There’s another Raspberry Pi-like computer in the works, and this one has a few interesting features that could set it apart. It’s said to be capable of handling 4K video. It’s designed to run Linux and Android-based software. It should be faster than a Raspberry Pi 3. And unlike some other devices in this category, it’s not named after a fruit… it’s named for a vegetable.

The Le Potato board from Libre Computer is expected to begin shipping in August, if the Kickstarter campaign for this board reaches a relatively modest goal of $25,000.

But there are a few things to note before pulling out your wallet.

First, the Le Potato board has no WiFi or Bluetooth, so you’ll need t supply your own adapter if you want wireless features. It does have an Ethernet jack, but it tops out at a 10/100 connection and lacks Gigabit Ethernet speed.

Likewise, while there are four USB ports, they’re all USB 2.0 rather than 3.0.

And while the Libre Computer board gets its name from an effort to support free and open source software, the system currently has “basic upstream support in Linux 4.13 and does not yet have an open source driver for hardware-accelerated graphics, although the developers are hoping to work on that… they’d hardly be the first with that hope though.

The Le Potato board features an Amlogic S905X quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit processor with Mali-450 graphics, an HDMI 2.0 port, support for up to 2GB of RAM, a microSD card slot, and support for an optional eMMC daughter board, among other things.

Early backers can snag a model with 1GB of RAM for a pledge of $25, while 2GB models are going for $35 and up.



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18 replies on “Libre Computer is crowdfunding a 4K-ready, quad-core mini PC for $25 and up”

  1. I always like seeing more players to the game, but the odroid c2 still strikes me as a better buy because it has all of the features and some community support (retropi and libreelec) at $45 dollars.

  2. Not seeing the elevator pitch for this one. WHy pick it over the others. It sends up a few warning flags as well. Note they do not reveal the SoC model or even the vendor. In the ARM world, saying which core is on it doesn’t mean much. They don’t even say if the network is USB based or not, only that it doesn’t share bandwidth with the USB ports. Many SoCs have multiple USB host ports.

    And while they talk about the video, it is closed source and a design we know ain’t likely to ever be fully opened. So pain or headless. And a fan? Ok, that avoids thermal throttling but voids the small and quiet.

    1. “WHy pick it over the others.”? Did you not read the first paragraph? I mean, acknowledge it, at least.

      1. Oh it’s capable of handling 4K video? How new and novel… wait a minute, my orange pi plus 2E can do that, as can the asus tinkerboard, pine A64, plus every android TV box under the sun.

        This is a very busy field already, there are a lot of SBCs with little differentiation. The question of “what makes this special” is a valid one as a result. It’s certainly not the ethernet or USB ports, it’s not the lack of wifi… HDMI 2.0 is kinda special but most video acceleration on linux on ARM boards is garbage so I wouldn’t count on that. A mainline linux kernel’s pretty nice but definitely not unique, check out armbian for modern kernels on a fair number of boards. Nope, can’t find anything.

        1. Yes, but it appears to cost around half of most of the examples you gave. Let’s compare apples to oranges here.

          But I’m not taking a position here. It was just odd to me to complain about their pitch without even acknowledging the pitch presented in the article, asking questions that were answered just a handful of pixels uppage. It sounds like you, CampGareth, have a reasonable rebuttal to the actual contents of the pitch as presented here.

        2. Fair enough, and yes the asus tinkerboard in particular is expensive. I’ve been doing a bit of digging as to what makes this board special, it seems to be that they’re trying to get video acceleration working *well* under linux. That would actually be new to the ARM world.

          For comparison have a look at the raspberry pi 3, it uses hardware decode for h.264 though only 1080p ~30fps is possible by default. h.265 is on the CPU with NEON boosts. In my experience with the OPi+ 2E I needed to use a specific video player and because something wasn’t working first time round I was getting green artifacts everywhere. Sure I later fixed it but it definitely wasn’t an ‘out of the box’ experience. In either case you can’t just watch youtube or netflix.

          The problem with all this though is that if you want to watch videos on a cheap device in a consumer sense you’d be better off with an Android device, more things will work ‘out of the box’. So where’s the market for small linux boards for playing video? I’d understand if they’re being used as general purpose desktop PCs but they’re a bit anemic for that at the moment. Roll on the A17 and A73 boards.

        1. I know, in all seriousness, what the feck are/were they thinking? Might as well calll it the cabbage.

    2. It is odd that the specific SoC was not named in the write up. However, the diagram shows it to be the S905x.

  3. I call your “the Le Potato” and raise you a “the La Brea Tar Pits”.

    Still is nice to see libre options that are able to keep quite close to gratis.

  4. please add:
    turn on button (in bios disabling/enabling options)
    power from 12V from solar panel or auto accumulator and 5V usb

    1. Look for devices powered by an allwinner A20, those have a kind of weird proper SATA port. It’s slow to write but super fast to read. They should be available in your price range.

  5. I’d rather see something a little less low end, like maybe $100 and it doesn’t have a horribly slow bus like my Raspberry Pi 3. I like the 2GB of ram option, since 1GB is pretty terrible (like the Pi). I’d like 4GB better.

    I guess what I’m saying is, I’d pay a little more for it to not be so crappy, but all of the boards like this lack the kind of support the Pi has.

  6. Potato by name …

    Hope the ROCK64

    https://www.pine64.org/?page_id=7147

    is the board that finally takes the absent Pi4’s place in the market. It appears to be everything Eben and co refuse to make until what, 2019, but is available for pre-order tomorrow. Only question is price as specs are great:

    Up to 4GB, 1600MHz RAM
    Gig ethernet
    4K HDR @60 FPS
    USB 3.0 port (dedicated)
    eMMC support
    Quad core 64bit A53
    MicroSD socket
    Power button
    Reset button
    Recovery button
    IR receiver

    Just hope the price isn’t OTT.

    Maybe Le Potato can be overclocked until it’s fried into Le Fries?

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