Raspberry Pi 400 : An Opinion Thread

  1. dnagpaldg
    The Lab - OnePlus 7 Pro Reviewer Jan 6, 2021

    dnagpaldg , Jan 6, 2021 :
    The Raspberry Pi is a DIY computer. In other words, there’s a CPU, RAM and ports for connectivity on a credit-card-sized motherboard, and at $35, it's very cheap. It has become one of the most successful DIY project platforms in the world, and people have made project kits using the Pi on the International Space Station. People have made plant monitoring stations, advanced robotics, automated their entire house, rovers, drones, and everything in between on the back of this platform.

    Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

    Back in November, the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched the Raspberry Pi 400, and while people think it's just another hobbyist product, I think it is worth noting just how useful this device can be in today’s day and age. The Raspberry Pi 400 is basically a keyboard with a computer inside it. Before, you had to get a case, the required cables, a charger, a mouse, a keyboard and connect everything together to use the Raspberry Pi as a personal computer - now, you have the keyboard at least, making it much less of a hassle.

    Putting it in one line, the Raspberry Pi 400 is an overclocked Raspberry Pi 4, inside a keyboard case. But that makes all the difference in terms of user-friendliness. It’s more like a console that you plug into your TV than just a credit card-sized System-on-a-Chip.

    What’s different from the Raspberry Pi 4?

    Full specifications for the Raspberry Pi 400 are:
    • Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core Cortex-A72 – Arm v8 – 64-bit SoC at 1.8GHz
    • 4GB LPDDR4-3200
    • Dual-band – 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz – IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac wireless LAN
    • Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • Two × USB 3.0 and 1 × USB 2.0 ports
    • Horizontal 40-pin GPIO header
    • Two × micro HDMI ports – supporting up to 4Kp60
    • H.265 – 4Kp60 decode; H.264 – 1,080p60 decode, 1,080p30 encode; OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics
    • MicroSD card slot for operating system and data storage
    • 78- or 79-key compact keyboard, depending on regional variant
    • 5V DC via USB connector
    • Operating temperature: 0°C to +50°C ambient
    • Maximum dimensions 286mm × 122mm × 23mm
    Now, let's deconstruct how it's different from the Raspberry Pi 4.

    Firstly, it's a keyboard now, so it is a much larger device than the Pi 4. The Broadcom ARM-based BCM2711 processor runs at 1.8 GHz, a step up from the 1.5 GHz of the Pi 4. Also, while the 4 GB RAM variant of the Pi 4 sells for $55, the Pi 400 retails for $70, or $100 as part of the Personal Computer Kit, which contains:
    • A Raspberry Pi 400 computer
    • The official USB mouse
    • The official USB-C power supply
    • An SD card with Raspberry Pi OS pre-installed
    • A micro HDMI to HDMI cable
    • The official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide
    The Personal Computer Kit essentially makes this a “PC from the 80s”, with the chassis in the keyboard and the screen sold separately, just like a ZX Spectrum and others, which were a source of inspiration. You can essentially plug it into your TV and have a PC to do basic tasks on, for all of $100.

    But most fundamentally, the Raspberry Pi 400 symbolizes a completely different use case than the Raspberry Pi 4. It's not just a really small computer that people can use for various applications; it's a well-rounded package that is much more approachable for new people, who might get it to explore Linux, learn coding, or just appreciate the more convenient form factor. Like I said before, it's going to feel like plugging in an accessory to the PC more than building your own computer, and that's a good thing.

    A Raspberry Pi being used as a Desktop Computer with peripherals.
    Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation blog

    The biggest difference is perhaps the hardest to spot - heat dissipation. The Raspberry Pi 4 does not have a heat sink as such. Therefore, it is bound to run hot, especially if you start taxing the CPU or use it for long periods of time. Of course, this won’t be a big issue, because there are a ton of heat sinks and fans available for cheap for the Raspberry Pi 4. However, the Raspberry Pi 400 contains a huge heatsink, which is basically as big as the keyboard itself. This means that the device always runs cooler, even at higher (or overclocked) clock speeds. Arguably, the regular Pi also looks more cluttered, but that’s subjective.

    How does it perform?

    Any gaming rig is going to blow the Pi out of the water. But then, this is not a gaming rig. In fact, this does not even pretend to provide powerful computing. The default Linux distro for this device is called Raspberry Pi OS – a Debian-based distribution running LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop), optimized for the budget hardware. You can also flash a variety of other distros, like Manjaro or Ubuntu 20.10, or even Windows IoT (This is not the same as the regular Windows, mind you.)

    [​IMG]The Raspberry Pi OS
    Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

    And honestly, nobody’s complaining. The device is priced for $70, and includes a well-built keyboard and a CPU with a large heatsink. It is functional, and it gets most work done.

    The performance is comparable to what we find in the low end of the x86 world. You can open up a few tabs for web browsing, use LibreOffice to type out a few things, or program things on scratch. You can also run services like Docker on it. There is a 40 pin GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) unit included, which lets you control electronics using the Raspberry Pi. These pins are what made the platform so versatile and popular in computing, testing, robotics, and among hobbyists.

