Raspberry Pi devices have made computing much more accessible to people all over the world. They come with a low price tag but the newer models deliver impressive performance. Whether you’re tinkering with a DIY project at home, introducing a child to coding, or just need a cheap computing system, Raspberry Pi has a product that delivers.
The Raspberry Pi 400 is the latest device to join the lineup.
This time, consumers won’t have to worry about supplying a keyboard. The computer is packed into the keyboard itself and delivers impressive specs for just $70.
Until now, Raspberry Pi computers have been sold as just that—the brain. Consumers who bought them needed to find accessories like a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. The Raspberry Pi 400 eliminates the need for a standalone keyboard, making it a much simpler package.
Although the entire computer is housed inside a keyboard, it doesn’t skimp on the specs. The latest model is fairly similar to the Raspberry Pi 4 that was released last year. Since then, the Pi 4 has been found powering ventilators, home computing projects, and classroom systems.
The Raspberry Pi 400 features a slightly faster quad-core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A72 CPU alongside 4GB of RAM. As for connectivity, it supports Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Gigabit Ethernet.
It may come as a surprise that the keyboard computer also features dual micro HDMI ports that can each support a 4K display at 60Hz as well as two USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, and a microSD card slot.
That’s an impressive array of connections that even some fully-built laptops don’t have. For those who need niche devices, there is even a GPIO header.
The keyboard itself should look familiar to anyone that uses a compact laptop. It features either 78 or 79 keys depending on the region it is purchased in. At launch, the Raspberry Pi 400 ships in six different keyboard layouts, including U.S., U.K., German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Layouts for Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Portuguese, and Japanese are also in the works.
The keyboard computer retails for $70. However, Raspberry Pi is also offering a $100 package that comes with all the accessories you’ll need (minus a display) to get started. It includes a 16GB microSD card that comes preprogrammed with Raspberry Pi OS, a mouse, a power supply, and a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable. There’s even a beginner’s guide in the box to lower the barrier to entry.
As mentioned, the Raspberry Pi 400 can be used in a number of ways. Although the non-profit organization behind the devices has always been focused on helping people learn to code, Raspberry Pi computers are extremely versatile.
Founder Eben Upton told The Verge, “The dream always with Raspberry Pi is to lure people into buying a PC and then trick them into becoming computer programmers. That’s what happened to me. I was lured into buying a BBC Micro and then suddenly I became a software engineer.”
Given the fact that the computer is built into the keyboard, the Raspberry Pi 400 would make a great gift for anyone that wants to get into computing.
“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,” Upton says.
That simplicity makes the new Raspberry Pi 400 an attractive gift with the holiday shopping season just around the corner. At just $70, it would be a perfect starter computer for kids or anyone else that only needs the basics.
Of course, without some serious workarounds, Raspberry Pi computers run on Linux. That means the familiarity of operating systems like macOS and Windows isn’t an option. Some users—especially those who might otherwise be interested in a budget-friendly starter computer—might be scared away by this.
Fortunately, Linux isn’t that hard to learn and the guides created by the Raspberry Pi team are extremely helpful. Anyone with the slightest degree of tech know-how should be able to figure it out.
Ready to Serve
This year has seen a massive uptick in device sales with countless employees and students conducting their business from home. Something like the Raspberry Pi 400 could be an attractive product for that market—especially on the education side.
For instance, a school district could give students a $70 computer and they’d be able to do their work from home by connecting to an existing TV. The new keyboard computer is more affordable than even the cheapest Chromebooks that are commonly used by schools. It is also cheaper than almost every capable tablet on the market and has the added usability of a keyboard and mouse.
Of course, schools aren’t the only audience that the Raspberry Pi 400 can serve. The organization is also targeting businesses with its latest computer.
Upton suggests that it could be utilized in areas like call centers or corporate offices as a cheap and easy way to get employees online. He goes on to discuss the device’s current pink and white color scheme, saying that Raspberry Pi will likely roll out a more subdued model for the business sector.
“We’re going to need to make it in gray and black and it’s going to break our hearts. We make our products in pink and white and we think it’s the right color and then we are dragged kicking and screaming to gray and black,” Upton jokes.
A few years ago, the thought of an ARM-powered computer—let alone one that’s housed inside a keyboard—would have been unreasonable for any real-world application. However, Raspberry Pi has shown just how far technology has come.
Its latest product will help make computing more accessible in a time when it is needed more than ever. The Raspberry Pi 400 is available now and can be purchased through the organization’s website.