If you’re a tinkerer and fan of all things DIY, boy is there something new for you to play with. Of all the companies you could consider becoming hobbyist and micro-computer board friendly, the medal goes to Asus, who has just launched its own take on the Raspberry Pi. It’s Tinker Board is a mini-board similar to the Pi, meaning it has everything required to run as a computer, also featuring some neat upgrades, like 4K video entertainment!
A good choice as Asus’s entry into the itty bitty computer committee, the specifically titled “Asus 90MB0QY1-M0EAY0 Tinker Board” is a credit card-sized device that could very well make a great mini-HTPC computer. Reason being, besides its 4K video ability, including support for H.265 4K decoding (also known as High Efficiency Video Coding), it also runs 192kHz/24-bit audio, whereas the Raspberry Pi held a 48k/16 bit sound. All of this is possible thanks to the Tinker’s internals. Supplying this level of potential starts with the slightly more powerful processor (than the Pi), a Rockchip 1.8Ghz quad-core ARM Cortex A17. The latest Pi model, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, sports a 64-bit Cortex A53 quad-core chip. Also knocking the Raz Pi outta the ring is Asus’s choice of bringing in an ARM Mali-T764 for its graphics, paired with 2GB of DDR3 memory, as compared to a Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU used in the Pi 3. Other than that, the Tinker Board has twice the amount of RAM! The last of the more adequate specs include Gigabit Ethernet, whereas the Pi stands with a 100Mb LAN.
The Tinker Board comes with built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4 USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a MicroSD port, gigabit ethernet, a 40-pin internal header with 28 GPIO pins, a CSI port for a camera, as well as a DSI port. Besides all the lovely specs of Asus’s device, taking a look at both company's choice in form-factors, this is basically a solid “drop-in replacement” for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. It measures 8.5cm by 5.3cm, and looks almost exactly the same to the naked eye- not Pi lovers, the naked eye. Testing on that 4K video isn’t exactly bursting with the results we’d like to see at the moment. But this little guy isn’t even available in the U.S. yet. Also, if you really need 4K, and love a mini-PC, it’s worth noting you won’t be watching any 4K videos created with that high efficiency encoding process (that also means Netflix). The lack of Intel Kaby Lake and/or Windows 10-based software means this type of PC isn’t equipped in that way. Streaming isn’t impossible though! If you have a Chromecast Ultra, or Nvidia Shield, you should be good to go. The Tinker Board from Asus is currently being distributed in the UK and Europe for now, priced around $57.
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