To hit the $25 price point, the makers of the single-board computer—which has reportedly sold a million units in less than a year—had to strip down some of its features. The Ethernet port is removed, RAM is reduced to 256MB, and the unit has only one USB port.
The new Model A also consumes about a third of the power of its higher-priced sibling, the Model B, which sells for $35. That should be good news for RPi hackers puttering with running the computer on battery or solar power, as well as those tinkering with applications such as operating sensors at remote locations and setting up Wi-Fi repeaters.
Another application for the Model A cited by the foundation is as the hub of a media center. XBMC, a free and open source media player application, worked well with early Model B’s that had only 256MB of memory, so the software should work equally well with the Model A, the foundation reasoned.
Since its introduction, the credit-card sized RPi has attracted legions of followers who have used the devices for everything from homebrew mobile computers to a LEGO supercomputer.
The RPi community even has its own app store, opened last year, that offers free games, apps, tutorials, and media for the diminutive byte board.
John Mello writes on technology and cyber security for a number of online publications and is former managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and Boston Phoenix. Disclosure: He also writes for Hewlett-Packad's marketing website TechBeacon.