hyena
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:50 am

don't know if you guys have seen this put a guy is putting out PR for his "alternative" to the pi (Rhombus Tech) .. but much better than the pi for $15 total cost ? ... it does look a bit like "pie in the sky"

Joking aside for its intended purpose the pi is great and i'm sure it will get critically the volume of free developer support it needs to succeed .. and in fact i will be buying a couple for my young nephews and nieces to learn with for exactly this reason.

... delay, "real" pricing and lack of software support are the most common reasons for failure in this field ... eg genesi's MX53 <$50 board looked good until they pulled it before xmas  ... the trim slice looked good until they ramped its price through the roof and still has very little support for its tegra 2 chipset features (little free developer support because of its cost)

here are the links to Rhombus Tech

http://www.itwire.com/opinion-.....-platforms

http://rhombus-tech.net

for real world applications (eg replacing my squeezebox server running on a hacked iconnect) though the CPU and RAM in the pi are too slow and too little

At CES last week interestingly Chinese companies were showing "android boxes" based on Cortex A8/A9 SOC (SPC supposedly cost around $7 in bulk) for around $50 which look a really nice spec - >1GHZ A8/A9 (c/w GPU capable of 1080p), 512MB RAM, Wifi, SD, HDMI, Ethernet etc ... If i knew a little more about hacking these devices to get CLI debian on it I would be sorely tempted to retire my iconnect for one of these little babies ... rather than wait for the pi2

Heres an example

feature=player_embedded

rgds

ian

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Vindicator
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Jan 18, 2012 4:33 am

When I last looked at the rhombus tech board they were asking around $100 for preorders and their quoted $15 dollars wold not be until 100,000 units of production was met If I am remembering this correctly.

Pricing also seems to be incremental as far as the actual price.

As they are quoting a price for a product that they have not even got a manufacturing quote for as yet.

It may be an A8 but it is probably not a dual core just as is several other Chinese boards, in the $50 to $100 range.

quoted from their site,

Pricing

Regarding pricing: the hardware NREs from the factory are $USD 2,000. Therefore, based on the number of committments so far (23 as of 2011Dec12), pricing looks set to be around $100. By the time the number of preorders reaches 30, that will be around $75 (30 reached as of 2011Dec17).

The mass-volume (100k units) price will be somewhere around $15: the more committments received, the closer the price will get to that. One expression of interest has been received for 1,000 (stable) units: a pricing evaluation request is outstanding with the factory and will be reported as soon as it is received.

Please note: this price excludes a case, power supply, packaging, shipping, tax, customs and import duty.

If this is true it is a good deal but I am always leery of preorders as this could easily fall apart and you are out your money.

I hope they also make it if this is legit as the more devices that come up at the lower prices the more likely the PC's may follow suit.

I agree with you on the trimslice it was also a fantasic deal and now is more expensive than some lower end pc's
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:03 am

Take into account the size and power consumption

adlambert

Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:51 am

What, in my opinion, we are looking for from a project like this, is mass community support and co-operation, not just processor speed.

It's good to see other people are also interested in re-inventing the personal computer.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:36 am

Arghhhhhh....

Not another MeTooAlike.

Well it isn't quite, we've seen the Rhombus before - its one of those things put together rather like a dodgy feature film.  A "producer" hawks an idea around the moneymen saying, look I've got so and so and whoosis aboard, they really like the idea, how about some development money, it'll be real cheap and everyone will want to see it!

Its being put together on a vague business plan with no initial support by someone who looks like an escapee form Jedward, which is enough to raise the hackles in the first place.

As for the Android boxes, well...  They're prototypes and there's a bit of kite-flying to see if anyone will bite and find a purpose for them.  Nice kit, perhaps but possibly solutions looking for problems?  And when they'll become available is anyones guess.

Anyway.  RaspPi is in batch production NOW.  Lets get our hands on it and see what we can do with it before looking at greener grass, eh?

