Orange Pi From Shenzhen Undercuts Raspberry Pi Price By Half


The busiest post day to day on this blog – by a considerable margin – is one listing the various options to make digital signage projects happen with $35 Raspberry Pi single board computers.

So I know there is a substantial constituency out there of people who are determined to cut as much as cost as they can out of these projects. That constituency will therefore be intrigued by something not very creatively called the Orange Pi – a $15 single board computer that chops that obscenely overpriced Raspberry Pi cost by more half.

The Orange Pi PC sports an Allwinner H3 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and has OS support for Android or Linux software. The specs suggest it supports 4K video and can run compressed h.265 video. It’s an ARM Cortex-A7 processor with Mali-400 graphics, and has HDMI and AV ports, an IR receiver, Ethernet,  three USB 2.0 ports, a micro USB port, an AV port, a built-in microphone, and a 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible header.

As with the Raspberry Pi, you need to add stuff like a case and various cables and power supplies, which can double or triple actual costs. Unlike the Raspberry Pi, which was created in the UK to help schoolkids and hobbyists affordably learn computing skills, Orange Pi is clearly a commercial product, emanating from one of the countless little computing companies in Shenzhen, China.

Would I advocate something like this for a real network? Nope. Would it do just fine as a one-off project managed by propeller-heads. Probably. Are there better options that still cost next to nothing? Yup.

As always, bear in mind the truly important bits – and real ongoing costs – are not the things that drive content programming. It’s the content itself.


Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes


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  • Brad says:

    Saw this on a Maker site over the weekend – really happy to see you point out that this is not ready for prime time. Even as a propeller hat wearing nerd, I would never deploy this as it would become one more thing I get to babysit.

  • The orange pi is notorious in the maker community due to lack of support and poor quality OS images. It would be next to impossible to use this for anything other than tinkering. TBH, at this price, anyone who is expecting anything that resembles “support” should have their head checked.

    However – it is a remarkable testament to just how much tech you can get for a 15$ BOM. The price almost guarantees that the manufacturer is purchasing grey market “refurb” components from Huaqiangbei.

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