I learned through +Google yesterday that ASUS have launched what some say is a “Raspberry Pi Killer” Unfortunately, the ASUS Tinker Board had no sooner been launched when a code error was discovered to curve everyone’s enthusiasm. I am sure this minor glitch will be overcome as a matter of urgency.
However, initially I took a dull view of a rival company manufacturing a SBC (Single Board Computer) to an almost identical form factor to that of the Raspberry Pi 3. I said initially because as I read various product reviews it became obvious that it had been launched as a gamble, without a dedicated website and with very little support from ASUS. Admittedly it is faster, with superior audio and 4K video but with no mention of educational software anywhere. It would appear it is designed to avoid the education market and to appeal to mainstream electronics enthusiasts. Its similar form factor hopes to avail of ready made Raspberry Pi cases and accessories but its price in Ireland is purported to be in the region of €85 when it eventually comes available – if ever!
Needless to say, competition is a good thing. ASUS observed the development of the Raspberry Pi over the years and took on board the recommendations that the Raspberry Pi developers seemed to ignore or could not accommodate. For example, the colour code GPIO pins has been on the cards for years. Gigabit LAN was a much talked about requirement for hardwired media servers. A considerable number of Raspberry Pi educational users complained of signal loss due to thick walls in old schools and foil clad insulation in new buildings. Educational establishments aside, the need for an external WiFi antenna socket was also regularly discussed among the drone and remote control communities. The ASUS Tinker Board has gone some way to meet this demand by providing the standard press-on stud connection lead. However access to the an external WiFi socket or antenna is left to the user.
The Raspberry Pi was an educationally oriented project from its inception and found its way into the enthusiast and commercial applications’ market on its own merits. The Pi’s audio output was adequate for diagnostics but not ideal for quality stereo reproduction and this inadequacy has also been addressed in ASUS Tinker Board with a HD codec that supports up to 192kHz/24-bit output.
The Raspberry Pi’s shortcomings in the eyes of the electronics community seemed to have been addressed by the ASUS Tinker Board but an EEPROM or a surface mounted micro SSD chip for its operating system would have been the icing on the cake.
Finally I see the new kid on the block as more of a Cuckoo in the nest than an outright killer. It is trying to imitate the Pi, use its wealth of resources and eventually push it out of the nest. It won’t happen. It is too expensive, short on educational value and lacks the laboratory test bed feel of the PI family. There are over 10 million Pis sold to date and it boasts a dedicated worldwide following.
Raspberry Pi Killer – NOT