(And talking about "greener grass", I remember seeing some shots about the preparations for the first Aussie F1 Grand Prix, and they were spraying the brown stuff green to make it look better for TV...)
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:45 am

I think the quotes should be round 'UK'! whilst the ARM design may originate in the UK most of the software development doesn't, and his hardware manufacturing is totally directed towards China.  This guy clearly has a large axe to grind, although I have some sympathy with his views on GPL violations. It's hard to compare what he is proposing to the Pi as he doesn't have samples to show.  The Blue Times offering is interesting, but not really challenging to the Pi.  It is a complete Android box - essentially a tablet with no screen.  It has a good set of interfaces but lacks the GPIO facilities of the Pi, which are one of the key features for developers/hobbyists.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:58 am

Although Rombus looks like its an 'Idea' more than a product, it must be noted that Amlogic chips are released with specifications.

Its a Eastern spec sheet that hasn't been translated too well, but its is MORE than Broadcom release. The Amlogic development boards are cheaply available (Amlogic 7826) with the CPU I believe to be under ~$5 and with the GPL code you get the MALI-400 drivers for the GPU.

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Narishma
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:17 pm

richardp said:


Although Rombus looks like its an 'Idea' more than a product, it must be noted that Amlogic chips are released with specifications.

Its a Eastern spec sheet that hasn't been translated too well, but its is MORE than Broadcom release. The Amlogic development boards are cheaply available (Amlogic 7826) with the CPU I believe to be under ~$5 and with the GPL code you get the MALI-400 drivers for the GPU.

R


Last time I looked, the specs for the MALI-400 are just as publicly unavailable as they are for the VideoCore used in the Raspberry Pi (or any other GPU for that matter, with the exception of Intel and AMD GPUs).

hyena
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:28 pm

if you check out the rhombus site they give links to hopefully all that should be necessary (if one has the linux knowledge) to stick on to that A10 $50 box UBoot and (that specific box drivers for sd card etc aside) compile hopefully a distro of your choice like some brave souls did for our plug computer dockstars, iconnects and pogoplugs .. pretty useless for their intended purposes but a great bit of kit once hacked to run our squeezebox servers, dlna servers, openvpn servers etc.

in terms of other replies .. hey lets not hate ! the foundations goals are to create a community to help educate kids better (something the current governement recognises is god awefull despite all the money and pretty useless and unmotivated teachers thrown at it) and rediscover that entropeneurial spirit and (micro)electronics industry we (UK) lost in the 60's and 70's.

Lets not critique people who get things made in china after all the pi is made in china !   ... hopefully one of the goals of the foundation is eventually to have a microelectronics industry in this country that has the flexibility and efficiency to compete with china in respect of niche board manufacture (as its highly automated).

IMHO the pi is real and here today at a compelling price which is a great achievement and will kickstart the pi community .. but IMHO its lack of RAM and CPU grunt will be an issue very quickly (discount beagleboarders aside) for doing real useful things which i am sure the pi people recognise and will either already be working on v2 of the pi or thinking about structuring the pi community to accept other hardware in the future.

ian

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:43 pm

That others are trying to do similar projects is great. Whether they succeed  (and up front money is always the problem) is another matter.

There is also the headstart the Foundation has. By the time this Rhombus device hits market (9 months? Same as Raspi, but without the funding...), what are the chances there will be an upgraded Raspi with more memory and grunt? I don't know (before anyone asks), but I look on it like this - by having a standard OS (linux) and standard libraries, it's an easy move from one generation to the next device, and SoC performance vs price is improving all the time.
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:09 pm

I'm still interested in R-pi for larger-scale projects but given that the delivery date keeps slipping and the initial batch will be limited to 1 per customer, I'm looking at other options that should be similar enough to switch over after prototyping. CuBox doesn't look too bad (more money but not bad if it's ready in time), and maybe slightly closer to ready to buy. Any other options?

Our southern hemisphere academic year is about to start and no hardware = students do someone else's project.

hyena
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:36 pm

hi,

re: the cubox

dont forget to add import duty/vat & shipping (i couldnt see an address on their site for where they are based or its shipped from) ... by the time youre ripped off in conversion to/from GBP you might be looking at getting on for £150 for it !  ... way way too much .. the site looks like its someones setup in their bedroom so i wouldnt want to risk money deposited with them without consumer refund protection.

