The Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive computer a low-power ARM-based processor and virtually everything you need to run a Linux-based operating system on a system board that’s around the size of a pack of cards. Oh yeah, and the goal is to eventually sell it for as little as $25.

raspberry pi

While the developers behind the project are hoping to see Raspberry Pi systems used in educational settings or other environments where low price and power consumption could be killer features. But the applications for this device aren’t limited to education. This weekend the group is showing off a Raspberry Pi system running XBMC, a powerful media center application.

XBMC can play music or movies, display videos, and run third party apps using an attractive interface designed for a TV or computer display. It’s popular with people building Home Theater PCs (HPTCs), systems that have typically relied on powerful x86 processors.

Since the Raspberry Pi’s low power chip can handle 1080p HD video playback, it can handle most of the actions you’d expect from an XBMC system. While video playback looks great in the demo video, the transitions between system menus could be smoother. I’m not sure I’d want a home theater PC that uses the minimum capable hardware. But I do like the idea of a media center based around a $35 piece of hardware (that’s how much a Raspberry Pi system will likely cost when configured with the input and output features shown in the demo). You’ll still probably need a case and some other hardware to complete the system, but this could present an attractive, customizable alternative to a $50 Roku media streaming box.

We’ve also seen Raspberry Pi handle video games such as Quake III in the past, and the team recently showed off a Raspberry Pi handling Apple Airplay video streaming.

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5 replies on “Raspberry Pi could (almost) be a $35 media center PC – video”

  1. I saw this in person this weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE10x) and it was quite impressive. They run the interface off of the QT framework and it was zippy! Saw it crash once and it took 4 minutes to reboot (which is 5 minutes shorter than my Tivo!) but otherwise this was a great demo.

  2. My understanding is that there will be two models. The $25 will not have a ethernet port, unlike the $35 model. And the whole thing is the size of a credit card, and passivly cooled. The number of items that can be pressed into service as a case are huge.

    1. It’s not cooled at all. It doesn’t produce enough heat to need cooling.

  3. Nice to see low cost innovations coming from the UK, for a change.

    (I’m a Brit, and I don’t often get to wave the flag!)

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