(Tech Xplore)—A new portable, modular laptop has come on the scene, a laptop powered by the Raspberry Pi. One notable feature is its sliding keyboard.
You can call it a new generation laptop. Clear any marketing lingo, though, and you still get an impressive electronic design platform that can be useful for encouraging young people's interest in coding and building electronics.
A Friday announcement datelined London said that an education tech company launched the modular laptop— the release said end users complete the final assembly of the pi-top laptop through a few simple steps.
The laptop's display is a 14-inch 1080p screen.
The company is pi-top and the CEO is Jesse Lozano. He said, "We're offering learning beyond the screen and keyboard, enabling wider exploration of computer science and basic electronics."
The QWERTY keyboard is actually a sliding keyboard that provides access to an in-built modular rail for enabling "custom-built invention" projects.
"Pull it toward you," said Nick Summers, Associate Editor, Engadget UK, "and a large tray is revealed underneath with a Raspberry Pi 3 board and space for additional parts."
Andrew London in TechRadar gave an especially apt description of what this laptop design involves: "a keyboard panel that slides down, exposing the Raspberry Pi, the Cooling Bridge and the modular track that other elements can be plugged into. These elements include a unit called Pulse which has a speaker, a microphone and an LED pad, allowing you to turn your Pi-top into an Alexa-compatible device."
Projects and themes range from music to space themes (like Music Master, Space Race). Entertainment applications include Minecraft for Pi and CEEDuniverse, a space exploration game.
The release said that in using the included software suite, users can browse the web, check emails, and have access to a work suite.
The site spelled this out further, saying the laptop provides office tasks of a regular desktop "with the use of Libre office (compatible with Microsoft office)" which allows the user to create such items as documents and spreadsheets.
Battery life is 8+ hours. In creating the platform, the pi-top team said they "incorporated feedback from over 1,000 teachers, students and schools." The news release also said the platform integrates elements of STEAM learning.
Lozano said the platform draws on multi-disciplinary STEAM strategies "where new knowledge is constructed rather than transmitted."
TechRadar quoted Lozano: "You can watch someone swimming on YouTube all you want, if you jump into a lake, you won't know how to swim."
The system is priced at $319 but without a Raspberry Pi it is $284.99. The laptop is available from the pi-top website and resellers. (RS Components said on Friday that it was ready to supply the pi-top modular laptop.)