9 months ago

New pi-top laptop launched: hands on with the new pi-top computer

A new version of pi-top, the modular laptop based on a Raspberry Pi, has been revealed. The new pi-top laptop features a whole new design with an impressive sliding keyboard.

We spent time with pi-top this week to take a look at the new pi-top laptop and see all the new features.

See also:

New pi-top laptop sliding keyboard and large trackpad

The keyboard is, to our eyes, the most interesting new feature. It’s connected via a flexible cable and it slides down to provide access to the Raspberry Pi and other electronic components.

The fresh design enables a larger keyboard with a clickable trackpad located below it, in a more typical position. It also features a larger 14 inch 1080P display.

Beneath the keyboard is housed an 11-volt battery providing between 8-10 hours of battery life.

Build quality is said to be “improved” by the pi-top team, and in our brief hands-on test we found it a more professional looking, and feeling, laptop; but one that still offers great potential for hacking and making. It’s still very much a laptop for makers and students.

“The first thing you do with pi-top is build it,” said Jesse Lozano, CEO of pi-top. Because student understand the internals, they “really focus on what you can build.”

New pi-top laptop sliding keyboard

Raspberry Pi inside the new pi-top laptop

A Raspberry Pi 3 is used to power the new pi-top laptop; it’s coupled to a passive cooling unit that keeps the power down. The cooling unit is not being used to overclock the Raspberry Pi 3, but to keep the system cool inside the pi-top enclosure. “With our cooling mechanism you can have more stuff running,” explained Jesse.

The laptop runs pi-topOS, an operating system based on Raspbian. As well as programs like Scratch and Minecraft Pi; pi-topOS has office apps likes Google Docs and LibreOffice, and Google Drive cloud storage support.

It also comes with dedicated coding tools such as pi-topCODER and CEEDuniverse (an adventure game where students need to solve visual programming puzzles). It’s the only education technology platform endorsed by the UK awarding board OCR (Oxford Cambridge RSA Review Board).

pi-top knolling shot

Inventors Kit and the new pi-top laptop

Included with the package is an Inventor’s Kit. This contains 20 parts and instructions for electronic projects. We saw a motion activated robot, wire game and a music machine built using LEDs and buttons.

The parts are used with the included pi-topPROTO+, a breadboard with GPIO breakout pins. The piTopPROTO+ clips into a hub connected to the Raspberry Pi, and sits on top of the new magnetic sliding module rail. This enables students to quickly remove and add components, such as a speaker, to the pi-top laptop.

“pi-top’s mission is to provide powerful, inspiring products that bring science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to life. Our newest-generation of modular laptops helps achieve that goal. Now, anyone from young musicians to scientists to software developers to inventors can explore and create wonderful new projects using the pi-top laptop. We’re offering learning beyond the screen and keyboard, enabling wider exploration of computer science and basic electronics, ensuring that young learners have the opportunity to be inspired by a world of STEAM-based learning.”

Students using the pi-top projects

New pi-top price and availability

The new pi-top is on sale today priced at $319, and is also available without a Raspberry Pi for $284.99. ModMyPi is listing it as £259 in the UK. The new pi-top laptop will be available at The Pi Hut, ModMyPi, RS,  and other retailers.

Win! GoPiGo3 robot kits and accessories