Technology has evolved throughout the years since Apple and Microsoft launched their first computers. For those who are technically inclined, it is very likely that you have a smartphone based on Windows' Windows Phone, Apple's iPhone, Research In Motion (now Blackberry Ltd.)'s Blackberry or Google's Android operating systems, which are a lot more portable than the mobile phones from the 1980s. You might even own a laptop computer in the form of a Macbook (running Apple iOS), a Windows PC (preferably running any OS post-Windows XP, since that version is no longer supported) or a Chromebook (running on Chrome OS), while some very technically inclined techies might have their Windows or Apple iOS computers also running on an open source Linux-based OS as well.
Then there's the phenomenon of the tablet computer, smart watch (Apple Watch), smart glasses (Google Glass) and even virtual reality (Oculus Rift). Modern technologies are making it possible to cope with huge amounts of information that let us do much more. As Moore’s Law suggests, the increasing numbers of data is only to grow with acceleration.
You're probably asking, "What's next?" Companies are racing to make the best, smallest and most powerful computers in the tech industry. Credit card sized computers is no longer innovative, but there are so many different options and features you can choose from that you can get for a particular price point.
The principle is rather simply - a mini-computer is nothing more than a piece of hardware designed in a compact manner in order to be easily portable and can be simply plugged into a TV or PC monitor and connecting your plug and play devices that you regularly use (e.g. keyboard and mouse) and you're set to go.
This two-part series will break down two of the best mini-computers in the world and why you should consider one or the other.
Some key components of the original Pi:
OS: Linux, along with RISC, FreeBSD, WebBSD, Plan 9, Inferno and AROS
CPU: 700 MHz single-core ARM11 processor
Memory: 256 MB (Pi models A through B, version 1), 512 MB (Pi models B+ through CM)
Storage: SDHC (model A and B), MicroSD (model A+ and B+), 4 GB eMMC IC chip (model CM)
Graphics: Broadcom Videocore IV
Power: varies from 1.0 watts (model A+) to 3.5 watts (model B)
You're probably asking yourself, "Is this a smartphone or a minicomputer?" Pi 2 is only set in one configuration and the graphic capabilities are equivalent of the performance of Microsoft's 2001 release of the original Xbox gaming console. It features 4 USB ports, a HDMI port as well as an Ethernet port, camera and display interfaces, a MicroSD slot and a 3.5mm audio jack.
It may serve a purpose of both a smartphone and a minicomputer in certain ways. You can program games, systems or applications on Pi and run it on basically any visual monitor. It may not make for the best computer, but the flexibility of the hardware allows you to, in the Internet of Things world we live in, code a simple program to track and analyze data, attach the Pi to a sensing device, e.g. your high-dollar outdoor weather stations and program it to send you a short message to your phone regarding weather conditions. Not convinced? A new program by Raspberry Pi Foundation was launched and is offering schools worldwide to incorporate and place weather sensors with Raspberry Pi computers in their school facilities.