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Raspberry Pi mini PC a fun little desktop computer!

I recently been using the $35 Raspberry Pi Model B 512MB version as a mini desktop computer which you can use for many tasks like playing classic games like Quake 3, watching video with XBMC, making a web server, using as a wireless router, and other tasks while also saving money since the Pi only cost $35, and it uses very little electricity. I seen videos online of people using the Pi to make a mini laptop, classic game console for playing older games, using it as a media player, making a digital camera, robotics, and many other fun, and interesting activities.

I like how quiet the Raspberry pi is since it uses a SD card instead of a hard drive, and it has no cooling fans, so there is no noise from the Raspberry Pi like a traditional laptop or desktop which makes noise because of mechanical hard drives, disc drives, and cooling fans. The Raspberry Pi also uses very little power since it uses a Micro-USB Cell phone charger to power it, and the CPU, RAM, and other parts on the Pi does not use a lot of electricity.

The Raspberry Pi also does not generate much heat, so it would not heat up your room like more power hungry, and hotter running computers. You also do not have to manually clean dust out of the case fans on a Raspberry Pi like a traditional PC and laptop because the Pi has no fans, and don’t require additional cooling.

The Raspberry Pi is a good computer for using XBMC to stream/play video and music from a USB drive, the internet, or another computer you own. It is also good computer for learning about computer programming since Rasbian, which is the Raspberry Pi operating system, comes bundle with computer programming programs.

The Pi also can be used as a web browsing computer for browsing smaller text and image based website like forums, blogs, and static websites, but it would be a slow experience when browsing bigger websites with lots of animation, images, and background music compared to browsing the bigger site on a regular desktop computer. I recommend using the Midori, or Netsurf web browser which comes bundled with the Raspbian operating system for the Pi. There is also Ice Weasel Firefox and Chromium ,and Opensource version of Google Chrome, web browser which you can install manually on the Pi.  I used the Pi to visit blogs, forums, e-mail websites, news sites, and search engines. The Pi loads most sites at a reasonable speed. The speed of page loading takes a few seconds more than a desktop PC which is more powerful. If your internet connection is not very fast, you may not notice much slow down when loading sites. But, I recommend only having 1-3 tabs open on your web browser on the Pi because having too many tabs open may slow down your Pi.

The Raspberry Pi is also fast enough to play MP3 sound files in VLC media player, but you would need to use Raspbmc or OpenElec to easily play video without slowdown problems. Although, in Raspbian, you can use OMXplayer from the command line to open videos. In my experience, using OMXplayer plays videos more smoothly, but it is harder to use than VLC media player, or Raspberry pi compatible operating system for media playback like Rasbmc, or OpenElec. Although, there is a program called TBOplayer which makes using OMXplayer easier to use, but TBOplayer is more difficult to install, and launch from the command line in Raspbian.

The Raspberry Pi maybe slower than most Windows and Mac based desktop and laptop computers, but the Raspberry Pi is a lot less likely to be infected by a virus, spyware, malware, and bloatware like paid traditional operating systems like Windows or Mac. The Pi runs on Linux which is one of the most safest operating systems in the world. Also, the Pi does not require maintenance like disk defrag because it runs its operating on a SD Card which performance does not become slower because of disk fragmentation like a mechanical hard drive. The Pi is also more comfortable to use than a laptop because you can connect the Pi to your TV, monitor, or projector which is more comfortable to look at than a smaller laptop screen, and you can pick your own keyboard and mouse for the Pi which makes typing, and mousing on the Pi more comfortable. The Pi also is one of the cheapest computers which don’t make noise, or needs fans for cooling, so the Pi is great for watching video, taking notes, typing, and reading since fan and hard drive noise won’t bother you while you are watching a video, typing out a letter/homework, or reading a story on a document or news website.

If you need more performance from a Raspberry Pi, you can turn on Turbo Mode in the Raspbian operating system by typing sudo raspi-config in the command prompt/LXterminal to turn on Turbo Mode in raspi-config which raises the speed of the CPU to 1GHz for faster performance when doing more intensive tasks like gaming. Learn more about Turbo Mode at http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/tag/turbo-mode . Turbo Mode would not void your warranty while providing 50% more performance. Although, if your power adapter for the Pi does not have 1A of current and 5V of voltage, your Pi maybe unstable, or not startup. I been using Turbo Mode on my Pi with a power adapter with 1A of current and 5V of voltage, and have not experience any problems with my Pi.

