The original Raspberry Pi $ 35 computer is great. However, if you expected it to be a desktop replacement, you might have been a little disappointed by its somewhat sluggish behavior for activities like Web browsing. But the latest Raspberry Pi 3, with its 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU, has just enough processing power to function as a tiny budget general purpose computer. If this idea interests you, here are five add-ons to consider for your project.
1. The Western Digital PiDrive is available with either 314GB (get it?) or 1TB storage capacity. The 314GB model is currently discounted by 31.4% and priced at $ 31.42. The drive comes bundled with the BerryBoot system installer that lets you install any of the operating systems stored on the PiDrive. At bootup, the BerryBoot menu lets you select which operating system you want to use on the Raspberry Pi. Note that while this $ 31.42 price is amazing, this price does not appear to include the necessary PiDrive USB cable or an enclosure. If you are willing to spend $ 80, you can get the 1TB PiDrive with the same form factor in a kit that includes the drive, cable, enclosure, power adapter, and 4GB microSD card with SD card adapter.
2. HDMI-to-DVI cable. The Raspberry Pi 3, like its predecessors, has an HDMI video port that lets you use most modern flatscreen TVs and monitors. If you’ve got an older display with a DVI port, you may want a hybrid cable with an HDMI connector on one and an a DVI connector on the other that lets you use your old computer display with the Raspberry Pi. I paid $ 6 for such a cable.
3. Folding Bluetooth Keyboard. If you want a keyboard that has a small form factor that complements the Raspberry Pi and PiDrive, you might want take advantage of the fact that the Raspberry Pi 3 includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as built-in features. You do not have to dedicate a USB port to add these functions, as was needed in older Pi models. And if you are willing to do a bit of configuration work, you might want to consider a folding Bluetooth keyboard like the iClever Portable Bluetooth Keyboard, which I bought for my smartphone for $ 36.
4. Bluetooth Mouse. You can also try one of the many Bluetooth mouse models to eliminate yet another cable from your Pi-based desktop. Setting one up isn’t as easy as it is with a Windows PC or Mac. First, you are going to need a USB keyboard and mouse to get started. Then you need to download and install support software for Bluetooth. It is not terribly difficult to get working, but you’ll need to use the command line in a terminal window. TechRadar has a good how-to article that leads you through the process step-by-step.
5. 7-inch Touchscreen Monitor for Raspberry Pi. This 800×480 display, built by the Pi Foundation itself, costs $ 80 and draws power from the Pi’s GPIO port and connects to the Pi’s DSI (Display Serial Interface) port. The display supports 10-finger touch and includes an on-screen keyboard. Buy this and it may be possible to carry a fully functional Raspberry Pi 3 based desktop system in a shoebox-sized case.