Finally, An Official Display For The Raspberry Pi

Yes, finally, and after years of work and countless people complaining on forums, there is a proper, official display for the Raspberry Pi.

It’s a 7-inch display, 800 x 480 pixel resolution, 24-bit color, and has 10-point multitouch. Drivers for the display are already available with a simple call of sudo apt-get update, and the display itself is available at Newark, the Pi Store (sold out) and Element14. There’s even a case available, and a stand ready to be sent off to a 3D printer.

As for why it took so long for the Raspberry Pi foundation to introduce an official display for the Pi, the answer should not be surprising for any engineer. It’s EMC, or electromagnetic compliance. The DPI (Display Parallel Interface) for the Pi, presented on the expansion header and used by the GertVGA adapter allows any Pi to drive two displays at 1920 x 1024, 60FPS. This DPI interface is an electrical nightmare that spews RF interference everywhere it goes.

raspberry-pi-touchscreen-thumbThe new display could have used the DSI (Display Serial Interface) adapter, or the small connector on the Pi that is not the camera connector. DSI displays are purpose-built for specific devices, though, and aren’t something that would or should be used in a device that will be manufactured for years to come. The best solution, and the design the Raspberry Pi foundation chose to go with, is a DPI display and an adapter that converts the Pi’s DSI output to something the display can understand.

The solution the Pi foundation eventually settled on is an adapter board that converts the DSI bus to DPI signalling. This of course requires an extra PCB, and the Foundation provided mounting holes so a Pi can connect directly to it.

While this is the first display to make use of the DSI interface, it will assuredly not be the last. The Pi Foundation has given us a way to use the DSI connector to drive cheap DPI displays. While the 800×480 resolution of the official display may be a bit small, there will undoubtedly be a few hardcore tinkerers out there that will take this adapter board and repurpose it for larger displays.

[Alex Eames] got his hands on the Pi Display a few weeks ago, you can check out his introductory video below.

38 thoughts on “Finally, An Official Display For The Raspberry Pi

  1. After all these long long months, THAT is the best they could manage, with nearly double the cost of a Pi and (i think) less than half the max resolution possible. You’ve featured articles showing much better screens, for less, several times. Man, the foundation really couldn’t be bothered with this one eh?

      1. What are you talking about? This display also works with the GPU just like the HDMI ones. It is the SPI attached ones that have previously been available like the Adafruit LCD that don’t.

        The Raspberry Pi needs a binary blob no matter what. The VideoCore “GPU” is the part that boots first which then initialises the ARM core.

    1. Better an industrial screen that can be sourced long-term than the cheap Chinese flavor of the week that may or may not be available tomorrow.

      You’d think readers of this site would understand about sourcing parts…

      1. Are you trying to assert HDMI screens are vendor specific like a proprietary LCD display?
        The pi2 is awesome, but the Camera/LCD modules are a rip off in terms of versatility and portability.

        1. Now, LCD is overpriced, but what’s about camera module? Can you get a camera that would be as fast and wouldn’t consume as much of USB bandwidth as the current one does? (Hint: zero). I think it’s worth it for 20$.

      2. We DONT GIVE TWO SHITS about sourcing, OPEN UP MIPI interface, let us write our own drivers and we could use ANY screen of the week.

        Instead we get this shit on a stick, just like with camera module, HARDCODED in ze blob to one vendor/manufacturer/model.

        1. If you want open, the Raspberry Pi isn’t for you. It’s got a huge binary GPU blob (a well documented blob at this point, but a blob nonetheless). As others have said, now that there’s better documentation there is absolutely nothing stopping you from building your own display right now. Nothing except your trollish ego, that is.

      3. Most of the eBay deals I saw were in one of two categories
        – Similar display and resolution for similar price (maybe $50 instead of $60), maybe or maybe not HDMI
        – 3.5″ display with touchscreen for $15-20.
        The non-HDMI ones seem like they’d be useful as a control interface or touchpad GUI that you can use along with the RPi plugged into your TV or larger monitor.

  2. I’ve seen displays that size for not much more with quite a better resolution. But I don’t know about the quality and viewing angles though.
    And it certainly could be worse, but it could be better too.

