didn't overheat even when I was running it with an overclock to 2.147 GHz, the maximum it allows currently

This only makes me wish they sold an 800 version with 8 GB of RAM, just like the Pi 4.

... and a mechanical keyboard, to complete the possibly unintentional Atari reference.

(Folklore says the original product plan had the Atari 400 come with 4K of RAM, and the 800 8K... and then memory got cheaper by release.)

Just wanted to say that I've been watching your Pi videos on YouTube over the last few months and I really enjoy them. Your video about trying to get a GPU working with a Raspberry Pi was particularly fascinating. Keep up the great work.

This is slightly disappointing, I was expecting it to be some kind of case for the the Compute Module (or at least for the RPi4. I don't know if it's unrealistic, but it would be nice to have some sort of upgrade or repair possibilities.

I agree, I wish this was the case but it's still a compelling gift for my nieces and nephews and tickles my nostalgia for the era of computing that it mimics.

That seems to more or less already exist: https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/raspberry-pi-keyboard

Sorry, that's just a keyboard with a USB hub.

How is the keyboard? It looks, uh, cheap, so I'm curious if typing on it is an ok experience.

Apple made the chiclet keyboard cool again. It might be OK.

Gen-x who remember the TRS80 MC10 and its keyboard remember chiclet keyboards as not much better than membrane keyboards (Consider the ZX81 Spectrum)

But decades later Apple started shipping chiclet-appearing keyboards that actually worked, so the style has been somewhat revitalized.

That said, yeah they could be shipping a 1980s quality chiclet keyboard or a 2020s quality chiclet keyboard, so that's worrisome.

The modern Apple "chiclets" seem to be really just low-travel scissor keys. "Real" chiclet keys as seen on the ZX Spectrum or the original PCjr keyboard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5yIg5wmf6I were something else again. (The ZX81 was a separate, earlier computer, with a very different and even worse keyboard.)

When I was around 7 years old, our family was manufacturing ZX81, ZX Spectrum and Enterprise foil-keyboards, because the factory ones were just shit and died within a year or two.

they were all the same design. 3 layers of plastic foil. 1 for horizontal wires, 1 for vertical wires to create a matrix and a 3rd sheet of foil between them with holes, so the horizontal and vertical wires can contact when pressed.

before that, when I was around 6 years old, I remember my father was sticking round aluminum foil stickers on his finger and type directly on a keyboard made out of a PCB with a key matrix.

The keys were the shape of 2 combs facing each other and you had to short them by touching them with the alu stickers on his finger.

It was an AirComp II computer, iirc. I can't find any references to it online now...

I have a hard time believing there is a chiclet keyboard worse than the Atari 400 membrane.

"Gen-x first computers" sounds like an interesting site

Actually there were differing qualities of these manufactured. I had one of the early ones and it was fantastic, I could run my fingers touching over the surface and lightly depress while dragging and the audible feedback had such low latency: joy. Sort-of regretted replacing it with mechanical keys. Later Atari 400s had barely registering keypresses that was a workout for your fingers.

I must have had a later one then.

Where did you find a replacement mechanical keyboard for the 400? I never found one. I was so envious of the Sinclair owners because they had tons of options.

I think it might have been a local creation. It was ugly as hell, half of it rose above/outside the case showing the switch bodies and entire keycaps. It did have a good feel though. I wasn't much of a touch/speed typist so didn't gain so much. I got it because my father was a bit of a typewriter geek and didn't like me using the membrane keys. Ended up getting an 800 with expansion memory but the keys weren't as good--too springy/spongey no clickiness in it's motion.

> Atari 400 membrane

But at least it was waterproof! Thank goodness they saw the light and used a proper keyboard on the 800.

> Apple started shipping chiclet-appearing keyboards that actually worked

Sony was already using that style of keyboard at the time, so although Apple contributed to the momentum, they didn't start the trend.

It feels plasticky, but not flimsy. I think it uses scissor switches, so it feels better than a standard rubberdome, but it's obviously not going to replace your Model M or Cherry-switch keyboard.

Sauce: I have the keyboard without the computer in it, from when I bought a Pi 4 "starter kit" a year ago.

The Pi Keyboard was decent. I would expect this to be the same just with the Pi integrated.

This is literally the exact same keyboard surface and mechanism as the Pi Keyboard, so it's good, not amazing.

I can type fine on it, though I still prefer an Apple Magic Keyboard (latest version) for daily typing since the body of it is slightly more solid.

I'm not a mechanical keyboard fan, though I know many would like that kind of keyboard here, and it would be more fitting for the nostalgia!

Some of the '80s home micros like the Sinclair ZX81 and ZX Spectrum and the Atari 400 had keyboards which were dire by modern standards, or in fact by contemporary standards. Even the "mechanical" keyboards with full travel tended to be disappointing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNa2UdagTGU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN8WHp_QmoE . In comparison the RPi 400's keyboard is probably well above the mean. Still we might see some third-party replacement cases with mechanical keyboards, like the ones which came out for the ZX81: https://k1.spdns.de/Vintage/Sinclair/80/Peripherals/Keyboard... https://k1.spdns.de/Vintage/Sinclair/80/Peripherals/Keyboard... .

