Raspberry Pi made a name for itself by offering a small, fully programmable computer for a low price: just $25. Now, they're pushing those qualities to the extreme. The new Raspberry Pi Zero is even smaller than the original, and sells for just $5.
Small Computer, Smaller Price Tag
The Raspberry Pi Zero measures 65mm x 30mm x 5mm, making it significantly smaller than a credit card. At their core, the Raspberry Pi's computers are meant to be integrated into projects, and this new size could allow the Pi Zero to be used in more places than ever. From tiny UAVs to pocket-sized tools, the Pi Zero might find its way into any number of projects its predecessor would have been too large for.
However, the computer's main draw is undoubtedly its price tag. At $25, the original Pi was a tempting option for developers who didn't want to take the time to put together their own computer for the project. Lopping off 80 percent of that price changes everything. Suddenly, buying a prebuilt Pi Zero may actually be cheaper than buying just the individual components needed for that particular project.
By producing thousands of these computers at once, Raspberry Pi is able to reduce costs far below what an ordinary consumer could manage. In fact, the company has gone so far as to include the computer for free with this month's copy of its magazine, MagPi. Founder Ebon Upton hasn't revealed how much each Pi Zero costs to build, but he did say he isn't expecting to lose money on the product.
Despite the reduction in size and cost, the Pi Zero is actually more powerful than the original Raspberry Pi. A 1GHZ processor and 512MB of RAM are more than capable of handling most applications, putting the Pi Zero roughly on par with the iPhone 4. Rather than including on-board storage, the Pi Zero has a micro-SD card slot, allowing you take advantage of cards you already have or purchase the amount of storage you need.
The Pi Zero uses two micro-USB ports for power and data input, allowing it to easily connect to most devices. It also has a mini-HDMI port for video output, allowing it to be connected to a TV or monitor on the fly. Since these smaller ports don't accept the normal USB and HDMI cables most people use, Raspberry Pi is offering a set of adapters for 4 through its online store.
Raspberry Pi landed a $1 million grant from Google in 2013 to provide children in the U.K. with computers, making it easier for kids to learn to code. It was a conversation with Google chairman Eric Schmidt that led Upton down the path to creating a $5 computer. Previously, Upton had been looking at creating a more expensive, more powerful version of the Pi. Schmidt convinced him to take the project in the opposite direction.
According to Upton, Schmidt said that it's hard to compete with cheap. So far it appears he was right. While the Pi Zero isn't the only ultracheap computer on the market, its $5 price tag is low even in that arena. Despite thousands of units on hand, the initial stock of the product sold out online in less than 24 hours.
There's little doubt that the Pi Zero will have a huge impact on the project-oriented computer market, but the full extent of that impact has yet to be felt. As more of the tiny computers are manufactured and sold in the coming months, Raspberry Pi's influence will be felt around the world, with competitors scrambling to keep up.