The new Raspberry Pi is a keyboard PC. Great, now turn it into a laptop

The Raspberry Pi wasn’t always supposed to be a cheap PC replacement.

When the first version of this miniature computer arrived in 2012, it didn’t yet have its own version of the Linux operating system, and the hardware was so slow that reviewers discouraged using it for general-purpose computing. It was foremost a device for education and experimentation—everything else was secondary.

The new Raspberry Pi 400 feels like a statement to the contrary. Whereas previous Pis exposed their bare circuit boards to the world, this one comes encased in a slim keyboard. It costs $70 by itself, but for $100 you can bundle it with a wired mouse, a power supply, a cable for connecting to a monitor or TV, and a MicroSD card for running Raspberry Pi’s Linux-based operating system.

The message is clear: Yes, you can treat this like a real computer now. Using Raspberry Pi OS’s built-in Chromium browser is a bit like using a low-budget Chromebook with an external monitor. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can install other Linux apps like LibreOffice for document creation or GIMP for Photoshop-like editing. I plugged in a Logitech webcam and had no issues using Google Duo for video chat. With some extra legwork, I was even able to connect my printer. While the hardware is still on the pokey side, it works for basic computing.


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