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The New Pi-Top Modular Laptop includes a 14″ Display, Sliding Keyboard, and Better Cooling

Pi-Top was first launched in late 2014 via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, as a modular DIY laptop powered by a Raspberry Pi board. It’s equipped with a 13.3” LCD screen with 1366×768 resolution, and uses a sliding top cover placed between the display and the keyboard where you could insert your Raspberry Pi with enough space for extra hardware.

This is a good week for DIY ARM laptops, as after the launch of Olimex TERES-I laptop yesterday, Pi-Top team has announced a new version of Pi-Top modular laptop with an larger 14″ display with 1920×1080 resolution, a sliding keyboard, and better cooling with a passive cooling unit for the Raspberry Pi 3 board.

Pi-Top 2017 laptop specifications:

  • Display  – 14” full HD LCD screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 180° screen angle range
  • Keyboard – 105mm sliding keyboard for internal access (US layout)
  • Touchpad – 104x75mm trackpad with Gesture Control
  • Officially Supported Board – Raspberry Pi 3 with Broadcom BCM2837 SoC, HDMI, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, Audio jack, micro SD slot, camera and display interface
  • Modular Rail for pi-top accessories
  • Power Supply – 18V, 2.5A charger with AU, EU, UK and US adapters
  • Battery – Good for 6-8 hour battery life

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The kit also includes an 8GB class 10 SD CARD with pi-topOS and an SD Card Removal Tool. pi-topOS is a firmware image specifically designed for Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi-Top with components such as pi-topCLASSROOM online classroom management software, pi-topCODER intuitive coding environment, CEEDuniverse educational space exploration game, and pi-topDASHBOARD interface.

While the company only officially supports Raspberry Pi 3, it should be possible to use other boards that are electrically and mechanically compatible to Raspberry Pi 3 board such as ODROID-C2 or ROCK64, but you may have to work on the software side. The most adventurous could also try other boards, as Bero (Linaro) used a 96Boards compliant DragonBoard 820c board in the older version of Pi-Top with some custom cabling.

The new Pi-Top can be purchased for $319.99 including shipping with a Raspberry Pi 3, or $284.99 without. A free Inventor Kit with a breadboard, and various modules and components to get started with DIY electronics.

  1. willy
    October 13th, 2017 at 22:13 | #1

    This could be a good idea for a low cost, use-everywhere laptop. The RPi isn’t quite beefy but indeed there are alternatives nowadays and the principle of making it easy to replace the motherboard is nice for this reason.

    I was initially happy to see that they used real keys and not Fn combinations for PgUp,PgDn,Home,End, until I noticed that they simply decided to remove the Insert key! So no more copy-paste to terminals 🙁 Maybe one of the strange looking keys on the left of the Del key can be remapped for this, but it’s annoying these days to see keyboards constantly reinvented by people who apparently only use a mouse and who think they know better than their users what they need. I already predict the removal of Tab and Enter very soon given how many people click in web forms instead of using the keys that are 1cm away from their fingers :-/

  2. sola
    October 13th, 2017 at 22:23 | #2

    This is an interesting concept but I see some issues with the actual implementation:

    – It would have been better to keep the 13.3″ form factor (maybe even go down to 12″ or 11.6″) and target the secondary, ultra-portable laptop role (which is suited better to the performance of the Raspberry Pi).

    – There should be a higher performance computing module offered, not only the Pi3. The Pi3 is fairly weak with those A53 cores. Something along the lines of 2 x Cortex-A73 @ 2.5 Ghz + 4 x Cortex-A53 @1.0 Ghz. I am unsure if the Pi3 can even handle some intensive browsing sessions with lots of greedy tabs.

    – The $285 price (without the compute module) is way-way too high for a 14″ generic, non-IPS, fullHD screen, plastic case and keyboard. Something like $100 would be appealing for this. For this price, I would expect a beautiful metal case, a 13.3″ IPS screen and superb keyboard+touchpad. In comparison, the Olimex TERES-I costs 240 EUR and while it only comes with a 11.6″ HD, TN screen, the compute module is as strong as the Pi3 and is already included in the price.

  3. tkaiser
    October 13th, 2017 at 22:59 | #3

    willy :
    This could be a good idea for a low cost, use-everywhere laptop.

    Idea? Well, the implementation is a clumsy and expensive brick. I guess there’s a reason why their ‘tech specs’ neither mention display type nor device dimensions. This thing is wedge-shaped and judging by a short look the height with closed display might be up to 50mm at the side where the display hinges are.

    @sola
    When comparing with TERES-I VAT and customs situation should be considered especially when talking about EU customers.

  4. paul M
    October 13th, 2017 at 23:29 | #4

    @sola is right. at this price I expect some premium components.

  5. peter
    October 14th, 2017 at 14:52 | #5

    Despite being a bit pricey, it’s actually a neat machine for kids starting to fiddle around with SBCs. Makes way more sense to me than Chromebooks or even iPads, which I see quite often in schools.

  6. Jerry
    October 15th, 2017 at 06:40 | #6

    RPi is especially good for this due to GPU drivers. Most users use RPi as a HTPC anyways.

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