At least superficially it looks like it might be the same basic keyboard as the official Raspberry Pi keyboard that they already had. If so the experience is... not great but not horrible. It's not the worst chiclet keyboard I've used, I'd rate it as adequate. You would not want to use it as your primary keyboard all day, but that's also not what it's intended for.

Or alternatively, how hard is it to plug in and use another keyboard instead?

You'd just connect a USB keyboard and I'm about 99% sure it would work perfectly.

(This is assuming the existing keyboards are the same) Pretty decent scissor-switch, but one of mine squeaks when typing some.

Excellent, I was looking for this sort of info.

(side note, I love the ansible roles you've made, especially AWX, saved me a bunch of time back in 2018)

Hey Jeff, I recently bought the RPi Keyboard Hub (Pictured in OP and In parent blog) for its soft keys (Got bone issues), I was pleasantly surprised with the quality. I use Wacom Touch Tablet for trackpad along with a Steel series mouse in its Hub; But I'm worried about saturating the bandwidth as it's just USB 2.0 although I haven't found any conclusive issues.

Have you tested the Keyboard hub's limits? Controller seems to be QinHeng Electronics USB-Serial.

Edit: It looks like they're affiliate links for monetization, so what I said doesn't apply in this case as they're not the usual tracking crap Amazon et al commonly add to their sharing links.


You might want to replace the link to the plexiglass cutter to remove the tracking info (linking everyone who clicks it back to you); here's the smallest you can get it:


The same goes for your SD card links.

Can you use the keyboard.... as a keyboard for other computers?

Yes, I think Gordon Hollingsworth from Raspberry Pi has posted somewhere specifically how to do it (maybe in the comments on the post on the Pi website?).

Found it! Merci :)

>It would be possible to do this, but you’d have to run a simple buildroot SD card which runs a suitable dwc2 OTG HID driver to pretend it is a keyboard…

Otherwise, you can use the Pi 400 as a Barrier server to the other computer… See my other blog post for details!


Here's an interesting idea:

A build of KeePass that uses the OTG mode for autotype. You plug the Pi 400 into a USB port on your device (whether computer, console, or whatever) and the password file is never on the computer in the first place.

Edit to add:

Might work better with a tablet build of the Pi, though, and you'd probably still want it to sync the file to Dropbox or some other storage place for safety.

Hold on, so you could plug it in to autotype a password?

That's precisely the idea, yeah. It's entirely possible with the hardware, the software (e.g. KeePass) would need to be modified to send through the gadget mode USB device.

Nice, it's probably using the USB gadget functionality. That probably means you could modify the image to access a bunch of the ports. Having the ability to turn my Pi Debugging Keyboard into a USB Ethernet adapter would have some advantages.

Yeah lots of interesting possibilities to think about!

You should probably be able to use Synergy (https://symless.com/synergy)

One of my main uses for random keyboards is hooking them onto a raspberry pi that needs some local debugging...

With a little bit of code, you should be able to pipe keyboard input to one of the USB ports.

There's a project that did that but for a different purpose - a network KVM using a Pi4 - https://mtlynch.io/tinypilot/

It had to use the one USB-C connector that's used for power for emulating the keyboard and mouse since that's the only one that supported USB-OTG. So you kind of either need PoE or another adapter to both power the device and be able to hae the Pi act as an input device.

Have you tried the coffee spilling test on it yet?

On the subject of heat, how is it on this thing? I've heard stories about the Pi 4 B.

According to the article, it isn't a problem; the heat sink is big enough to not need a fan. Nice bonus that it's a slightly faster SoC.

I have a Pi 4B with a heat sink and fan that's running BOINC 24x7 (yielding a RAC of about 750-775 on World Community Grid), and with the fan connected to 3.3V it runs at a comfortable 52-54°C with absolutely no throttling. I think I'm going to try overclocking it a bit and see how it handles it.

They pushed out a firmware update last year that apparently solves some of the heat issues.


There's an aluminium plate that serves as a heat sink and appears to work quite well, apparently.

It runs cooler than the Pi 4 model B, at a higher clock speed. The newer chip helps with that, in addition to the massive heat sink on top of it!

One comment regarding your "performance comparison" graph. Is the "dd" result read or write? I wondered the same thing with your Compute Module 4 post.

It's write speed; sorry about that, I should probably be more specific! All the benchmarks I'm using are from this Wiki page (http://www.pidramble.com/wiki/benchmarks/microsd-cards) — though I need to update that page to include some more USB/SATA/NVMe performance benchmarks since I'm now using a lot more drives with the Pi 4 and CM4 (and skipping microSD entirely for most builds).

Curious if you have any specs on the ribbon cable that connects the keyboard. It looks like it must carry more than USB?

Thank you geerlingguy for your ansible repositories!!

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact