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.