There’s no shortage of cheap gadgets you can plug into the HDMI port of a TV to turn it into a smart display for streaming media from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, or Disney+.

But the Raspberry Pi-powered PiPocket goes a bit further and basically lets you turn any display with an HDMI input into a Linux or Android-powered computer. Its makers are running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with the goal of shipping the first units to backers in February, 2024.

The PiPocket has an HDMI connector on one end, allowing you to plug the dongle directly into the HDMI port of a TV or monitor.

On the other end there’s a USB Type-C port for power and two USB 2.0 Type-A ports that can be used to add a keyboard, mouse, storage, game controllers, or other peripherals.

There’s also a microSD card reader for storage and an IR receiver that allows you to use the device with a remote control (as long as it sticks out far enough from your display for you to get a line of sight between the remote and the stick).

It’s powered by a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 with a 1.5 GHz Broadcom BCM2711 quad-core ARM Cortex-A72 processor featuring 4K/60Hz video support as well as support for OpenGLE ES 3.1 and Vulkun 1.0 graphics and WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity.

Kickstarter reward levels start at £40 (about $50) for a PiPocket dongle without a Raspberry Pi CM4. If you opt for this reward, you’ll need to supply your own compute module. Rewards start at £74 (about $90) for PiPocket + CM4 with 1GB of RAM.

While that’s close to twice the price of a 4K-ready Chromecast with Google TV, Roku Streaming Stick+, or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, it’s basically a full-fledged computer that can do a lot more than any of those media streamers. And it’s still less than you’d probably end up spending to get a PC-on-a-stick with a recent Intel processor.

That said, there’s something to be said about the simplicity of a dedicated media streaming device rather than a jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none gadget like the PiPocket, which is basically a tiny computer that plugs into your TV, and which is probably designed for folks who find tinkering with their TVs (and PCs) at least as enjoyable as using them to watch movies and TV shows.

Or you could just use it to turn any monitor, portable display, or lapdock into an all-in-one, Raspberry Pi-powered PC.

via Tom’s Hardware

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  1. Hmm not sure why but my previous comment doesn’t seem to have posted:

    Just realised, thanks to Jeff Geerling’s latest video, that you could already buy what appears to be the original hackster io project on makerfabs (raspberry pi cm4 tv stick).

    Still only USB2 type A ports though…

  2. @Michael : until projector manufacturers replace HDMI ports on their devices with USB-C ports, it still makes sense to keep the HDMI port (and even after that it still would, just for backwards compatibility).
    But different carrier boards could be made that would meet your and my suggestions since the SOMs could just be swapped out.

  3. I quite like this concept, but I would be more interested in a device that reduced the ports by one: get rid of the HDMI port, and make the USB-C a full-function port that handles video duties as well as power and data. This would make it a perfect device for attaching to things like Laptop docks and USB-C monitors to turn them into AIO devices. I’d keep the USB-A ports for flexibility, but I wouldn’t need the IR receiver.

  4. @Nathan : the point comes when you want to
    1) upgrade with other more powerful but pin-compatible SOMs
    2) maintain the small, portable, convenient form factor (as e.g. Rikomagic RKM V7, although ideally a little smaller)
    3) not have to rely on on-board wi-fi
    4) use USB-A3.2 nano flash drives as additional storage that’s faster than the microSDs that are currently commercially available AND still maintain the overall convenient, small form factor (which PSSDs wouldn’t)
    5) only have two ports to connect to one device (the display, assuming it also features a USB port that can provide this adapter with power)
    6) continue development of a prototype originally featured on Hackaday

    1. Some of those make sense, but I’m still lost on a few of them. I get that having an Ethernet port means you don’t have to use the WiFi, but it would make the device bigger and existing SBCs have those ports already. For example, the stick you mentioned measures 120 x 60 x 23mm, and a Pi 4B is about the same. I’d actually feel more comfortable with the board because I wouldn’t be hanging something so big off the back of the screen. Similarly, you can upgrade to a different SoM, but there aren’t a lot of those out there and those that do exist don’t tend to be much cheaper than just getting an SBC with a different chip. Replaceable SoMs make a lot of sense to me when they’re in something with a lot of parts, like a handheld device with lots of peripherals, but by switching modules on this, you’re still only connecting it to basically a short HDMI cable.
      As I say, though, I’m not the target customer for this so I’m probably just not understanding the ways people use them.

  5. Tom’s Hardware mentions lack of GPIO access but the Kickstarter campaign mentions “5. Tailor piPocket to Your Needs: piPocket isn’t just a one-size-fits-all device. With solder pads for tinkering and personalization, you can customize it to match your specific requirements. Whether you’re an enthusiast looking to fine-tune the experience or a professional with unique needs, piPocket adapts to you, ensuring a seamless and tailored solution.”
    I haven’t watched the campaign video yet but it would be interesting to see whether it includes any GPIO pads.

  6. YES! This makes SO MUCH sense! However, let’s hope v2 / a pro version has a USB-A3.2 port and a Gigabit Ethernet port instead of 2xUSB-A2.0 port…

    1. At what point do you just take a normal Pi 4B and plug it into the display? That has all those things on it already, runs the same software, and has the same CPU. As you add more and more ports, it seems like you’re just moving yourself back to the boards we already have. I admit that this concept isn’t useful to me anyway, but I presume that the benefit of this stick over the full 4B is size, and throwing ethernet ports and probably more power hardware to deal with faster USB is just going to make it bigger.