July 17, 2017 // 11:37 a.m.
Asus has announced a partnership with UK-based Fuze to launch a version of the company's eponymous educational computing bundle powered by a Tinker Board single-board computer (SBC) in place of the traditional Raspberry Pi.
Launched earlier this year, the Asus Tinker Board had a rocky start: When the hardware first became available Asus had yet to finish the software with which to drive it, eventually making an early Linux build available which contained serious bugs and shortcomings. Given the relatively impressive specifications of the board itself - a 1.8GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A17 processor, 2GB of RAM, and an ARM Mali T760 GPU with 4K output, among other upgrades over its rivals - it was a true disappointment and one from which Asus has been working hard to recover.
As part of that recovery, the company has announced a partnership with UK-based educational computing specialist Fuze to create versions of the Fuze Workstation bundles featuring a Tinker Board rather than a Raspberry Pi. In both cases, the design of the bundle remains the same as those presently available: A metal chassis designed to evoke memories of the classic Acorn BBC Micro computers encloses the compact SBC and provides an easily accessible breakout board and solderless breadboard to the upper surface along with a built-in keyboard.
The first of the two bundles will include the chassis with Tinker Board pre-installed, Fuze IO breakout board with integrated analogue-to-digital converter (ADC), a 16GB SD card with Fuze-customised Linux operating system and a copy of Fuze BASIC, and PDF reference guides and worksheets for experimental electronics projects targeted at beginners. The model up, meanwhile, adds the components necessary to actually build the projects, mouse, mouse-mat, and a USB-connected robot arm kit.
'The Asus Tinker Board is a great addition to the Fuze lineup and with its increased performance over the Raspberry Pi it makes learning to code with Fuze more accessible than ever,' claimed Fuze chief executive Jon Silvera of the partnership. 'The support we've received in this project from Asus has been fantastic and very generous. We are quite literally honoured to be working with them.'
The entry-level Fuze Workstation TB-D is priced at £149.99 (inc. VAT); the higher-end Fuze Workstation TB-R is £249.99 (inc. VAT). These contrast with £99.99 for the Raspberry Pi 3-based Fuze T2-D and £199.99 for the Fuze T2-R bundles (both inc. VAT). No launch date has yet been provided by either company.