I feel extremely lucky getting my hands on the Pi4 (4 gig) unit, which have been flying off the shelf at the local Micro Center store.
But it has proven well worth the effort of commandeering one!
Yes, the Pi 4 rocks!
Thought I would share some impressions of the Pi4 4Gig-model, after about 10 days of heavy use as a dual-screen primary desktop.
Broadly speaking, the new Pi 4's Raspbian Buster desktop 'feels' as plucky and responsive as a $US 1,000 Mac Mini from a few years ago (even though I am running her off an SD-card). Can't wait for USB-booting to be offcially enabled so I can see speed gains from a USB-3 startup. I still use PI 2s and PI 3B+s but the latest model offers big boosts I attribute to the big ram upgrade.
For text crunching, using programs like libreoffice, focuswriter, pyroom, artha and ZimNotes, the Pi 4 performance leap lets me keep open multiple windows with absolutely no slowdown in performance or responsiveness. PDF documents open quicker and scroll much much easier even with large files like the MagPi magazine. On the Pi 2/&3B+, PDF viewing (even in zathura, mupdf and lightweight readers always felt a bit sluggish with larger files of picture heavy content).
And yes, dual screens make a huge difference for daily usage as I can dedicate one for work and one for reading (my second monitor is a page-height vertical, which is excellent for full-page viewing of articles, word processing files as well as IDEs for code).
I did notice the second vertically-oriented monitor seems slightly sluggish, though I have yet to investigate why this is the case.
On the topic of dual monitors, let me discuss VLC for a moment. Playing video across two screens may not be particulary useful, but the PI 4 is able to show video at 1080 across two monitors effortlessly. Streaming audio was fine on the Pi2/&B+ models but the PI4 does an excellent job with video streams. I have found VLC video better than viewing from inside a browser.
As far as browsers — links2, surf and firefox all work like a charm on the Pi4. I prefer links2 as a go-to browser because it is highly customizable ( I prefer a black sreen with blue text), can be used largely without a mouse and is stunningly fast. Images are rendered as fast as text. It is a simple light browser, but you can output content like video, music and pdfs by simply associating mime-file types to specific programs — like omxplayer or vlc player for video.
Firefox works well, when i need java and scripts - things i would rather avoid, when possible. Speeds don't seem appreciably different whether i am using ethernet or 2.4 wifi, though I expected ethernet to outpace given the Pi 4 specs. Firefox is moderately fast and usage is acceptable.
....Suckless software's Surf may be the real hidden gem for browsing, If one finds links2 is too 'texty' or 'javaless,' then Surf is an excellent choice for a richer nested-menu candyland full web experience. On the Pi4 4gig, surf rides the waves convincingly....Surf seems to have the fastest video — better than firefox or chrome - by far. Launching and loading the app is also faster.
Plop "surf https://www.duckduckgo.com
" into a main menu entry or a desktop launcher (or terminal) and you are off to the races. (Just be sure to delete your surf cache occassionally as it grows to absurd sizes).
Wktmltopdf and cutycapt are two utilities that basically quickly rip web pages into pdf form, which are excellent tools for saving a page for reference later...they both work faster on the Pi 4 and I find myself using custom shortcuts in the main menu to dump entire pages intp pdf for later reading. (You can cron-job em' and e-mail the results to yourself, if you wanna roll that way.) Another terminal tool that is worthwhile on the Pi is "surf raw," for zippy duckduckgo searches!
As a quick aside, the RPI daily main news pages seems to load a bit slower than most because of large picture sizes (though i have yet to verify that is the cause). Still worth the wait, though. Good stuff.
The thinner micro-hdmi cables have proven a non-issue and work great so far. I have seen a few temperature alerts (3 in 10 days of heavy usage) and though the pi runs hot in the official case. For reasons i have yet to fathom, I have found placing the case sideways (hdmi upward) keeps it cooler given the peculiar thermodynamics (or airflow) of my desk. Flirc case coming soon, I hope! (I must say i miss the hat-friendly removable top of the old 2/3B+ official case.)
On a final note, since we are now all discussing the "Pi as a Desktop" as distinct from the great learning and physical-computing platform it has always been and remains, I think the sore spot for Raspbian-Buster is the default desktop appearance. LXDE is fine for me because I know how to tweak the colors, icons and tool bars to my liking. But a Mate-like tweak tool that is accessible to new users (some who have never really used a linux machine or computer at all) might be really really really be worthwhile in winning over new Pi recruits. Yes, there are still people bereft of any command-line prowess that come from iOS-land and the first thing they want to do is customize colors and icons...so it might be worth considering what these emojinauts like.
Please understand, I am sharing my overall impressions and not a technical analysis of the Pi 4 here. And I hope those impressions inspire you to go out and get three — if you can find them. Sales are brisk here and getting one relatively quickly makes me feel like a lottery winner.
The Pi 4 is a remarkable machine at an amazing price. The folks at the foundation continue to impress me with their innovations from the Pi 2 (my first) to the Zero, through the Pi 4.
Really guys, well done. Only wish you could expand your PiShop franchises to physical locations over here in the US — perhaps a few mini branches in college bookstores at major schools like MIT. (Alternatively, you might want to consider a Pi Membership program where you donate $25 and are entitled to get next edition Pi at the regular $35/55 cost. I would gladly pay something to support the foundation and not have to spend a hours looking across the web for US retailers who are in supply. Just an ad hoc idea...)
Anyway, thanks for letting me share my early impressions of the PI 4 and keep up the great work!