  3. From element 14 its $80.
    and it uses some of the pins as well.
    for $100 I can get a quad core tablet and save money and use a arduino for the in/outs and still save money and install linux on it. Or get same size lcd Hmdi $35 and $10 on a touch screen cover.

    I dont know. maybe Im just to cheep.

    1. The difference is that the HDMI is now freed up for video display.

      I think they’re thinking in terms of multimedia box, where the native display can be used for control, and the HDMI is used for high-octane video.

  4. The display costs twice what generic HDMI-with-multitouch units cost on AliExpress. At least the Foundation is starting to address the problem of no “OEM-qualified” display for the Pi. Though this display is more expensive, it will probably be the best “baseline” for integrating components into a finished product.

    Sort of like picking a generic Allwinner board instead of the Pi… what you save in dollars (or euro, or whatever) you have to spend in extra development time. Where am I going with this? The Pi integrators will love this. The hackers, well… hackers gonna hack!

    1. Agreed, for the places you don’t need the HDMI there are much cheaper bare LCD + driver board setups. Though the cheap ones aren’t a very compact setup and don’t usually run from 5v.

      A driver board the same size as the pi to sit next to or behind the Pi (with a PCB based HDMI coupler) powered similarly to this official display would be a better solution to me if cheaper and better resolution.

  5. this is what I bought for my pi:

    almost a year ago, give or take. its nice that it has simple usb-based touch and simple semi-standard hdmi interface. I’ve been able to use that for booting up a win7/linux dual boot box (mini-itx), it works for the beaglebone and also the pi. wasn’t this the point of standard interfaces?

    the usb touch part is slightly tricky for the pi (custom kernel build) but not a huge problem; and hdmi was working right out of the box with some adafruit hints on the bootup config options.

    only problem is building it! I had to do a very custom laser cut bezel for the lcd and touch panel and also a custom box for the controller. it was a bit tricky, but it was do-able. and now its usable on any system, plus it takes hdmi, vga or composite, so its quite universal for what it costs.

    1. But, but, but.

      Yes this 5 inch display is cheap, but it is a totally other ballgame, as it uses the HDMI port, where the “native” Pi display out-of-the-box gives the ability to have two displays simultaneously, with different content.

      And we also have to respect, that the foundations takes the EMC matters seriously, something that can be doubted when using cheap China products.

  6. Development would have been faster and the product far cheaper if they would have published all specs. For the RPI Foundation open source is only great if it helps making more money:

    Using a the community to do the hard work adapting linux to RPI for free: Open source is great.

    Use community projects to promote RPI for free: Open source is great.

    Publish schemes and use a Soc from an open source, so that the community could build their on versions of RPI: Possibility to sell less RPIs –> the community stuff is not that great

    Develop and sell a display: Possibility to make money –> stay outside community, just buy our stuff (then create great open source drivers and projects to promote our stuff so we could sell even more)

    Therefore I also really believe there was some connection between the sudden delivery-stop for Odroid-W and the RPI-Foundation.

  7. This is one step closer to bringing to light a laptop that one can build, modify and customize to one’s purpose. Let’s see the aftermarket or even the market itself come up with Raspi clones and peripherals that will make these hardware hacks even more possible than they are now.

  8. 1. Before you rant too much about closed GPU “Binary Blobs”, understand the problem is a lot about a BROKEN (if not outright corrupt) bloated-Government-run U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO), and the greedy Trial Lawyers that prey on the mess they create. It is cheaper to HIDE what’s going on when you tie your shoes than it is to defend yourself when you get sued by the likes of Apple because it owns a frivolous and/or undeserved Patent on “How to Tie Shoes”.

    2. I agree, this display is very dissapointing in many ways, especially the price.

  9. I though one of the points of having an LCD was to make it cheaper to use the Pi in classrooms where getting HDMI displays is difficult or prohibitively expensive?
    800X600 isn’t really the best for any modern desktop environment or coding outside of a terminal. I would’ve either expected a much lower price or a much better display. Being easy to source doesn’t really help me as a customer! Though props for using a British company!

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