Save your documents, surf the web and play games with this palm-sized computer.
When you think back to the days of the earliest computers, which weighed in at 55-pounds, packed only 64 KB of RAM and a carried a price tag of a whopping $20,000, it’s always astonishing to really see just how far we’ve come. Take for instance, Oakland-based startup Next Thing Co., who has just introduced an uber mini, single-board computer with 512MB of RAM for only $9.
Designed with Makers in mind, C.H.I.P. is not your everyday computer. The open-source board runs Debain-based Linux and boasts a 1Ghz R8 ARM processor, an ARM Mali-400 GPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of eMMC storage. Impressively, this little fellow is even more powerful than a Raspberry Pi B+ and equal to the BeagleBone Black in terms of clock speed, RAM and storage.
What sets C.H.I.P. apart from the others is its built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and extreme portability. This enables users to save their spreadsheets and documents to its on-board storage, surf the web using a Chromium browser, or even play games wirelessly. With dozens of pre-installed applications and tools, the recently-revealed Kickstarter project is ready to “do computer things the moment you power it on.”
Beyond that, C.H.I.P. comes with a full-sized and micro-USB port, along with an audio jack with a microphone that doubles as a way to output video via a composite cable. The unit has been designed to work with just about any sized screen, whether new or old, and can be easily connected via its built-in composite output or by adding a simple expansion boards for VGA or HDMI.
“At 1Ghz and with 512MB of DDR3 RAM, C.H.I.P. is powerful enough to run real software, and handle the demands of a full GUI just as well as it handles attached hardware. Best of all, CHIP runs mainline Linux, which means it’s easier than ever to keep teaching it new tricks without inheriting a pile of kernel patches,” the Next Thing Co. crew writes.
What’s more, C.H.I.P. can even teach young Makers how to code. The board comes pre-loaded with the Scratch programming language which instructs users by making fun stories, games and animations. Or, for those musicians out there, just link a MIDI keyboard to C.H.I.P. and start jamming. It can be employed both as a portable music player or as part of an entire ensemble. Attach powered speakers and annoy those petty neighbors with some beats.
As eluded to earlier, C.H.I.P. was created to accommodate the needs of those on-the-go through what the startup calls PocketC.H.I.P. In essence, this gives the $9 board a 4.3” touchscreen as well as a five-hour internal battery. It also includes a “super-clicky” QWERTY keyboard, which is driven by an ATmega328. And, as its name would suggest, it’s small enough to fit right in your back pocket. Entirely open-source, the gadget features several GPIO breakouts and is removable via hatch.
When combined with the PocketC.H.I.P., users are provided with a fully functioning $50 computer — without the need for a monitor or keyboard. Or, for less than the price of tonight’s dinner, the palm-sized C.H.I.P. can be s slipped into a wide-range of projects, giving them the computer functionality you’ve always wanted.
Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Next Thing Co. team is seeking $50,000. Shipment is expected to begin in May 2016.