Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Raspberry Pi Laptop

Subtitle: Or not, please read the fine print

I still believe that the Raspberry Pi series of computers have the ability to radically change the face of Home computing IoT (Internet of Things) worldwide.  And why?

It's down to price!

The base hardware costs from about 10 GBP to 40 GBP and bar the SD card used for storage this price includes:

A CPU, RAM memory, Wireless Internet,  Raspbian Linux Based Operating System, and a fan base numbering the hundreds of thousands of people.

This last aspect is particularly important, because if you can't figure out how to do something, or need assistance there is most probably somebody who can help you, oh, and for free.

Back with Price

So, for computing at the low end with strong support I don't see any other competitor to Raspberry Pi.  But when we try to add some componentry to make a laptop, things start to go drastically wrong.

For an astonishing 260 GBP  I can buy a Pi-top computer, oh and I still need to buy a Raspberry Pi 3B+ !

Motorola Atrix Lapdock  alternative

- This is a circa 2011 device
- It was a companion to the Motorola Atrix smartphone
- Available second hand on eBay particularly in the USA, and less so in Europe
- It looks like a laptop but only contains a Keyboard and Screen, no computer electronics.
- You will need a special cable to connect from the Lapdock to the USB connector for the Pi keyboard
- You will need a special cable to connect from the Lapdock display output to the HDMI or mini HDMI of the Raspberry Pi
- Although the Lapdock has 2 USB ports these cannot power the Raspberry Pi, you need an external USB power supply
- If you are buying a used lapdock there is a strong possibility that the battery is dead and so you'll have to power the lapdock from a Mains adapter to keep it going

Here is a connection of a Pi Zero W

 my Lapdock has a UK keyboard, make sure you choose wisely when you buy yours secondhand

 Here is my Raspberry Pi 3B, note the external power supply to the Pi, and my power lead to the lapdock which needs to be permanently connected!

The main use of my Lapdock is as a setup computer.  I can take a Pi, install the OS and make the necessary configuration, e.g package installation,  apt-get update and upgrade, and testing.

When all is working I normally switch back the operation to command line  (using raspi-config) then get the Pi ready to operate headless.

So then

- My Lapdock cost about 70 GBP including postage, for a UK keyboard model, second hand, with a basically tired battery, but including all the special connection cables.

- You can expect to pay 20 GBP for the connection cables if they are not included with your Lapdock

- Since you need to power the Pi separately the Lapdock and Pi combination is not really portable

- For me its a great standalone configuration platform, and potentially with a great keyboard and screen it can be used for any.other system needing a HDMI screen and USB keyboard.