Last year, the Raspberry Pi 4 hit the market, promising all the essential guts that make up a surprisingly powerful computer for just $35. Add a $5 case and you have a basic computer—with USB ports, up to 4 GB RAM, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi for less than you spent on election night pizza. But diving into Raspberry Pi’s DIY-driven, hacker-friendly world can still be intimidating. Now, however, the company has released a $70 complete computer package based on the Raspberry Pi 4 and the whole thing fits inside a rather normal-looking keyboard.
For $70, you get a 64-bit processor, 4 GB RAM, support for 4K and dual displays, and full wireless support. With those kinds of specs, you shouldn’t expect to do any heavy computing, but the Raspberry Pi OS is more than capable of handling everyday tasks like email, web browsing, and even some light media consumption.
As with many of its pre-built machines, Raspberry Pi sees the 400 as something of a hacking Trojan horse that will give users the desire to crack it open and start tinkering. The GPIO (short for general-purpose input/output) pins are exposed, so it’s simple to add accessory modules like cameras, LED arrays, motor controllers, and countless other input devices directly to the machine. That’s when you can start making things like musical instruments, high-speed photography rigs, or any other weird contraption your imagination can think of.
But, even if you’re not into hacking, the 400 is still an interesting machine. For $100, you get an entire kit, which includes a power supply, an HDMI cable, a mouse, and a user’s guide for getting started. It’s not meant to be a main computer, but it could be useful for people looking for a basic way to access word processing software for distraction-free writing.
The keyboard itself is a full-sized input device, so it’s ready to handle actual work tasks without cramping your fingers together into a small space. Because it uses HDMI to connect, it’s easy to bring the whole thing with you any place you might have access to a monitor or even most HDTVs, so you can get setup pretty much anywhere.
If you want to get the most out of it, however, keep your mind open to its potential for DIY computer shenanigans. And, you might find some coding or engineering inspiration. Bonus: If you accidentally nuke it with your wild ideas, at least you’re only out $70.
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