Raspberry Pi 2: We're Giving Away 50 Units!!! - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Raspberry Pi 2: We're Giving Away 50 Units!!!

Author: Brett.Wildermoth

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: I compared this item to both the RaspberryPi B+ and the CuBox-i4pro by SolidRun Computing.

What were the biggest problems encountered?:

Detailed Review:

Introduction

The RaspberryPi has gained a lot of support over the last couple of years, and amassed itself an almost cult-like following from electronics hobbyist and professionals alike. The appeal of the RaspberryPI is it bang for buck sweet spot, not only does the RaspberyPi provide a reasonable mini-computer solution, it is extremely cheap, and provides a vast community of support (http://www.raspberrypi.org/). The RaspberryPi is classified as a single board computer and at the time of release in 2011, its only real competition were the beagle (TI-OMAP3) and panda(TI-OMAP4) boards, which retailed at four to eight times the cost of the RaspberryPi. As a result The RaspberryPi community has grown due to this minimal cost, maximum performance, entry level platform (over 5 million sold). The community is what really makes this a worthwhile platform, the support and availability of software is second to no other platform currently available. And this support and enthusiasm can only improve with the introduction of the new bad boy to the block the RaspberryPi 2.

 

The RaspberryPi2 is a vast improvement over its predecessors, not only are much of the non-essential I/O removed (goodbye Composite Video), the remaining IO is sporting smaller and more compact connectors. The form factor the RaspberryPi2 is similar to the RaspberyPi B+, and supports 4 USB ports, wired network connection, a mini-SD connector and newer and more powerful 900MHz quad-core SOC processor (Broadcom BCM2836 ) to just name a few features. This is a vast improvement over the connectivity provided by the earlier 700MHz single core processor based models.

 

Figure 1: Comparison of the RaspberryPi2 (top) and the RaspberryPi B (bottom).

 

Detailed features of the RaspberryPi2 (Sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi):

* Quad core SOC processor (Broadcom BCM2836) running at 700 to 1000MHz (turbo modes available) ARM Cortex-A7 based cores,

* 1GB of RAM (Shared with GPU), RAM availability with depend on video resolution used,

* 4 USB ports via the on-board USB hub,

* 15-pin MIPI camera interface (CSI) connector,

* HDMI Connector (supporting resolutions unto 1920x1200, even 1080p),

* Analog audio Input and Output, Digital audio output via HDMI,

* 10/100MB Ethernet port,

* 17 x GPIO, accessible via the 40 pin header, and

* Utilizes a 5 volt power source (via mini-USB connector) chewing through 800mA of power (may vary depending on connected USB peripherals)

 

Figure 2: The RaspberryPi2 in all its glory, Ethernet and USB ports, 40 pin connector, camera connector, HDMI audio and power, bottom view with mini SD (left to right).

The RaspberryPi2 is available from many sources, with the most reputable being Element14 (shameless plug), who currently sell this item for $43AUD (http://au.element14.com/raspberry-pi/raspberrypi-2-modb-1gb/sbc-raspberry-pi-2-model-b-1gb/dp/2461030).

 

UnBoxing

When you receive your RaspberryPi2 from Element14, it comes in a package filled with bubble wrap, unwrapping the bubble wrap reveals a box containing both a reasonably thick manual (http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/1878224.pdf) and a anti-static bag with the RaspberryPi2 board. Nothing else it provided in the box and the purchasing of additional components, such as mini-SD card and power supply is not only recommend but essential. 

 

Figure 3: The box (left) the contents of the box (right).


What was missing


Essential Items for RaspberryPi2 (also available from Element14):

* ENCLOSURE, BLACK, RPI B PLUS (http://au.element14.com/multicomp/mc-rp002-blk/enclosure-black-rpi-b-plus/dp/2426745)

* PSU, RASPBERRY PI, 5V 2A, MICRO USB, AUS (http://au.element14.com/stontronics/t5584dv/psu-raspberry-pi-5v-2a-micro-usb/dp/2427500)

* MEMORY, MICROSD, NOOBS, JAVA, 8GB (http://au.element14.com/samsung/mmctr08gubch-rmlmk-farn-kit/memory-microsd-noobs-java-8gb/dp/2428393)

 

The RaspberryPi2 is also available in a pack retailing for $52AUDm which includes the 8GB (Class10) mini-SD card preloaded with NOOBS (http://au.element14.com/raspberry-pi/rpi2-modb-8gb-noobs/raspberry-pi-2-model-b-8gb-noobs/dp/2461032).

 

Initial thoughts

(This is to be a brief overview of what I did, a more detailed version will appear in a blog shortly)

I was impressed by not only how easy it was to set this up, but by how it easily and noticeably out preformed its predecessor the RaspberryPI B. A quick visit to openelec.tv provided me with the appropriate image for the RaspberryPi2. This was simply copied on to a mini-SD card I had lying around, this was plugged into the RaspberryPi2 and connected to my TV. After a few initial setup requirements inside OpenELEC, I was ready to starting watching my favorite movies and TV shows. From out of the box to viewing took only 30 minutes. The system was very responsive and by far a much better experience than any previous RaspberryPi based media center I have used. However I did notice it was a little laggy compare to the CuBox-i4 ($199AUD) I currently use. But then again at $43AUD the RasberryPi2 is an awesome media center platform for the budget conscience and I would totally recommend it in this application.

Anonymous
  • Brett,

     

    Excellent evaluation.  I think that it will help someone who is thinking about implementing OpenELEC somewhere to seriously consider the Pi 2.

     

    I built one for my son-in-law and he loves it, especially the size and cool temperature.  He wasn't sure if the Pi 2 had enough oomph for 1080p video, HD audio, and MKV extraction processing but it does.  We have designated his Pi 2 as OpenELEC only, connected to a LAN drive that is being fed by his MKV producer programs, running on a redeployed Xubuntu Mini-ITX box.

     

    Yes, now I have to buy another Pi 2 for myself!  (-: