The new Pi-TopCEED.

The new Pi-TopCEED

Pi-Top has recently started shipping the original Pi-Top to its crowdfunding backers, and we’ve already taken a hands on look at the hardware. Alongside this, they’ve also kicked off a new crowdfunding campaign. This time it’s for a desktop costing just $99, including the Raspberry Pi.

The new desktop bears striking resemblance to the original Pi-Top laptop, but is significantly cheaper. Unlike the original laptop it comes pre-assembled, with the Raspberry Pi and the Hub board — which connects the Pi to both the screen and the power bus — being hosted in the same unit as the 13-inch screen.

All around it’s a much simpler construction. You can see where the cost saving have been made. With the lack of battery, keyboard, and the much simpler single-piece, injection-molded case all presumably accounting for the huge price difference. At $299 the original Pi-Top laptop has a certain amount of sticker shock attached, and it was obviously intended for early adopters.

Using the Pi-TopCEED in th classroom.

Using the Pi-TopCEED in the classroom

The Raspberry Pi’s educational roots shine through a lot more with this new campaign than Pi-Top’s original. While you can pick up a Pi-TopCEED for $99 on Indiegogo, you can also buy one and gift one for $50 more to a disadvantaged child through the company’s collaboration with IntoUniversity.

The new desktop seems much more focused towards the classroom than the original Pi-Top. The absence of a battery and the reduced portability isn’t going to be a big problem in schools — it may even be an advantage. For home use however (at least the way computers are used in my home) it might prove problematic.

The focus of the campaign also seems much more heavily leaning towards learning to code, and learning to hack on hardware. As I pointed out in my hands-on review of the original Pi-Top, a lot of children in the Pi-Top’s target age range will already have access to some sort of hardware — an old laptop, a phone, or an iPod — so the real reason they’ll want to get their hands on this is for the additional capabilities that the hardware offers.

Like the Kano Kit before it, the Pi-Top is going to succeed or fail not on the quality of the hardware itself, although making that attractive is a plus, but on the quality of the software. The learning environment it provides, along with the support and documentation to go with it, are the factors that will make it stand out.

The Pi-TopCEED is currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo. They’ve already reached their target goal within the first 48 hours, and still have almost a month left in the campaign.