    Graphic source: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/raspberry-pi-400-review

    Why do you think it might be so impactful?

    The Raspberry Pi platform was launched as a tool to help people learn how to code. In that way, this is the Foundation’s “return to the roots.” A Raspberry Pi looks like a technical device, and it feels like one as well. With the Raspberry Pi 4, the line had started to approach budget hardware performance - it is a functional computer, even if not the snappiest. You can’t edit ProRes footage on it, but it will definitely let you go to Zoom university, or boot up Ubuntu and run VS Code, or run an instance of Thorny to learn some Python. You might even start learning Scratch and build some games on it! In a world where Computer Science has become so big, having a low-cost device for a kid to learn to code on, or a platform that they can use for cool yet inexpensive robotics projects is going to be a lifesaver.

    But oh wait, it gets better. Considering the device is basically $70, schools can easily use it to equip their computer labs, or send it to students who can’t afford their own device to attend online/hybrid classes. Again, most people own a TV with an HDMI port, and this is cheaper than trying to arrange for a decent Chromebook. On this note, you can use it to sort out the online school situation for kids by adding on a webcam, (and longer cables), to the TV and the performance stacks up favorably against Celeron chips often seen in Chromebooks. And to those who think that a phone can do the same thing, the Raspberry Pi 400 comes with a full-fledged keyboard.

    Promotional image by the Raspberry Pi Foundation

    What do you think about this device? Do you think you might get one? Let me know in the comments below.

    Have you used a Raspberry Pi? Let me know some cool projects because I’ve got vacations coming up and some time to spare. :)

  2. pablofg1978
    Nougat Head Moderator Jan 6, 2021

    pablofg1978 , Jan 6, 2021 :
    I have 4 raspberry pi, the original one and 3 model 3.
    I use two model 3 with octoprint to control my 3d printers, other other model 3 as media center (kodi) and retro console and currently not using the original one.

  3. hojsimpson952
    Ice Cream Sandwich Jan 6, 2021

    hojsimpson952 , via OnePlus 8T Aquamarine Green , Jan 6, 2021 :
    I've used an Raspberry pi 2 to control my self Build temperature sensor back in the day at University.
    For small IoT applications I tend to use esp8266 nodemcu because they are smaller, which makes them easier to pleace around at home.
    The Pi is a great tinkerer board with a lot of opportunities to learn.
    The Pi 400 is pretty neat. I can see it as a low budged option for schools to get kids into computer science, or as a perfect first pc for kids, because it's cheap.
    For me as a power user it can't replace a desktop or a Powerful notebook, but it is indeed a device with a realistic use case.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021

  4. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Jan 6, 2021

    dsmonteiro , Jan 6, 2021 :
    I currently own a Raspberry Pi 2 and a Raspberry Pi 4, both waiting for something to do. I actually transformed my Raspberry Pi 4 into a Chrome OS-running PC, but the experience isn't great. I've been meaning to install a Linux distro to see how it fares.

    Previously I've used both as a network-wide ad-blocker/NAS/Recursive DNS server/torrent client/Plex server combo. Crazy how many things you can make them do at the same time.

  5. sumitMZ007
    Ice Cream Sandwich Jan 6, 2021

    sumitMZ007 , via OnePlus 6 , Jan 6, 2021 :
    Nicely written ! Free Knowledge is always welcomed!! My bro has done something related to IOT on raspberry Pi 4 ,he boast more about its capabilities!!

    MRTLima, dnagpaldg and dsmonteiro like this.
  6. hojsimpson952
    Ice Cream Sandwich Jan 6, 2021

    hojsimpson952 , via OnePlus 8T Aquamarine Green , Jan 6, 2021 :
    That's the main problem with the pi in general. Everything besides Linux based distros will not give you a great "PC" experience. Especially Windows for arm runs lackluster on this.

    But as a small coding station or a typing/mailing work machine they work fine.
    I hope we will get a bit more power in the next iteration.

  7. hojsimpson952
    Ice Cream Sandwich Jan 6, 2021

  8. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Jan 6, 2021

    Tokolozi , Jan 6, 2021 :
    PiHole! Make a piHole

  9. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Jan 6, 2021

  10. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Jan 6, 2021

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  11. NaqviMohammad
    Froyo Jan 6, 2021

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  12. Dipesh619
    Gingerbread Jan 6, 2021

  13. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Jan 6, 2021

    Tokolozi , Jan 6, 2021 :
    Then ask?

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  14. Shantanu_Sarkar_
    Froyo Jan 6, 2021

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  15. zeppFR
    Gingerbread Jan 6, 2021

    zeppFR , via OnePlus 6 Mirror Black , Jan 6, 2021 :
    I plan to buy one shortly, but I don't have chosen between the Raspberry Pi 400 and the Raspberry Pi 4B with 8 GB RAM, yet. No doubt I will read this thread with great interest !

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  16. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Jan 6, 2021

    Tokolozi , Jan 6, 2021 :
    Honestly I would go for a pi4B with a case that mounts it on the screen Vesa mount.... But that's mostly because I'm very picky on my keyboards.

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  18. ntquyet143
    Gingerbread Jan 6, 2021

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