Raspberry Pi Alternatives

Raspberry Pi Alternatives

“The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming.”

There are two models of Raspberry Pi, Model A is priced at $25, Model B is $35 and adds one Ethernet port.

Raspberry Pi Model B

Raspberry Pi and WiFi

Both models of the Raspberry Pi have a USB port that can be used to add WiFi connectivity to the device. Any USB WiFi dongle that works with Linux and has a driver for an Arm processor should work. I had hoped to purchase a Raspberry Pi Model B and confirm this but was not able to buy a board when they went on sale.

Actually, I’m glad I didn’t buy a Raspberry Pi Model B because it forced me to look for alternatives. I found several other development boards that are available now and in many ways are as good or better than both Raspberry Pi boards.

Globalscale DreamPlug

While I like the idea of tinkering with a development board I just don’t have the time. What I really needed was a small computer that I can run iPerf3, Zap and a few other utilities for WiFi app projects. I went with the Dreamplug over others because it is self contained finished product that comes with WiFi. Also having TWO gigabit ethernet interfaces is a big plus.

2 x Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps
2 x USB 2.0 ports (Host)
1 x eSATA 2.0 port- 3Gbps SATAII
1 x SD Socket for user expansion/application
WiFi: 802.11 b/g/n
Bluethooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

The DreamPlug is one of several Plug Computer development kits. Below info from PlugComputer.org.

A plug computer is a small form factor server, intended to provide network-based services within the home. Built on a Marvell system-on-chip, the Marvell plug computer enables high-performance, always-on, always-connected, and environmentally-friendly computing that is readily available for developers. Unlike other embedded devices in the home it contains a gigahertz- class processor designed to offer PC-class performance.

The plug computer is suitable for file sharing, running a media server, back-up services, and remote access functions. It can be used as a bridge between home computing devices and Internet-based services. Plug computing is quickly expanding—delivering new devices, services, value-added applications, and advanced network connectivity to users.


Another Plug Computer kit that looks really nice is the GuruPlug. I almost went with the GuruPlug but decided on the DreamPlug because Amazon offered it via Prime Shipping.

The GuruPlug Server is a Linux-based GbE networked general plug computer featuring a Wi-Fi access point router and two USB 2.0 ports for flexible expansion. Powered by the 1.2 GHz Marvell Kirkwood 88F6281 processor, the GuruPlug Server delivers lots of horsepower and storage capacity in a very small form factor, making it ideal for the professional demonstration of new applications.

Cotton Candy

Cotton Candy is a USB stick sized compute device that allows users a single, secure point of access to all personal cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen. The device will serve as a companion to smartphones, tablets, and notebook PC and Macs, as well add smart capabilities to existing displays, TVs, set top boxes and other media that supports USB mass storage.

Dual Core ARM Cortex A9@1.2GHz CPU
Quad Core ARM Mali-400MP Graphics Processing Unit
Up to 64GB memory local storage (microSD)
480p/720p/1080p decode of MPEG4-SP/H.263/H.264 AVC/MPEG-2/VC1
USB 2.0 male connector for power and connection to devices that supports USB mass storage
HDMI 1.3 Connector with audio
Wifi 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR


The PandaBoard features a dual-core 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU, a 304 MHz PowerVR SGX540 GPU, a C64x DSP, and 1 GB of DDR2 SDRAM. The PandaBoard ES uses a newer SoC, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU and 384 MHz GPU. Primary persistent storage is via an SD Card slot allowing SDHC cards up to 32 GB to be used. The board includes wired 10/100 Ethernet as well as wireless Ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity. Its size is slightly larger than the ETX/XTX Computer form factor at 4 × 4.5 in (100 × 110 mm). The board can output video signals via DVI and HDMI interfaces. It also has 3.5 mm audio connectors. It has two USB host ports and one USB On-The-Go port, supporting USB 2.0.


The USB-powered Beagle Board is a low-cost, fan-less single board computer utilizing Texas Instruments’ OMAP3530 processor that unleashes laptop-like performance and expansion without the bulk, expense, or noise of typical desktop machines.

Beagle Board is based on an OMAP3530 application processor featuring an ARM® Cortex™-A8 running at up to 720MHz and delivering over 1,200 Dhrystone MIPS of performance via superscalar operation with highly accurate branch prediction and 256KB of L2 cache. Focal to Beagle Board experience is the high-speed USB 2.0 on-the-go (OTG) port that can be utilized to provide power to the board or to deliver highly flexible expansion. Standard PC peripherals can be connected to Beagle Board using the USB with a mini-A to standard-A cable adapter, DVI-D using an HDMI to DVI-D adapter, or through the MMC/SD/SDIO connector enabling a complete desktop experience.


Arduino is a popular open-source single-board microcontroller, descendant of the open-source Wiring platform, designed to make the process of using electronics in multidisciplinary projects more accessible. The hardware consists of a simple open hardware design for the Arduino board with an Atmel AVR processor and on-board input/output support. The software consists of a standard programming language compiler and the boot loader that runs on the board.


Gumstix motherboards are single-board computers which come in two different configurations. The brand names for these are Overo Earth and Verdex Pro. The Overo Earth uses a TI OMAP 3503 processor running at 600 MHz and have 256 MB of SDRAM, while the Verdex Pro motherboards use a Marvell XScale PXA270 processor running at 400 MHz or 600 MHz with up to 128 MB of SDRAM. Both boards run Linux 2.6 with the BusyBox utilities, and use the OpenEmbedded build environment to provide a full-blown Linux environment and a large range of Linux applications.