It sucks because it’s expensive. Or at least it’s expensive for how lame the hardware provided is.
The other day I got a Mele a1000 box for which I will do a full review soon, I hope. But I really need to get the word out: this thing kicks Raspberry PI in the ass so hard it’s not even funny.
For starters, it costs twice as much. Which may seem bad, but trust me, even at twice the cost, it’s cheaper. Because if you are the kind of person for whom the $35 makes a difference, then you are also probably someone who doesn’t have a HDMI-capable TV or monitor. And the Mele works with HDMI, but also with RCA connectors and VGA, which means pretty much any TV or monitor manufactured in the last 20 years will work in a pinch. You can repurpose ancient monitors (1024x768 CRTs from 1996? WORKS FINE) that are available everywhere.
Also, it comes with Wifi, wihch the Pi doesn’t. And of course Ethernet, too.
It comes with 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM. The Pi? None and 256mb. See a pattern here? You pay twice as much and it comes with more than twice as much hardware in it.
Also, it has two USB connectors (1 in the Pi model A, 2 in the Pi model B).
One important feature: it comes in a box. A nice, sturdy, small box, that can be nicely placed so that it doesn’t break apart.
The CPU is several times faster and several generations more modern. The GPU is slightly less powerful, but you won’t notice, the only thing the Pi can do with that GPU is decode video really quick, for anything remotely interesting the CPU is a bottleneck.
And both are proprietary, but at least someone is working on open Mali400 drivers.
The Mele is useful out of the box, you can just install Ubuntu on it, or use Android, which is open source. It’s fully rooted, you don’t need to do anything strange to install other operating systems in it (just like the Pi!) except that since the CPU is so much better, it can just do stuff easier.
Did I mention that while the Pi has only a SD card for storage while the Mele has 4GB of flash, and a SD slot, and an eSata slot? And that using that it could be a nice small file server?
And the kicker: it’s not a charity. It’s $70 because you are paying a business to create the things, and doesn’t depend on getting severely discounted chips from Broadcom, it just is a good product at a good price. And that’s just awesome because it means in 2 years we will have something about as powerful as the Mele at the Pi’s pricepoint, and something much more powerful at the Mele’s price, and that’s sustainable, because the people who are building it and designing it, and selling it, and shipping it, are making a living out of it, while kicking the ass of the charity. And that’s good. And if you want 100000 of these, you order them, and you get them, instead of having to pre-buy, and wait months, and see them ship in tiny batches.
So, buy this, or something like it.
Also: $92.60 with free shipping