Hands-on with Raspberry Pi’s $42 student PC kit

If you’re young and itching to be the next Steve Wozniak – you know, the guy that made Apple’s first computers – a new kit for less than the cost of a pair of jeans might be just what you’re after.

Destined to be the year’s cheapest PC, the Raspberry Pi computer is a tiny credit card sized processor and board that can run an operating system and serve as an inexpensive starting point for students and hobbyists alike.

Specifications aren’t exactly on par with anything you’ve seen in the shops, as the computer offers a low-end ARM processor with 1080p video playback, integrated graphics chip, 256MB RAM, 10/100 Ethernet port, HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports, RCA video, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Storage comes from an SD card, with the Raspberry Pi capable of taking up to 32GB in this memory format.

Unlike other computers which feature dedicated hardwired power supplies and cables, the Raspberry Pi takes its power over a microUSB connection, making it possible to be charged from recharge batteries commonly used to give an Android phone an extra boost of power.

Despite the low specs, amateur engineers and students can learn how to program for a cheap price, while also understanding hardware design. Students keen to be the next Zuckerberg may find themselves eager to play with one, especially since it comes with a price tag that – once shipped – roughly equates to $42 Australian dollars.

It's true, the Raspberry Pi is roughly the same size as a credit or business card, and is smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S2.

“There has been a huge wave of anticipation and an extraordinary level of demand for Raspberry Pi since it was launched,” said Lim Cheng Mong, Head of Electronics Marketing for RS Components in Asia Pacific, the distributors of the computer.

At the moment, the computer can only be purchased by lining up with a registration of interest on the RS Components website, but the purchasing community seems to be mostly coming from geeks, developers, and enthusiasts at this time.

With students being the target, RS Components confirmed to GadgetGuy today that it has begun talking with government, universities, and educational departments about getting this technology in the hands of those willing to learn.

It’s even possible that we could see a small assembled computer makes its way into rural schools in Australia, as once put together with case and power supply, it would be an ideal inexpensive PC that could be priced well under a hundred dollars without a monitor.