Raspberry Pi 3 in a Box - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Raspberry Pi 3 in a Box

Author: rancell

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools

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?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Confusion about how to open drawers in box, missing simple instructions on how to assemble. Faulty SD card.

Detailed Review:

For this RoadTest we received a "Raspberry Pi Starter Kit" (as labelled on the box). This contains a Raspberry Pi 3, SD card, case, power supply, keyboard, mouse and HDMI cable - all the things you need to set up a Raspberry Pi desktop minus a display. The reviewers are one software engineer (me), my 6.5 and 8 year old daughters and an my four year old son. The older children are already experienced in using Raspberry Pi, but haven't assembled one themselves. I was particularly interested to see how they would be able to get everything working with minimal help.

This is actually a bit of a strange review, because the product appears to be discontinued having been replaced by the Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit. So if you think this review is great, then you probably can't actually get the product unless you find some old stock. I'll review it for what it is, which is hopefully useful for anyone looking at a similar product. Some of the hardware and information is outdated, but I will review it as if it is the era of those components.

The Box

Everything comes in a beautiful 30 x 22 x 9cm box. The design is minimal, with a vibrant Raspberry Pi logo on the front. It gives the immediate impression of a high quality product.

Removing the lid continues the minimal design, with the case taking center stage. The case is just sitting in the insert, and is easy to remove. Opening the case shows the Raspberry Pi board already inserted. Arrows on the insert indicate the steps required to continue through the box and get to the mouse, power supply and HDMI cable which are contained in small drawers. This step was actually a little confusing, as it wasn't clear to me or my daughters how to open these drawers. I think this was due to there being no arrows on this step. I was looking for something to fold up and didn't consider that the drawers were there. Once you realized how to work them they are quite clever and effective.

 

The power supply came with US, EU, UK and AUS/NZ connectors that slide on. My daughters liked being able to assemble this. The USB LED mouse is slightly off white (doesn't quite match the case) and has a tidy looking Raspberry Pi logo. It feels a little bit plasticy, but seems to function well. The HDMI cable is a white 1m cable with Raspberry Pi branding. Pulling out the cardboard insert shows the final components, the USB keyboard, micro SD card and an "Adventures in Raspberry Pi" book (second edition). The keyboard is the same off-white as the mouse, but feels a little bit higher quality. It has the Raspberry Pi logo key (what is normally a Windows logo), which my daughters noticed and made more use of when running the Raspberry Pi desktop. The keyboard is small and thin, which is great for children using it. It has the standard fold out feel for elevating it, which my daughters noted as liking.

The Book

Some of the book was a bit outdated, which was quickly evident by the archaic Raspberry Pi 1 pictures in the early chapters. However, looking online shows there is a third edition available that is updated for this. If this product was still in production, I would expect it to come with the third edition. The book is well written and illustrated, and my daughters found it interesting and accessible. The chapter layout is a traditional "from command line to GUI" journey through the Raspberry Pi which I was surprised about. This is the way I learnt about computers, but most modern material does this in reverse so as not to put learners off.

Assembly and Usage

With all the parts our of the box it was time to build a computer. The USB mouse and keyboard were easy to connect, but the other parts required a bit of prompting to show where they went. What helped was the names of all the components being written on the side of the box. The book wasn't a great help here for assembly as it didn't show the exact equipment in the box. What I think would have really helped was a one page diagram in the box that showed where everything went. This should be cheap to make but would really complete the unboxing experience. The Raspberry Pi board came inside the case, and only required the rubber feet stickers to be added. I think it would have made the assembly a little more exciting if you had to put the board inside the case, but this is a minor point.

 

We powered it on and.... Nothing. It turned out that the supplied SD card was faulty. I attempted to reformat it but it was thoroughly dead. I hope this was bad luck and not representative of the SD cards in this kit. Another SD card was found and we got back to booting.

 

The next steps should be pretty familiar if you've used a Raspberry Pi with Raspbian before. You go through a slow installation process, the desktop boots up. It's simple but functional. The board in the kit is a Raspberry Pi 3 model B, which is sufficiently powerful to use the desktop without major concerns. The most notable absence was the lack of on-board WiFi - as USB WiFi dongle solved this for us.

 

My eldest immediately went to the Scratch chapter and followed the project there. She found the book easy to use and contained more detail than online tutorials have.

Conclusion

This kit is a great way for someone to quickly get a Raspberry Pi desktop up and working. The box is beautiful, and makes the whole product look high quality. The supplied book has plenty of information on what you can do with the Raspberry Pi. With the addition of a simple one page assembly instruction I think this would mean anyone should be able to quickly assemble everything.

 

Both the Raspberry Pi and book were a little out of date, but they would have been modern at the time this product was introduced.

 

My children loved unboxing and using the kit so I could recommend this product for children to get started in computing.

 

If you have a Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop kit I'd be interested to hear in the comments how you find it compares to this!

Anonymous

Top Comments

  • I saw you posted your review before mine, and I intentionally didn't read the content until I had completed mine and was also pleased to see the similar points we noticed. It was nice to see chapter by chapter comments on the book, which is something we didn't review in depth. I think the first half of the book is accessible to an 8 year old, but I did think it had a nice progression that will hopefully be used as the kids get older. I looked online and found soft copies of both the 3rd edition of "Adventures in Raspberry Pi 3rd Edition" and the "Raspberry Pi Beginners Guide" in the Raspberry Pi 4 desktop kit (free download). I skimmed through "Adventures, 3rd Edition" and it seemed to be sufficiently up to date to remove the issues I had with the 2nd edition. "Beginners Guide" was interesting in that it was ordered in the high level to low level concepts as I hinted in the review. I thought this was probably the better book, but I liked the Adventures book for nostalgia in how I had learned to program computers.

     

    Only the 8 year old actually read parts of the book, and attention spans are challenging at that age group. It's something I make sure she looks at when she's using the Raspberry Pi and time will tell how effective it is. I've done a bit of electronics using micro:bit, which I think is much more accessible to this age group than the Raspberry Pi. The book was both more appealing and accessible than I expected for my eldest, which I was surprised with (I thought it would be a bit dry). I think the most effective audience is probably 11-14 year olds, but it is suitable for younger kids to start with and grow into.

     

    Interesting that your SD card was also failed. I too thought initially that perhaps I had broken it, but I really did just open the case and plug it in, and I've handled plenty of SD cards over the years without issues like this. It was actually quite hard to find another 4GB SD card around, as most of mine were only 2GB and this is no longer sufficient for NOOBS. Perhaps there was an issue with the batch? Would be very frustrating if I'd bought this product.

  •      Nice review.  I also reviewed this kit, enjoyed it, had alot of similar comments as you.The kit  is a nice looking package.

    How did the kids enjoy the projects and examples ? Which ones did they like the best, and how successful were they by age ?

    I felt the projects in chapter 8 & 9  would be too challenging for an 8 year, how did your daughter navigate it ?

     

     

    My uSD card was failed also, I thought maybe it was me that did it, and didnt mention the failure in my review.

    I reformatted the Noobs uSD after it bricked ( stuck on the rainbow boot screen on first boot) and on reloading with NOOBs, halfway thru the install it became "write protected"

     

    I also found the manual was outdated. My was an edition 2, edition 3 has been out 2-3 years. There were mistakes in Edition 2 , fixed in Edition 3.

     

    I'd also be interested in reviewing the Raspberry Pi 4 kit , and comparing to this kit . 

     

    If you get a chance, please take a look at my review, I'd be interested in your feedback.