Raspberry Pi-Top - modular laptop based on Raspberry Pi 3 that teaches novice programmers how to code

October 17, 2017

Raspberry Pi-Top - modular laptop based on Raspberry Pi 3 that teaches novice programmers how to code

With great pleasure, we introduce you the new Raspberry Pi-Top with inventor's kit – a new generation of modular laptop. Now you can explore, code, create and invent like never before!

Engadgetannounced the new development of Raspberry Pi, a modular notebook with a unique sliding keyboard. If you pull it to yourself, the tray will open for you to install additional parts. The idea is to tune and update its stuffing for different coding projects, thereby simultaneously learning the code and electronics. At the heart of the device is the Raspberry Pi 3 platform, containing a quad-core Broadcom BCM2837 clocked at 1.2 GHz and a VideoCore IV graphics controller.

Earlier Raspberry had already experimented with this concept. In December 2014, the company collected $193,000 for Indiegogo to produce its first notebook, which you can create with your own hands. It was a functional but unattractive machine with a bored keyboard and a small touchpad located to its right. To gain access to the modular space, it was necessary to move a large horizontal panel, which occupied a valuable free space. A year later, the company again collected $ 220,000 dollars for the creation of pi-topCEED, a desktop computer worth $ 99.

A very simple assembly characterizes the new Pi-Top notebook - it takes only six steps instead of 23. This may seem like a step back, but as a result, the design has become more competitive compared to the cheap Chromebook and Windows laptops. The Pi-Top has a full-sized keyboard and a touchpad conveniently located at the bottom center of the keyboard, a 14-inch screen with a Full HD 1920x1080P resolution. At the rear side, you will find one Ethernet port and three USB 2.0 ports, a standard 3.5 mm audio jack and a power connector. There are also Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n modules and Bluetooth 4.1 on board, as well as microSD card slot.

Sliding the keyboard down, the user accesses the modular space. Among other things, there is a cooling system: it is very useful, because if the Raspberry Pi-Top overheats, it starts automatically closing applications. Each laptop is equipped with a "set of inventors", which includes an additional Pi-Top Proto Plus board, LED lights, a microphone, and a motion sensor. Instead of screws in the computer, magnetic connections are used.

The set of inventors allows you to use three variants of programming training in the Pi-Top Coder application: Smart Robot, Music Maker and Space Race. For example, Smart Robot is a cardboard shell that is installed over the Proto Plus board. Using the code, you can adjust the blinking speed of the robot, teach it to talk when someone passes by, or make you think that it is fed when the user closes the proximity sensor. In each Pi-Top there is also a space game CEEDUniverse, which tests the user's creativity and problem-solving skills.

Like the original, it launches a custom operating system called pi-topOS: Polaris, which looks a little more convenient than the standard Raspian OS. It uses basic software, including Google Chromium, LibraOffice, and Minecraft Pi Edition. Therefore, although it cannot compare with computers based on Windows OS, it will fit as the first laptop for a child or a beginner programmer.

Unfortunately, the new Pi-Top is expensive for a low-power laptop: $320 (or $285 for the cheaper version). The advantage is that the device is easy to configure: the user can update the board and use external components. The laptop from Raspberry faces tough competition from the London startup Kano. The manufacturer of sets for encoding last month announced the release of a laptop that includes a multifunction display and a wireless keyboard. The device called "Computer Kit Complete" costs $50 less than Pi-Top.

According to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, programming and code writing will become universal skills in the 21st century. He also said that he would prefer developing these skills to learning a foreign language.