2 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

  • Matha Goram

    Camera and speaker included in the kit?

  • Speaker is a $20 accessory (has a headphone socket tho’) and you can add USB Camera if you want.

  • 319???!!! You can buy a proper laptop + Arduino for your “inventing” needs for the same price!

  • Lex

    Tbh, didn’t read the article… Guess, it’s not an official RasPi project? Would be understandable then. PS: When I see the keyboard, I wanna puke…

  • Zenkada

    Exactly, I bought the lenovo thinkpad x230 for 220usd. It is decent laptop and cost less.

  • Lex

    Yeah well, you are one of the few ThinkPad users 😛 I (re)bought my X200 a few months ago for only 95 €. Sure, this model is already very old by today’s standards, but it’s still enough for browsing, streaming, office stuff and light CAD work. And this without SSD.

  • Wilson Bradley

    I would be interested in how much profit margin is on this. HDMI LCD=$40, keyboard/pad /case = $40, circuit board=15.. Probably less than $100 to produce without Pi. Why not make it a non-profit for Children learning and 3rd world countries? Ironic marketing chose a photo of kids using it as a teaching aid. Make it affordable for schools.

  • Just ask the AXIS

    Yes affordable for schools…Like 10 piTops for $319

  • Ian Hollis

    Bought the original PiTop laptop minus Raspberry Pi during the initial crowd funding campaign. It was US $275 plus US$50 postage and handling to Australia. That came to $AUD 400 minus RPi 2/3. It isn’t too bad as a 1st attempt, but keyboard was chicklet style and pretty poor for the price. Also had a slew of issues with battery – if you let it drain it wouldn’t recharge. I’m on 2nd keyboard and 2nd battery unit – all covered by warranty.

    The 13.3 inch screen is very nice with matte finish so no reflections, and battery life is up to 15 hours on low to moderate use. Raspberry Pi 3 is best but model 2 is usable. With just 1GB RAM you need to relearn patience and multitasking is limited. 128MB is used for video memory using PiTopOS but you can get away with 64MB using Pixel.

    The PiTop is for tinkerers, makers, dabblers and enthusiasts. Does not run Windows (anything) only Linux ports. But if you are OK with Linux and want something very few people have it’s a great little machine.

    Also check out much cheaper PiTop CEED desktop unit as more affordable entry unit.