The original Pi-Top was a modular laptop powered by a Raspberry Pi that came out on Indiegogo back in 2014. Now, the company (also called Pi-Top) is back with an updated version of the laptop that looks to improve on the original in a couple of key ways, via Engadget.
The Raspberry Pi is best known as a diminutive mini-computer that’s good for coding projects due to its low cost and small size. The Pi-Top takes a different approach to the tiny computer, though, using it as the brains for a larger device that manages to turn the humble Pi into a full-sized laptop, which is designed to help teach coding skills.
The updated Pi-Top is easier to assemble than the first model, and features a clever adjustable keyboard, which slides forward to reveal the Pi itself, along with what the company calls the “Modular Rail,” where users can attach new components and Pi-Top accessories. The new Pi-Top comes with one compatible accessory out of the box; an “Inventor’s Kit” that consists of a breadboard and some basic components for building small projects, like LEDs; a microphone; and a motion sensor. Like the original, it runs a custom operating system called “pi-topOS: Polaris,” which looks to be a little more user friendly than the standard Raspian OS.
The new Pi-Top model made other necessary improvements, too: the screen is now a 14-inch, 1080p panel, the design is sleeker, and the trackpad is now sensibly located at the bottom of the keyboard, instead of the baffling placement to the right of it from the first iteration of the device.
The learn-to-code marketplace is pretty competitive, though, with companies like Kano — which makes a similar, Pi-powered DIY laptop — offering a lot of competition. But the Pi-Top feels like it’s angled toward older kids more so than other offerings, which often feel more juvenile and focused on teaching the basic logic of coding rather than actual technical skills.
That said, the Pi-Top is priced at $319.99, which not only puts it up against most Chromebooks, but even some lower-priced Windows laptops. It’s also a pretty hefty markup compared to a Raspberry Pi 3 on its own, which costs around $35.