If you’re still buying your laptops ready-made then you’re doing it wrong. Join the organic laptop revolution by building your own 14in notebook with the new Pi-Top. In a manner of speaking, anyway.
The Pi-Top isn’t a new idea. Originally an IndieGoGo project, the DIY notebook had a few criticisms that could be aimed at it. The built quality wasn’t great, the build process was a bit of a chore, and it had a poor overall design. The new Pi-Top, though, looks (and feels, according to Engadget) closer to a store-bought rather than a home-made computing machine.
For all that, it looks like it’d be a lot of fun. The Pi-Top consists of six body components, including a 14in display, the chassis, and a full-sized keyboard and trackpad that slides down to reveal the internals — which you’ll have to put in yourself. The Pi-Top, as the name suggests, is powered by a Raspberry Pi board, which you’ll connect to the rear ports (USB 2.0, headphone jack, and the power input) as well as the screen and peripherals.
Also included with the setup is an internal cooling system and a collection of extra bits for users to modify their machine with. LED lights, a microphone, and motion sensor as well as an add-on board broaden the possible uses for a home-made laptop. Plus, given how modular Raspberry Pi systems have proven, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some surprising inventions appearing as a result of the Pi-Top.
But can you replace a regular notebook with it? Er… negative. It runs its own OS, called Pi-TopOS Polaris, and a few basic applications but you’re not going to be slinging this onto the boardroom desk for a presentation any time soon. It’s designed more for education and coding purposes, and there are also a few coding bundles included to that end.
It’s also not that cheap. It’ll run you $285 (R3,820) without the Raspberry Pi 3 brains you’ll need, or $320 (R4,300) with it. If a computer is what you’re really after, rather than something you’ve made with your own hands, there are cheaper, less cumbersome options out there. Still, there you go: One hipster, bespoke, artisanal laptop.