RT Cunningham


I Hope My Next Computer will be a Raspberry Pi, or Something Like It

Raspberry PiI hope my next computer will be a Raspberry Pi. or something like it. Three years ago, I said my next computer would be a traditional desktop computer. Since my next computer was a laptop computer, I was obviously wrong. I say “hope” because I can’t predict the future, especially when I have two laptops that still work, one of which is less than two years old.

Why a Raspberry Pi?

I like the idea of a modular computer system, where all I have to do is plug in the peripherals or wirelessly connect them. It doesn’t have to be a Raspberry Pi if I can find an alternative that’s just as good or better.

With a modular computer system like this, it shouldn’t be too hard to limit it to only one wired peripheral. Unless I’m mistaken, you can’t connect an external solid state drive without using a USB cable. Bluetooth and other dongles can connect some things through the USB ports and screen mirroring can bypass the HDMI ports. A small, modern TV is incredibly inexpensive these days.

Costs and Kits

Although the base model is inexpensive, the costs can increase when you start adding the basics. CanaKit sells a 4 GB starter kit for around $99. It may be less expensive if you pick only what you need.

As I mentioned when I wrote about using a mini PC, the Raspberry Pi just isn’t where it needs to be yet. I need support for up to 8 gigabytes of RAM and USB4-compatible ports, not 4 and USB 3. I could probably work around other limitations.

A Raspberry Pi Cannot Replace a Laptop Computer

At least, not yet. Even if you make it as portable as possible, you still have to connect at least one peripheral that isn’t portable. No matter how small the TV can be, it won’t fit in a laptop bag. Everything else probably will.

Since most homes have one or more televisions in them, skipping the TV portability shouldn’t be an issue. That is, as long as the televisions have HDMI ports. I haven’t seen any, other than surplus, that didn’t have HDMI ports.

Still, the clam shell laptop computer design is hard to beat. It’s self-contained for the most part. Except for the smaller keys (smaller than USB keyboards), it’s pretty easy to use. I won’t use the touch/track pad because it annoys me too much. The only peripheral I absolutely need is a mouse, preferably wireless. That may change, of course, if I start using touch screens (which I don’t like either).

I hope the next version of the Raspberry Pi (beyond model 4B) will be beefy enough to make me want to give up my laptop computer. If it does end up being that much better, it will be a snap to replace just those items that die on me without having to buy the whole enchilada all over again. That’s the one thing I really hate about laptop computers.

Unfortunately, I’m probably looking at five or more years into the future.

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By RT Cunningham
September 25, 2019