The Raspberry Pi is a tiny $35 computer based around an ARM chip (similar to those found in tablets and smartphones) that was developed mainly for DIYers and educational institutions. It’s a surprisingly powerful computer for its size and is able to run a full operating system.
Due to the device’s ability to output 1080p video via HDMI many are looking forward to using it as an inexpensive media center.
A couple of weeks ago the Raspberry Pi team released a video showing the system running XBMC, media center software similar to Boxee. (Shane at SlashGear points out that Boxee originated as a spin-off of XMBC a few years back.)
Yesterday the team announced that Stm Labs has developed a version of XMBC specifically for the Raspberry Pi called Raspbmc. To install it you’ll need a PC, Mac, or Linux machine on hand, but once installed it will happily run all on its own.
I’m a fan of set-top boxes, but I’ve always said that a regular computer makes the best media center for your dollar. There are no codec restrictions, no way for Hulu or Netflix or anyone else to block you streaming video, and you can store all of your video the way you like it. The Raspberry Pi has all of these benefits, plus it’s only $35.
The Raspbmc software offers an attractive user interface and easy navigation — a big plus if you’re sitting on a couch several feet away. Hook a cordless mouse and keyboard up and you’re all set.
And don’t forget that this little guy also works with AirPlay.
The wait is almost over for the Raspberry Pi units. Hopefully by the time they’re ready to ship Raspbmc will be ready for download. And you bet I’m trying it out. Video how tos will follow!