I dont know how its (armada's) GPU compares to the broadcom in the pi or mali one in the A10 ?

In a couple of months the allwinner A10 android set top boxes should be showing their faces and the spec should be very good singlecore A8 >1.2GHZ/Mali GPU 512MB RAM, ethernet, wifi etc for around $60-90 plus duty/vat/shipping  ... apparently they are easy to hack and a lot more unbrickable than the rest ... be interesting to see when they really come though

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:52 pm

They appear to be based in Israel so the 20% VAT would definitely apply.

I am unclear the size of their production batches but an indication is the size of their forum. They currently have 5 online with a maximum of 30. Only 1 posting in General discussion today!

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:57 pm

Philip Machanick said:


I'm still interested in R-pi for larger-scale projects but given that the delivery date keeps slipping and the initial batch will be limited to 1 per customer, I'm looking at other options that should be similar enough to switch over after prototyping. CuBox doesn't look too bad (more money but not bad if it's ready in time), and maybe slightly closer to ready to buy. Any other options?

Our southern hemisphere academic year is about to start and no hardware = students do someone else's project.



According to at least one recent post from one "close to the Foundation" (my quotes) ,  the 1 per household restriction will be for early orders only - you should be available to order 'Pii (what is the plural of Pi? - or is Po the singular of Pi ???) by the 100's by June or July

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:59 pm

Philip Machanick said:


CuBox doesn't look too bad (more money but not bad if it's ready in time), and maybe slightly closer to ready to buy. Any other options?


You might check out the BeagleBoard series (beagleboard.org).  They're a lot more expensive than RasPi, but available now and have a long track record with good FLOSS [Free (Libre) Open Source Software] support.  Three models: BeagleBoard-xM with 512MB RAM and on-board Ethernet and 4 USB ports, "classic" BeagleBoard with 256MB RAM and 2 USB ports, and the new BeagleBone with oodles of I/O pins for hardware hacking.  All use ARMv7 Cortex-A8 processors.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:01 pm

Philip Machanick said:


I'm still interested in R-pi for larger-scale projects but given that the delivery date keeps slipping and the initial batch will be limited to 1 per customer, I'm looking at other options that should be similar enough to switch over after prototyping. CuBox doesn't look too bad (more money but not bad if it's ready in time), and maybe slightly closer to ready to buy. Any other options?

Our southern hemisphere academic year is about to start and no hardware = students do someone else's project.


Is it closer than this month?
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:59 am

JamesH said:


Philip Machanick said:


I'm still interested in R-pi for larger-scale projects but given that the delivery date keeps slipping and the initial batch will be limited to 1 per customer, I'm looking at other options that should be similar enough to switch over after prototyping. CuBox doesn't look too bad (more money but not bad if it's ready in time), and maybe slightly closer to ready to buy. Any other options?

Our southern hemisphere academic year is about to start and no hardware = students do someone else's project.


Is it closer than this month?


The class starts next week, though there is a little break before project selection. I already have a pretty good student interested.

For the others responding: I'm not in the UK so issues like shipping and VAT from somewhere else in the world are not going to be different.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:17 am

Philip Machanick said:


JamesH said:

[...]
Is it closer than this month?


The class starts next week, though there is a little break before project selection. I already have a pretty good student interested.


Sorry, I interpreted this as my need being "closer". If you mean CuBox's availability, I'm awaiting a reply. Given that there is huge demand for R-pi, I can't be sure that I will be one of the first 10,000, so I want backup options to get started. Anything really that is not too expensive and can run Linux and has ethernet. I suppose I could start out with the student working with a PC to get started since there isn't anything magical about this class of device except it's small, cheap and has a very small energy footprint.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 8:25 am

I have Ubuntu running on a couple of PCs that are at least eight or nine hears old. Basically, P4, 2.4MHz, 1Gb RAM. I migrated from Windows as they were getting really sluggish. It has breathed new life in them and they are happy to do anything I throw at them without complaining too much. If time is short, I am sure there must be old junk lying round your school that could be resurrected.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:46 am

Grumpyoldgit said:


I have Ubuntu running on a couple of PCs that are at least eight or nine hears old. Basically, P4, 2.4MHz, 1Gb RAM. I migrated from Windows as they were getting really sluggish. It has breathed new life in them and they are happy to do anything I throw at them without complaining too much. If time is short, I am sure there must be old junk lying round your school that could be resurrected.



