The UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the 4th generation of its micro PC board – a Raspberry Pi 4 that for a $35 barebones price has 4X the RAM of earlier versions, as well as a faster CPU and graphics, faster Ethernet, dual-band Wi-Fi, twice the amount of HDMI outputs, and two USB 3 ports.
The $35 unit comes with 1 GB of RAM and 2 costs $45, while 4 is $55. It is important to note that the final cost of a PI will be more as things like a power supply, SD card, case and cables are still needed, but is still going to be cheaper than, for example, and entry-level Intel NUC.
Low-costs Pis have been used for digital signage since the first version was debuted roughly five years ago, and successive versions have added more capability. It helped, a lot, if the software company using Raspberry Pi hardware invested the time and resources to get the most of the units.
Here’s the launch video:
I’d imagine the same thing will apply here, as some testing by Tom’s Hardware found the Pi 4 would struggle running full screen YouTube. “Unfortunately, even streaming 1080p YouTube videos is a challenge at this point. Running at 1080p resolution, full screen video trailer for Stranger Things showed obvious jerkiness. However, the playback was smooth when I watched the same clip in a smaller window. The same problem occurred, even when I dropped the stream’s resolution down to 480p. Playing offline 1080p videos works well, provided your screen is at 1920 x 1080 or lower resolution. A downloaded trailer of Avenger’s Endgame was perfectly smooth when I watched it using the VLC player.”
I’ve seen enough Pi demos to know even V1 could easily run full-screen HD video, and if you read the review, it generally raves about the device.
The official specs say it can do 4K from dual outputs.
Two UK companies – Screenly and Silver Curve – have arguably the most experience around with using Pi for signage.
Says Viktor Petersson of Screenly:
“The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is a big deal, and, from a digital signage perspective, it’s one of the most significant updates we’ve seen from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. We are really excited about the prospect of more RAM, 4K support, and the ability to render content to two screens from a single device. We still need to do more long-term stability testing before officially supporting the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, but we are very optimistic.”
For the nerds out there, here are the specs:
- Broadcom BCM2711, Quad core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz
- 1GB, 2GB or 4GB LPDDR4-2400 SDRAM (depending on model)
- 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz IEEE 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0, BLE
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 2 USB 3.0 ports; 2 USB 2.0 ports.
- Raspberry Pi standard 40 pin GPIO header (fully backwards compatible with previous boards)
- 2 × micro-HDMI ports (up to 4kp60 supported)
- 2-lane MIPI DSI display port
- 2-lane MIPI CSI camera port
- 4-pole stereo audio and composite video port
- H.265 (4kp60 decode), H264 (1080p60 decode, 1080p30 encode)
- OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics
- Micro-SD card slot for loading operating system and data storage
- 5V DC via USB-C connector (minimum 3A*)
- 5V DC via GPIO header (minimum 3A*)
- Power over Ethernet (PoE) enabled (requires separate PoE HAT)
- Operating temperature: 0 – 50 degrees C ambient
* A good quality 2.5A power supply can be used if downstream USB peripherals consume less than 500mA in total.
Good piece here from The Register …
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.