Move over, Raspberry Pi - there’s a new kid in town. Meet CHIP, the latest Kickstarter project from Next Thing and the world’s first nine dollar computer. While in life (and certainly on Kickstarter) there is no such thing as a “sure thing”, I’d say it’s a safe bet to bank on this winning project. After only five days on Kickstarter, CHIP has smashed its $50,000 goal and as of publication is coming up on a whopping $800,000 in funding and counting.
Don’t let CHIP’s tiny size fool you; this little gadget is still a full-fledged working computer. Comprised of a 1GHz Allwinner A13 processor with Mali-400 graphics, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage, it contains the same amount of RAM as the Raspberry Pi but does so with a better processor. Not to mention it is even smaller and cheaper than the latest Raspberry Pi 2. Connectivity for the CHIP is mainly wireless via Bluetooth 4.0 and built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. Also included are a full-sized USB port, a Micro USB port and audio jack with a microphone that doubles as a way to output video via a composite cable. The CHIP runs any Linux-based operating system and comes pre-loaded with Scratch, a user-friendly programming language that teaches the basics of programming by making stories, games and animations. It comes pre-installed with dozens of applications, tools and games and can run a variety of free applications from the open-source community. Web connectivity is provided by Google’s Chromium browser while LibreOffice, a free and open-source office suite, allows users to save documents to CHIP’s onboard storage.
The basic CHIP costs only $9 and includes an integrated battery power circuit so that users need only to attach a 3.7v LiPo battery to the device to go mobile. Straight out of the box it comes ready to connect via composite video, so it can be used on any old TV or small screen you may have lying around. For those of you wanting a little more battery or display screen power, there are several upgrade options. For $19 you can get a CHIP and battery, while spending just $5 more also gets you an HDMI adapter in case you really want to hook it up to an HDTV or a more modern computer display. Next Thing even offers a package called PocketCHIP which makes this tiny package ultra-portable. PocketCHIP gives the computer a 4.3-inch, 470x272 pixel screen with resistive touch, a QWERTY keyboard and a 5-hour battery, all tucked into a case small enough to fit into your pocket. Best of all? The full PocketCHIP package sells for only $49 via Next Thing’s Kickstarter page.
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