You'd be a fool to say that the technology industry wasn't growing at an extremely fast pace. It seems as if I only wrote my article on the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero computer yesterday, but lo and behold, we already have another contender in the race. Meet the PINE A64 computer, a computer that promises an amazing cost to performance ratio.
So if you're familiar with the Raspberry Pi, then chances are that you'll already have a clear cut idea of the premise behind the PINE A64. For those of you who haven't heard about the Raspberry Pi, it is essentially a bare-bones computer aimed towards the DIY crowd or for people getting into computers. The PINE A64 is also generally the same thing, it isn't a powerhouse by any means, but it is a great pickup if you have an extra $15 laying around.
What really sets the PINE A64 apart from other computers in its class is the fact that is has a 64-bit processor. The ARM A53 CPU is said to deliver 20-30% better performance than its 32-bit peers. The base PINE A64 unit also comes with 2 expansion slots to accommodate for potential upgrades such as camera modules and touch panels, while the more premium PINE A64+ comes with an additional 3 expansion slots. In terms of other things the PINE A64 comes equipped with, both the PINE A64 and PINE A64+ have the same Cortex A53 processors clocked at 1.2Ghz, 2 USB ports, an Ethernet port, an HDMI output and a 3.5mm jack output for audio. What sets the A64+ apart from the regular A64 is the as mentioned additional expansion slots, and other things such as how the 64 has 1GB of DDR3 RAM compared to the 512mb on the regular A64, or how the A64+ supports Gigabit Ethernet connections while the regular A64 is only capable of 10/100Mbps. For a more in depth look, please refer to the chart below.
As you may or may not have noticed from that chart, the A64 is capable of outputting 4K video. This is a very premium feature considering how cheap the device is. It is also capable of running solely as a Android 5.1 computer, complete with web browser support and Office application support. You can even install a variety of apps and stream content from things like Netflix and YouTube, or play games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, all for $15. Now jumping back onto that Android note, it is indeed possible to run Android 5.1 as its operating system. If that doesn't float your boat, well, you could also run Ubuntu or openHAB as operating systems. The A64 also supports microSD cards of up to 256GB of storage so you could essentially swap operating systems by swapping the microSD card.
Wrapping things up here, there are 2 different versions of the PINE A64 which you already know. The PINE A64 will be the one that will run you $15 while the PINE A64+ will cost you $19, which in my opinion, is totally worth it over the base model. There are also other packages that you can buy which bundle together preloaded microSD cards, enclosures, modules and more. What do you think? Is the PINE A64 worth it? Is it a worthy contender to the Raspberry Pi? Leave your thoughts below!