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Pi-Top[4] Review - DLTV's Nathan Alison

If you've heard about Raspberry Pi but always wondered what it is, keep reading!

Launched eight years ago in the UK, Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer about the length and width of a credit card, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB ports for mouse, keyboard and other peripherals, and a HDMI port for connecting to a monitor. Raspberry Pi is capable of running an operating system like your laptop or desktop computer and usually comes with a flavour of Linux called Raspberry Pi OS, along with office apps, web browser, and other applications.

All this makes the Raspberry Pi different from less complex microcontrollers like micro:bit or Arduino, which receive programs students code on computers. With the Raspberry Pi, it is the computer, capable of bigger and more complex programs, but also with exposed pins for electronic experiments. The device is used in many schools across Australia, and is available as part of a number of different kits and containers.

Enter pi-top[4], the fourth generation Raspberry Pi educational platform from pi-top. pi-top [4] keeps the Raspberry Pi 4 inside a robust protective case, with a rechargeable internal battery to power it when not plugged in. All the expected ports are available on the sides, as well as a small OLED display and action buttons on top. I plugged in a mouse, keyboard and monitor, and began exploring the OS and apps. Like every OS, it had a few updates to do when I first booted up. I was pleased to see common classroom programming environments like Scratch and Mu came as standard.

But where pi-top [4] really takes off is through its bottom connector, which looks a bit like a laptop docking port. Snap this onto the Foundation Kit and you've got an electronics experiment lab with sixteen ports for connecting 3V sensors, LEDs and other actuators. These individual components are beautifully presented with magnetic bases and attachable Lego adapters. Code them to flash, buzz or provide input values using Python directly on the pi-top. You can also code the display and buttons on the pi-top itself.

An online learning platform, Further, provides a series of experiments, and allows teachers to set up classes and lessons of their own.

Soon, pi-top [4] will also snap onto a small keyboard and screen, allowing it to function like a laptop. Other features like LMS integration and improved integration with common classroom office suites are also available or in the works.

To learn more, visit Australian supplier The Brainary, or contact

The Brainary is pleased to offer DLTV members the following:

Complimentary Professional Learning with the Brainary's STEM expert, Sam Kingsley - 3 hours, with every Pi-Top[4] purchase.

Complimentary Pi-Top[4] when 5 or more Pi-Tops are purchased. 

This article was written by DLTV's Nathan Alison after testing a sample kit.