I'm posting this from an ancient Dell Latitude CPi notebook with a 400MHz P2, 256 Mbyte RAM and 6 Gbyte drive.  OS is PuppyLinux.  Apart from anything involving video I'm always pleasantly surprised at just what it will do.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 10:52 am

Philip Machanick said:


Philip Machanick said:


JamesH said:


[...]
Is it closer than this month?


The class starts next week, though there is a little break before project selection. I already have a pretty good student interested.


Sorry, I interpreted this as my need being "closer". If you mean CuBox's availability, I'm awaiting a reply. Given that there is huge demand for R-pi, I can't be sure that I will be one of the first 10,000, so I want backup options to get started. Anything really that is not too expensive and can run Linux and has ethernet. I suppose I could start out with the student working with a PC to get started since there isn't anything magical about this class of device except it's small, cheap and has a very small energy footprint.


I reckon there will have been a couple of batches of Raspi's out before the other options rear their heads.
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:20 am

I just browsed the rhombus-tech website. It completely failed to explain exactly what their products actually do and why I may want one. They get an excitement rating of 0.

So if they want to compete with the PI they really need to work on the comms. $15 for a random bit of technology is still too expensive.
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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:35 am

I just scoured through the website for CuBox; it is indeed fairly impressive box, plenty of power in such a small device and all that, but I cannot find any mention of it having user-serviceable connectors for adding extra functionality. As such RPi and CuBox already cater to quite different audiences, with RPi aimed more towards people who wish to do actual hardware-tinkering, too.

Also CuBox does not have H/W encoding support for any codec whatsoever, though that probably won't affect anyone else than me as I still seem to be the only one here who cares about such.

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:49 am

I will be buying a RaspPi, for a number of reasons.

I'm not a great coder by any stretch of the imagination, but $25 is under my expendable income bracket - so I will happily just get it to mess about with.

The main selling points are is its British (before anyone points out they are produced overseas, I'm fully awake of that - but the project itself is) and the project on the whole is something that genuinely interests me. As someone who dabble with C++ etc in my bedroom whilst at school, when the IT teachers were forcing us to do more and more pointless Mail-merge exercises, this is definately something we should be pointing our kids towards.

people who want to flog a "cheaper alternative" are welcome to do so, but coming onto the RaspPi forums to do so seems (in my personal opinion anyway) to be pretty bloody cheeky.....

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Re: another UK "alternative" to the pi

Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:20 pm

It's a huge privilege the staff even allows all these forum posts on "alternatives" to the raspberry pi. Some of the threads claim $50 tablets, $80 laptops, some of them even bash about the unrealistic price of the raspi as it'll end up being $100~200 after adding external hardware like keyboard, mouse, screen, SD, PSU, wifi and whatever else. Other threads are more realistic; claiming schools can often get hundreds of computers completely for free from companies as long as the schools pick them up (second hand, when companies have an IT turn-around)

If you believe you, or anyone else, can invoke press awareness and public enthusiasm to create a successful spin-off of the Raspberry Pi, then go and create that alternative! No one is preventing you from mass purchasing those cheap Chinese tablets and finding out they are absolute rubbish and unsuitable for programming use (or anything at all; most end up being thrown away). No one is preventing you from mass purchasing second-hand $80 laptops from ebay and finding out half of them have a cracked screen, a disgusting keyboard or other malfunctionalities that'll be costly and time-consuming to repair by hand.

When posting in the Ubuntu forum on how great Windows and OSX is, you're usually banned or flagged for trolling. It would be very reasonable if the mods of this forum introduce a rule stating it is frowned upon to talk about alternatives or bash on the raspberry pi.

I never understood why innovation and hard work is always talked down upon. It's like entrepreneurs are now seen as some sort of sinners wasting their money. There's always someone out there with a better idea, that's the whole concept of competition. In this world, your ideas might be amazing, but that doesn't mean your product will be successful.

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