Fun with the Pocket Chip

The Pocket CHIP is a very nice device. Mine arrived a couple of weeks ago and I've been very impressed with the hardware. You can get the device as a free standing board, rather like the Raspberry PI, or in a case with a properly portable form factor, giving you a small touch screen, LiPo battery and a keyboard that is "interesting".

This is the processing power that drives the whole affair. You can buy this on it's own for 9 dollars (amazing) or you can spend a bit more for the cased version above. 

It has 512K RAM and 8G of on-board storage, but you can use the USB port to add more peripherals. It has Bluetooth and WiFi built in too. If you want to add video output there are adaptors for VGA and HDMI. 

The graphics have 3D acceleration (it will run Minecraft and Quake quite successfully) and the PocketChip version ships with Pico-8, a fun little game development environment which you can use to actually build games on the device. It will also run a ton of emulators for most handhelds and some early consoles. 

I must admit that all I've done with it so far is upgrade the firmware to the latest version. This is something that you really must do when you receive a device. It doubles the amount of onboard storage to 8G and it also enables the 3D acceleration.  

Rather annoyingly, the only way I could do this was to remove the CHIP processor from Pocket CHIP case, connect the FEL line to ground using a wire link and then run the upgrade software within the Chrome browser. Having said that, this did mean that I got to take a look at the guts of the device. 

Its inevitable that this will be compared with the Raspberry Pi. They both run pretty much the same OS and their power is of the same order of magnitude, although I think the Pi is a tad faster. However, the CHIP has charms of its own. There's no need for a separate memory card and the price is very attractive. Don't worry about buying from the UK, I got my Pocket CHIP shipped here with no problems. The price of the device itself is so low that it is unlikely you'll pay import duty.  Well worth getting into I reckon..

I'l looking forward to playing more with this neat device over the holidays. I'm hoping I get used to the built in keyboard...