A ‘MICRO-COMPUTER’ that costs just $9 (£5.85) has launched on Kickstarter in what is undoubtedly an attempt to take on the Raspberry Pi and Arduino mini-computers.
CHIP is smaller than a credit card (or a banana if you prefer), making it tremendously small considering its capabilities. It’s powered by a 1GHz processor alongside 512MB RAM and 4GB storage, and comes with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity options.
“CHIP does computer things,” the micro-computer’s maker Next Thing explained on the product’s Kickstarter page.
“Work in LibreOffice and save your documents to CHIP’s onboard storage. Surf the web and check your email over WiFi. Play games with a Bluetooth controller. With dozens of applications and tools preinstalled, CHIP is ready to do computer things the moment you power it on.”
It doesn’t have USB ports, but a keyboard and mouse can be attached wirelessly. There’s also a built-in composite output, or a simple adapter can be used for VGA or HDMI.
The idea behind CHIP is to power computer-based projects, making it easy for anyone to integrate thanks to its mainline Linux open source operating system, which promises to be easy to use and navigate.
The device includes a fully integrated battery power circuit so that projects can be taken outside without need for an external power circuit by attaching a 3.7v LiPo battery.
“CHIP is built to be flexible. Whether you’re building yourself a wall clock that counts down time to the next bus at your stop, or setting up a network of hundreds of solar-powered air quality sensors for use in disaster relief, you need the same basic tools to start from: a processor, a way to exchange data, and a way to power everything,” the Kickstarter page explains.
“With CHIP, all the groundwork is laid, and the only question is what you’ll do next. CHIP can power games and connect Bluetooth joy pads, and comes pre-loaded with lots of free apps, including Scratch, an easy-to-learn language that teaches the basics of programing by making stories, games and animations.
The basic computer is just $9, but the price goes up depending on the accessories. It’s $19 with a LiPO battery or VGA adapter, and $24 with an HDMI adapter.
But it gets better. CHIP. will also be available alongside PocketCHIP., a handheld portable device that hosts CHIPvia a removable hatch and features a 4.3in 470×272 pixel screen with resistive touch, and a 3,000mAH battery.
Purchasing CHIP alongside PocketCHIP requires a minimum pledge of $49.
How is it so cheap? Well, Next Thing said that its partners at Allwinner worked hard to help the firm reduce costs, but they needed to order tens of thousands of chips to sell CHIP for just $9.
“By using common, available and volume-produced processor, memory and WiFi chips, we are able to leverage the scales at which tablet manufacturers operate to get everyone the best price,” the firm said.
CHIP backers will receive the device in December, but the PocketCHIP will not ship until May 2016.
CHIP had already smashed its pledge goal at the time of writing, mere days after launching on Kickstarter, raising $642,695. It still has 26 days to go. µ