Are Apple Trying To Patent The Home Computer 45 Years Too Late?

In our recent piece marking the 10th anniversary of the Raspberry Pi, we praised their all-in-one Raspberry Pi 400 computer for having so far succeeded in attracting no competing products. It seems that assessment might be premature, because it emerges that Apple have filed a patent application for “A computer in an input device” that looks very much like the Pi 400. In fact we’d go further than that, it looks very much like any of a number of classic home computers from back in the day, to the extent that we’re left wondering what exactly Apple think is novel enough to patent.

A Raspberry Pi 400 all-in-one keyboard console computer
Looks pretty similar to us.

Reading the patent it appears to be a transparent catch-all for all-in-one computers, with the possible exception of “A singular input/output port“, meaning that the only port on the device would be a single USB-C port that could take power, communicate with peripherals, and drive the display. Either way, this seems an extremely weak claim of novelty, if only because we think that a few of the more recent Android phones with keyboards might constitute prior art.

We’re sure that Apple’s lawyers will have their arguments at the ready, but we can’t help wondering whether they’ve fallen for the old joke about Apple fanboys claiming the company invented something when in fact they’ve finally adopted it years after the competition.

Thinking back to the glory days of 8-bit computers for a moment, we’re curious which was the first to sport a form factor little larger than its keyboard. Apple’s own Apple ][ wouldn’t count because the bulk of the machine is behind the keyboard, but for example machines such as Commodore’s VIC-20 or Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum could be said to be all-in-one keyboard computers. Can anyone provide an all-in-one model that predates those two?

You can read our Raspberry Pi 400 review if the all-in-one interests you.

Via Extreme Tech.

 

The Pi 400 As A PC Peripheral

The Raspberry Pi 400 all-in-one computer is a neat little unit that is powerful enough to take on most humdrum computing tasks while doing an excellent job of freeing up valuable desktop space. But what about those moments when both the Pi and a PC are needed on the same desktop? How can the Pi and the bulky PC keyboard share the same space?

[Gadgetoid] may have the answer, with a clever bit of software that presents the Pi’s mouse and keyboard as peripherals on its USB-C power port. If your PC has a high-power USB socket that can run the Pi then it can use the small computer’s input devices just as well as the Pi itself can. It’s fair to say that the Pi 400’s keyboard is not it’s strongest point, but we can see some utility in the idea.

Running it is simply a case of running an executable from the Pi. Control can be wrested back to Raspberry Pi OS with a simple keystroke. Perhaps it’s not the ultimate desktop experience, but if you’re a die-hard Pi-head there’s plenty of appeal.

Within a few weeks, it’s a year since the launch of the Pi 400. We’ve not seen as many of them as the other Pi models, but you might find our original review to be of interest.

Thanks [Itay] for the tip.

Data Blaster Is A Hip RPi Cyberdeck

Cyberdecks were once a science fiction approximation of what computing might look like in the future. In the end, consumer devices took a very different path. No matter, though, because the maker community decided cyberdecks were too awesome to ignore and started making their own. After lusting after some of the amazing builds already out there, [Zach Freedman] decided it was time to start his own build, resulting in the Data Blaster.

Epoxy holds the printed parts to the Pi 400

The Raspberry Pi has always been popular in the nascent cyberdeck scene, providing real Linux computing power in a compact, portable package. Now, we have the Raspberry Pi 400, which is exactly that, built into a shell that is, approximately, half of a cyberdeck. This formed the base of [Zach]’s build, coming in handy with its full-sized keyboard.

To that, he added a widescreen 1280×480 LCD, wearable display, and a USB powerbank, turning it into a true go-anywhere terminal. The 3D-printed handles are a particularly nice touch, making it easy to use the deck from a standing position, something that no laptop really does well. As a bonus, there’s even a tiny software defined radio on the side, complete with a collapsible antenna for that added cool factor. 

It’s a fun build, and a useful one too. We suspect the chunky plastics and grabbable design might actually make the Data Blaster preferable to a laptop in rugged field use versus a more traditional laptop. We’ve seen some other great work in this area, too. Video after the break.

A Raspberry Pi 400 UPS Add-On, It’s Not All Plain Sailing

Since the recent launch of the all-in-one Raspberry Pi 400, the global hardware community have taken to the new platform and are investigating its potential for hardware enhancements. On the back it has the same 40-pin expansion connector as its single-board siblings, but it’s horizontal rather than vertical, which means that all of the conventional HATs sit in a rather ungainly upright position.

One of the first Pi 400 HATs we’ve seen comes from [Patrick Van Oosterwijck], who has made a very neat 18650-based UPS add-on that is intended to eventually fit in the back of the machine in a similar way to the home computer cartridge peripherals of old. Unfortunately not all has gone according to plan, and in finding out why that is the case we learn something about the design of the 400, and maybe even take a chance to reflect on the Pi Foundation itself.

On the face of it the 400’s interface is the same as that of its single board computer stablemates, but something this project reveals is that its 5 V pins have a current limit of 1 A. This turns out to preclude the type of plug-in Pi UPS that sits on a HAT that we’re used to, in that 1 A through the 5 V pin is no longer enough to run the computer.

This effectively puts a stop to [Patrick]’s project, though he can repurpose it for a Pi 4 and its siblings once he’s dealt with a converter chip overheating problem. He does however make a complaint about the Pi Foundation’s slowness in releasing such data about their products, and given that long-time Pi-watchers will remember a few other blips in the supply of Pi hardware data he has a point. A quick check of the Raspberry Pi GitHub repository reveals nothing related to the Pi 400 at the time of writing, and though it shares much with its Pi 4 sibling it’s obvious that there are enough differences to warrant some extra information.

Hardware hackers may not be part of the core education focus of the Pi range, but a healthy, interested, and active hardware community that feels nurtured by its manufacturer remains key to the supply of interesting Pi-related products feeding into that market. We’d like to urge the Pi Foundation to never forget the hardware side of their ecosystem, and make hardware specification an integral part of every product launch on day one.

If the Pi 400 catches your interest, you can read our review here.

Adventures In Overclocking: Which Raspberry Pi 4 Flavor Is Fastest?

There are three different versions of the Raspberry Pi 4 out on the market right now: the “normal” Pi 4 Model B, the Compute Module 4, and the just-released Raspberry Pi 400 computer-in-a-keyboard. They’re all riffing on the same tune, but there are enough differences among them that you might be richer for the choice.

The Pi 4B is easiest to integrate into projects, the CM4 is easiest to break out all the system’s features if you’re designing your own PCB, and the Pi 400 is seemingly aimed at the consumer market, but it has a dark secret: it’s an overclocking monster capable of running full-out at 2.15 GHz indefinitely in its stock configuration.

In retrospect, there were hints dropped everywhere. The system-on-a-chip that runs the show on the Model B is a Broadcom 2711ZPKFSB06B0T, while the SOC on the CM4 and Pi 400 is a 2711ZPKFSB06C0T. If you squint just right, you can make out the revision change from “B” to “C”. And in the CM4 datasheet, there’s a throwaway sentence about it running more efficiently than the Model B. And when I looked inside the Pi 400, there was this giant aluminum heat spreader attached to the SOC, presumably to keep it from overheating within the tight keyboard case. But there was one more clue: the Pi 400 comes clocked by default at 1.8 GHz, instead of 1.5 GHz for the other two, which are sold without a heat-sink.

Can the CM4 keep up with the Pi 400 with a little added aluminum? Will the newer siblings leave the Pi 4 Model B in the dust? Time to play a little overclocking!

Continue reading “Adventures In Overclocking: Which Raspberry Pi 4 Flavor Is Fastest?”