In the eight and a few years since the first edition was released, the Raspberry Pi has generally been sold as a modular computer. You purchase the board individually, install an SD card, attach your own peripherals, and then get to work with your own computer project.
The Foundation watched as third parties, including Kano, developed around the Raspberry Pi their own all-in-one PC solutions, leading it to build its own PC Kit, which bundled all the technology required to deploy a completely working desktop or coding workstation. Now, with the introduction of the Raspberry Pi 400, a full personal computer built into a 78-key keyboard that starts at $70.
The Pi 400 has almost the same size of the official keyboard and hub of the Raspberry Pi, but with all the additional ports and connectors required to turn it into a PC. In addition to 4 GB of RAM, dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, Gigabit Ethernet and three USB ports (two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0), the power is given by the same, but slightly tuned, quad-core Broadcom BCM2711 processor used in the Raspberry Pi 4. There are also two micro HDMI slots, a GPIO header and a microSD card slot for OS and data storage.
The $70 Computer Unit is the no-frills option: you basically get the keyboard and need to add your own power and accessories. However, a localized power supply, mouse, a pre-formatted 16 GB microSD card, a Beginner’s Guide and a 1M micro HDMI to HDMI-A cable are included in the $100 Pi 400 Computer Kit. It is quite similar, but with much fewer components, to the Desktop Kit.
The hope is the form factor of the Pi 400, plus these available bundled items make it more usable and user-friendly. That’s important When you sell an inexpensive computer, and it’s incredibly important when you sell an open system to help children learn to code.
According to the Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton, the inspiration behind the Pi 400 came from “challenges for less-technical users in configuring a device with lots of parts, often without hands-on support because of COVID-related restrictions on home visits.”
“The all-in-one form factor is about simplifying the setup for people who just want to use their Raspberry Pi as a PC. Fewer components on the desk mean less clutter, faster setup and teardown times, and fewer opportunities to misconfigure the device. It actually also brings some cost savings, so the kit is significantly cheaper than the Pi 4 4GB Desktop Kit ($100 vs $120 RRP).”
For people who want the flexibility of the original form factor, or want to purchase models of different memory capabilities, the Raspberry Pi Desktop Kits will remain on sale. Since the proportional cost savings are very small, the company does not currently have any intentions to sell a 2 GB variant of the Pi 400 but may opt to offer a beefier model for “large corporate or educational deployments where the accumulated cost saving is worthwhile” later down the line.
The Raspberry Pi 400 is available starting today. The $100 package is currently available in the UK, the US and France, and will be available in Italy, Germany and Spain starting next week. Meanwhile, in the UK, US, France, and Germany, the $70 standalone version is now available, and next week it’s coming to Italy and Spain. By the end of the year, releases in India, Australia, and New Zealand will follow.