Next Thing Co. crowd-funds a $9 Linux desktop

May 8, 2015 // 12:51 p.m.

Tags: #allwinner #arm #chip #chromium #computer #libreoffice #linux #lxde #microcomputer #next-thing-co

The Raspberry Pi has new competition in the form of a crowd-funding campaign for CHIP, an ultra-compact computer which its creators are selling for just $9 - with caveats.

The sub-£30 price of the Raspberry Pi at a time when single-board computers typically cost five or more times that figure made it attractive, but numerous similarly-priced competitors have emerged in the years since its launch. CHIP, from Next Thing Co., is the latest - and at $9, one of the cheapest to offer a full desktop-class computing experience for its users.

Significantly smaller than the already-diminutive Raspberry Pi, the CHIP has sacrificed a few features along the way - which is where the pricing caveats come in. The standard $9 model, of which there is a limit of 5,000 units for Kickstarter backers, has a composite video output; adding HDMI, built-in to the Pi, increases the cost to $24, while VGA is available as a halfway-house between the two at $19. In all cases, there's shipping to account for - which, for UK backers, increases the $9 model to a rather less impressive $29.

All models include a 1GHz AllWinner ARM processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of integrated storage, along with 802.11/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity - a feature missing from its berry-themed rival. The system runs Linux with the Lxde desktop, promising laptop- or desktop-class functionality including the LibreOffice productivity suite, Chromium web browser and support for game emulation. A Pocket CHIP model adds a basic keyboard and 4.3" touch-screen display, along with a battery capable of running the device for up to five hours.

The campaign has already proven a smashing success, rasising nearly $140,000 at the time of writing on a mere $50,000 goal and with 29 days still to run. More information is available on the campaign website.
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