The Raspberry Pi is a great little Arm Linux board designed for STEM education. But with many children now have to learn remotely, the board would be useful as a computer replacement, but users may find web browsing on the Raspberry Pi to be rather sluggish.
Puffin Cloud Learning is designed just for that use case and promises to make the Raspberry Pi SBC much faster for web browsing, and they tested several websites, and for instance, CNN website loads almost 14 times faster with the Puffin Internet Terminal compared to using Chromium only.
The company also claims Puffin Internet Terminal is 1200% faster than Chromium using Octane 2.0 and Apple Jetstream benchmarks as examples with a Puffin accelerated Raspberry Pi even vastly outperforming a $350 HP Pavilion DM3 Laptop.
That’s impressive but is that really true? TomHardware gave it a try on Raspberry Pi 4, and while they noticed Puffin Internet Terminal was slightly faster at rendering the page it was a far cry from a 1200% improvement. Let’s watch the video shared by Puffin comparing Chromium and Puffin before commenting further.
The Raspberry Pi board looks really sluggish, which makes me believe they went with a Raspberry Pi Model B board using Broadcom BCM2835 ARM11 processor. It makes sense from a marketing perspective, and they are not directly lying because the slower the Raspberry Pi the faster the difference will be. Rendering a page in Chromium requires lots of processing power and memory (so the Pi may also be swapping a bit) while using Puffin is likely more akin to rendering a photo / screenshot.
If you want to give it a try check out the product page. It looks free to use, and you just need to flash the provided image to a MicroSD card, but they may be inserting ads in web pages (See eBay pages in the video above). Alternatively, there’s also a Puffin Web Browser for Android, and recent reviews are fairly negative due to disconnection issues. CloudMesa, the company behind the project, may experience growing pains with the amount of processing power in their Cloud potentially not quite sufficient to keep up with the demand.