It is also easy to try different Linux operating systems with the Raspberry Pi because you just need to load them onto a SD card 2-4GB or bigger. After you prepared the SD Cards in Windows, Mac, or Linux, you just need to insert them into the Pi’s SD card reader slot, and plug the Pi’s power adapter into your wall’s power outlet.

The customization for the Pi is also very fun because I can pick my own case like SB Raspberry Pi Case (Clear) or even make my own case out of plastic, LEGO, and non-metal materials to protect my Pi from damage. I can also buy small heatsinks to stick to the Pi chips to better cool the Pi and the heatsink especially copper heatsinks also look nice on the Pi if you use a clear plastic case for the Pi.

There are also a lot of cool accessories like Wi-Fi adaptor, monitors, touchscreens, camera, lights, wires, switches, adapters, speakers, and cases compatible with the Raspberry Pi.

There are also affordable Raspberry Pi kits like CanaKit Raspberry Pi (512 MB) Complete Starter Kit (Raspberry Pi 512 MB + Clear Case + Micro USB Power Supply + Original Preloaded SD Card + HDMI Cable) for the Raspberry Pi which come with the Raspberry pi computer, SD card, case, video cable, power adapter, and other accessory for the Pi to make putting together a Pi simpler without the need to find the right size and speed of SD card, loading a card with NOOBS or SD card image to SD card, buying the right power supply, and usb cable, picking the right HDMI cable, and these kits also come with a protective case to protect your Pi. Buying a Raspberry Pi kit is probably cheaper than going to a a regular retail store to buy a 8GB Class 10 SD card, micro USB power adapter/charger with 1A of current and 5V of voltage, HDMI cable, and the Raspberry Pi individually, and you don’t even get a case which is hard to buy if you don’t buy the case on the internet from an online store like Amazon. Plus, most of the accessories from Raspberry Pi like power adapter, HDMI cable, SD card, and case are higher quality, and compatible with the Pi compared to randomly buying a bunch of cheap accessories from an online store, or locally, and you may end up spending more paying for shipping multiple items from different companies instead of just paying to ship from one company, or not needing to pay because Amazon ships items for free after spending $35, replacing bad power adapters, corrupt SD cards, and faulty HDMI video cables than buying a Kit for the Raspberry Pi where all items usually work with the Pi.

You would need a USB keyboard, and mouse, Ethernet cable or USB Wi-Fi adapter for internet/networking, and a HDMI monitor, or a HDMI to DVI or HDMI to VGA cable converter for older monitors. If you do not own a monitor with HDMI ports, and don’t want to use a HDMI to VGA or DVI converter, you can use an analog RCA/Composite video cable which is usually colored yellow, and also have a red and white audio cable for stereo sound from a old DVD player or camcorder to connect the Pi’s video to your TV. Some portable DVD players with a built-in screen also let you connect video devices like the Raspberry Pi, game consoles, and cameras to the portable DVD players’ screen.

You can use a remote desktop client like VNC, to login into your Pi from another desktop or laptop computer, but using a monitor or TV is easier, and cheaper because you won’t need a secondary computer to login to the Pi, and you also don’t need a home network, or internet connection to connect the Pi to your computer via remote desktop, SSH, or FTP.

If your HDMI monitor does not have speakers, you would need to use a pair of 3.5 mm speakers, or headphones to listen to sound and music on the Pi through the 3.5mm speakers connected to the 3.5MM sound port on the Pi.

The Raspberry Pi is a fun little computer which can do many things like play classic games, listen to MP3s, watch HD video, and browse the web, and the Pi also uses very little power, and does not generate a lot of heat. The Pi is also very affordable at $35 for the computer.

The Raspberry Pi is also very cheap to repair since SD cards, Pi case, power adapter with Micro USB cable, HDMI cables, USB keyboard, and mouse, and ethernet cables are all very inexpensive, and can be bought for $10 or less, so replacing broken accessories for the Pi does not cost much money compared to replacing a hard drive which can cost $100 or more on a regular computer or laptop. The $35 Raspberry Pi is also cheap to replace if it breaks in the future, but it is less likely to break if you install it in a protective case made for the Pi, use a high quality power adapter for the Pi, and also plug in the Pi into a surge protected power bar to protect your Pi from power surges and spikes.

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