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Banana Pi: The £35 mini PC twice as powerful as a Raspberry Pi revealed

The Gadget Show  Tuesday 22 April 2014

Banana Pi: The £35 mini PC twice as powerful as a Raspberry Pi revealed

The Raspberry Pi took the tech world by storm when it first launched two years ago – after all, what self-respecting gadget lover wouldn’t want a teeny, super-affordable and almost infinitely customisable computer? Imagine if it had more power though; perhaps it could be the ideal pocket-sized gaming machine! Good news: such a super-gadget exists, in the form of the aptly-named Banana Pi.

As the fruity name suggests, the Banana Pi offers a similar concept to the Raspberry Pi. It’s an incredibly small, bare-bones PC, packing in the essentials and not a lot else. It means you’ll be able to customise to your heart’s content – coding specific programmes to carry out functions for your home entertainment systems, or adding different features like cameras – but it also means you’ll need to know what you’re doing if you want to get the best out of either the Raspberry or the brand new Banana Pi.

Five ways the Raspberry Pi changed the world!

So what does the latest fruit have to offer? More performance, for a start, with a faster processor and double the memory of the Raspberry Pi. That means the Banana Pi gets a zippy 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 processor and the 1GB of RAM.

Granted, it’s not enough to turn the Banana Pi into something capable of rivalling your MacBook Pro for power, but we’ve already seen Broadcom Titanfall here we come! (OK, perhaps not, but we can always dream…).

You can hook up a big display using the HDMI port or composite video jack, and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can connect speakers or a pair of cans. Add in an SD card reader, a couple of USB 2.0 ports and a SATA connection and there’s a lot to like. Like the Raspberry, there’s Gigabit Ethernet, an IR receiver and a 26-pin connector that lets you add a Raspberry Pi compatible camera.

Granted, none of these features truly move the Banana Pi on from the original Raspberry Pi – outright performance aside – but the Raspberry has proved incredibly popular for a reason, so why change the major ingredients?

If you do fancy a step up in power, the Banana Pi costs just $57 (£34) – slightly more than the £25 needed for the Raspberry, but still a true bargain if you’re looking to set up the heart of a home entertainment system or more.

What do you use your Raspberry Pi for? Leave a comment and let us know.

Could the Raspberry Pi be the next affordable gaming rig?

Tags:

Banana Pi, mini pc, raspberry pi

User comments (14)

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Liam Phillips

looks a very neat device and for £10 is mcuh better but the best thing thats on this device has to be a sata port can open up to a whole new world of thing you can connect

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Yves

Has anyone had a hands on experience with this board? I read a lot of rumours about the product being a hoax.

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Matt

It looks like some bogus clone like cubie or beagle tbh, definitely not an official Rpiv2 sadly. they've not even bothered to finish the website (a.k.a copy & paste of twitter bootstrap example site) Hardly gadget show or ch5 worthy news imho,

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Matt Hawkin

Vapourware. Their websites are full of broken links and no one can demonstrate the device actually working. Where is the support, documentation, downloads? Yesterday they had a "downloads" link on their site. It was broken, but there in the menu. Today it's gone. Buyer beware!

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Chris Blackmore

Well, I wanted to buy it, but the web site doesn't work. I'll have to see if Adafruit stock it...

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markyd

Grated the concept does look like what we would like to see from a Ras Pi model C but this Banana Pi is shameful in its plagiarism and even if its a real product don't forget the Raspberry Pi is more than a product its a mission to educate and revitalise the young into exploring electronics and programming. The Raspberry Pi foundation puts a lot of money back into the community and for that it will continue to get my support. But I would ask them to consider a Ras Pi Model C sometime soon please ;-)

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Paul Adomshick

If they can't even get a decent web site running properly, I don't have any trust in the product itself. The typos and grammatical errors on the site just add to my skepticism. 2nd rate Chinese knock-offs at best.

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Lyndon

I purchased a banana pi through aliexpress and they did deliver four days later via DHL. So far I have just configured some basic stuff including samba and other network programs. No documentation although most of it is rpi compatible. I will try piface later to see how the software and hardware work on the bpi. Overall, build quality is very good, runs cooler than rpi and does not fit in a rip case!

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judy

The Banana PI is the excellent development board

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Michael

You can now buy them from UK suppliers !

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Lukasz Soltykowski

UK Suppliers? Where? Link please?

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Michael

The UK supplier is www.thepidish.co.uk The special offer one looks best!

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Jon

"Twice as powerful" Really, Gadget Show? Really? Have you even asked anyone with a vague understanding of the specs if that's true, or have you just looked at the amount of RAM and decided that double the ram = double the performance? The CPU is faster, sure - but only by about 15%. It has more RAM, sure, but unless you're using over 512MB, that makes no difference, and the GPU in the Banana is LESS powerful than in the Raspberry. Overall, it's slightly quicker for browsing or "light desktop" use, and moderately slower for video use. It's a nice board, and the extra RAM and SATA connector are handy, depending on your use, but to say it's "twice as powerful" is complete nonsense. If you're going to report on technology, do it properly.

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Nige

Jon, "Twice as powerful" isn't the nonsense it might first seem. The CPU being dual core is a big step up and with double the RAM this is definitely much more capable than the Pi for certain applications.

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