R-Comp bundles a large number of custom monitor profiles to get the best out of the GPU, including support for 40Hz operation at 1080p resolution. Other additions include custom icons for the SD and MS cardreader slots and support for FAT32 media.
SD and Memory Stick cards slots up front
The company has also added a selection of apps to the basic RISC OS system, so you get the Fireworx word processor-cum-spreadsheet, Netsurf web browser, TapirMail email client, plus network clients for Windows CIFS, FTP, NFS and NTP, games, utilities and more.
RISC OS is pretty basic by modern standards, but then, it's a 1980s OS that predates both Linux and Windows 3. But what it lacks in technical refinement – no swap-backed virtual memory, no multiuser support, only very basic security and memory protection – it makes up for in responsiveness. It's blisteringly quick. It boots in seconds, apps open instantaneously and windows redraw faster than the eye can see. No OS has felt this fast since BeOS.
If you're jaded by a world full of samey X86 boxes and have fond memories of the RiscPC or older Acorns, then the ARMini is a lovely little machine. It's pretty much plug in and go – at about twice the speed of the 600MHz Iyonix, let alone the 400MHz A9home, the two preceding native RISC OS computers. One snag is that as it's a pure-32-bit system, old 26-bit binaries from Acorn hardware won't run, but R-Comp hopes to make the Aemulor 26-bit compatibility layer available for the machine at some point in the future.
But it has to be said: it's expensive. Even with the RISC OS licences, it's hard to see how R-Comp can justify the price. Even with worst-case pricing, a Beagleboard-xM is about £155, the Linkworld 820-01 case £40, a Platinum thumbdrive £20 and Belkin seven-port hub £15. RISC OS is installed on 5MB of a 4GB microSD card – call it £15. That's about £250 of components; adding the internal audio and USB connections and so on – surely under £300?
RISC OS 6 is £49. Assuming Castle wants something comparable for a commercial licence, there's still an Apple-beating 33 per cent margin in there somewhere. That's a lot even for a pre-installed, ready-to-use machine – but still, it's the fastest RISC OS machine ever. It's very nearly the cheapest, too – only the 1992 Acorn A3010 cost less when new.
Next page: ...and the Rest
So much possibility so far till payday :(
Re: *I think I paid around £27 with vat and shipping.
"When I give up smoking I'm guna buy Raspberries instead!"
IF you live that long !
> "It’s not entirely clear to me why the Beagleboard is so expensive ... "
We are told the Pi took 6 years to develop. I'm guessing that during the time the developers had proper jobs and regarded the Pi as a sort of altruistic hobby. It definitely wasn't going to be a source of income during those years.
Consequently all the time and resources used for the development process are a sunk cost and don't have to be recouped from the unit-price of the eventual product. That's what makes the Pi different from commercial offerings. In these cases the years (or more likely: months, for time is money) of developer time has to be paid for - in salaries, equipment and facilities.
We also know that given a large enough production run (say for a mobile phone) these costs don't add a great deal to each board when you're producing a million of them. Even less if all you have to do is add new features/power to an existing design. However for a low-sales, niche market that only produces one-hundreth the number of units, those same costs will contribute 100 times as much to the price of each board made.
Maybe the longest lasting legacy of the Pi won't be introducing children to little motherboards, but will be the creation of a low-cost, open sourced basis for future embedded hardware.
My RasPi should arrive this week...
Looking forward to it - at the very least, the Pi will make a decent cheap Linux machine to experiment with, and hopefully more. (I'm holding out for a "TV PC", though I realise this is basically a development board, often with alpha-level drivers to match, so I'm managing my expectations.)
Just wanted to mention another distro for the Pi: Arch Linux/ARM, which I understand is pretty mature as ARM Linuxes go - it's been running on machines like the SheevaPlug for some time now. I'm planning to use Arch with the Pi, as I have some experience from running Arch/x86 on my Eee 701SD netbook.
That said, I wouldn't mind giving the open RISC OS a spin :-)
>The ARMini is considerably quicker than the Raspberry Pi, which despite a powerful GPU has >only 256MB of Ram and a 700MHz ARMv6 core
Which is only a problem if you run today's software where everything has to be portable, virtualised or abstracted.
There's people doing amazing things with 20Mhz ATMega chips with 64kb flash.