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C.H.I.P. – the $9 computer that isn’t

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Yet another classic from the annals of crowdsourcing heaven, is the brand new mega hot project called C.H.I.P. Billed as the world’s first $9 computer, it has blasted through its funding goal in something like two days and currently sits at $142,105 pledged on the crowdfunding page. It’s seems like a wonderful project and an incredible price… until you look closely at the details.

Sure the base module is selling at $9, but unfortunately that’s without the benefit of any display adapter ports, for which you have to cough up an extra $10. So we’re at $19 for something which will actually be able to display something real (composite video output as default is not a real option for normal hobbyists!).

Now that’s still cheap, but again it pays to remember, as with the Raspberry Pi, that you need a full range of accessories like keyboard, mouse, display, maybe a case. And so the cost mounts up. We came out at around $130 (not including a display monitor) for a fully working configuration when we did our original Raspberry Pi review.

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You can pick up a Haier Chromebook 11 (11.6 inch screen, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage) for just $16 more!

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These trendy little micro computers are really just the spillover from the decline of tablet and budget smartphone sales, as factories offload spare manufacturing capacity, and in reality they offer very little more than you’d get with a cheapo smartphone, OTG connector and some clever operating system tweaking. It’s all in the marketing see?

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Still, who are we to begrudge the kids their toys, even if this one won’t hit the decks until the middle of next year (and remember, crowdsourced projects have a gruesome record of not meeting delivery times). And who knows what changes to the spec will happen between now and then? Judging from past experience, we’re not hopeful.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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