With so many streaming TV boxes available these days it can be difficult to decide what to buy. They all do different things and your requirements seem to be forever changing. One minute video & Kodi is your thing and the next catchup TV apps or gaming. If this is you then take a look at the Raspberry Pi. The Pi is a tiny micro computer that you can program to do pretty much what ever you like. You can create your own Raspberry Pi projects including media players and gaming devices. In our Raspberry Pi 3 Review we will show you exactly what the device is and try to give an idea of how it can be used for home media solutions. We will also provide the full Raspberry Pi 3 Model B specs to help you decide if it will suite your needs.
Raspberry Pi Products & Accessories
When you have completed our Raspberry Pi 3 Model B review see the price compare table below which highlights some of the top Raspberry Pi products to get you started.
Raspberry Pi 3 Review – Build Your Own Media Player
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is a great piece of kit and provides some top project opportunities for the enthusiast. We begin our Raspberry Pi 3 review looking at what the product is and what it has under the hood. As HMP is a site for digital media and home entertainment we will then look at how the Raspberry Pi 3 can be used for some digital media projects. [Read: Best Raspberry Pi Case for Touch Screen Projects]
What is a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B?
The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is the latest from a series of micro computers produced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. In essence a Raspberry Pi contains all of the components of a full desktop PC but comes packed into a board the size of a credit card. It’s original intention was to provide a good platform for learning computing within schools but its popularity has far exceeded expectations. Many tech enthusiast realised the many possibilities of such a small device and the types of tech solutions you can create with it. There are now numerous Raspberry Pi projects, accessories and software distributions making the Pi a massive hobby solution.
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Specs
The table below provides the full Raspberry Pi 3 Model B specs and shows you what can be found on the board.
|CPU||Quadcore 1.2GHz Broadcom 64bit||Outputs||Full size HDMI, 4 Pole Stereo|
|Memory||1GB||Camera||CSI Camera Port|
|Networking||Ethernet, Wireless & Bluetooth||Display||DSI Port for Touchscreen|
|Expansion||1x Micro SD*, 4X USB 2.0 Ports||Power||Micro USB 2.5A|
*The Micro SD port is used to hold your operating system and software distribution.
As you can see the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B specs are similar to that of a lower end desktop PC all packed into tiny circuit board. You also get a whole bunch of peripherals / expansions including 4 USB ports and multiple networking options (wireless was a new edition to version 3 of the Pi). With a full sized HDMI port your Raspberry Pi projects will work with all modern TVs and will output some decent resolutions. [Read: Best Wireless Speakers for Home Audio].
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Connectivity Ports
Next in our Raspberry Pi 3 Model B review a look at connectivity. The images that follow show all of the connectivity ports that are available on the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. You will notice that the connectivity ports take up a large portion of the Raspberry Pi 3 main board! As already stated the Pi 3 is the first in the series to include Wifi. The image below shows all of the ports located along the longer side of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. [Read: The Best Things You Can Do with Amazon Echo & Alexa]
Moving from left to right you can see a micro USB connectivity port used for power. A HDMI socket for connectivity to modern TVs and an audio socket for connecting both speakers and headphones. The image below shows the connectivity ports along the shorter side of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. [Read: Best TV Box for Netflix and Online Streaming Services]
As you can see this tiny device provides all of the main ports that a full desktop PC has to offer. They are also cleverly positioned in such a way that standardised Raspberry Pi 3 cases can be used that give full access to all connectivity sockets. [Read: Steam Link Review – Stream Games to Every Room]
Programming the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B & Software
The Raspberry Pi is a Linux based micro computer. It will run many Linux distributions tailored for the device. On the underside of the Raspberry Pi board there is a micro SD card slot which is there for you to place an operating system. To program your Raspberry Pi for a particular project you must format a new micro SD card, download or create your Linux distribution file set and then install it onto the Micro SD card. Once you have done this, slip the Micro SD card into your Raspberry Pi and power it up. Your Linux distribution will then be launched on your Raspberry Pi device. [Read: Best PC Game Controllers for HTPC – Emulators & Steam]
There are many tailored software images available to download for the Raspberry Pi 3. The Raspberry Pi Foundation have created Raspbian which is an operating system based on Debian designed for the Pi product. The is also the RetroPie image designed for classic gaming on the Raspberry Pi. There are too many images to cover in our Raspberry Pi 3 review. We will look further at some of these in future posts. [Read: Top Mini ITX Cases for the Smallest HTPC Build]
Uses for the Raspberry Pi 3 & Raspberry Pie Projects
There is a huge number of projects you can take on with a Pi. Below are a few ideas for our Raspberry Pi 3 Model B review.
- A simple desktop PC
- A retro gaming device
- An arcade gaming device
- A media player (Kodi)
- A media server (Plex)
- An electronic pinball table
Click on the links above for further guidance. [Read: Best NAS for Plex – A Network Media Server]
Raspberry Pi 3 Price
An important part of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B review is to take a look at its price. It is important to note here that as standard the Raspberry Pi 3 comes as a lone circuit board. In order to get it up and running you will need to purchase a power supply and ideally a suitable Raspberry Pi case to get it up and running. This does not however take away the fact that the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B offers fantastic value! Remember that this is a full desktop PC in a tiny credit card sized board. You get the motherboard, CPU, memory, Ethernet & Wifi, USB ports etc etc. All of this for under $50!
HMP Verdict – Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Review
A Raspberry Pi 3 is worth a buy for anyone who has the time and desire to put it together. With the vast array of Raspberry Pi projects available it will certainly keep the tech enthusiast busy. The tiny board can be fitted into tight cases and can be used as the main hardware for different solutions. It isn’t just for the enthusiast though. Some of the popular OS images that contain game console emulator frontends or media playing applications like Kodi are easy to install. You can therefore create your own media player or gaming device that is tiny and highly portable. [Read: 3 Best Windows TV Stick Devices- Alternatives to Android]
One of the best things about the Pi 3 and one of the highlights of the Raspberry Pi 3 review is its price. You have to remember that the Pie contains the majority of the components found within a desktop PC and for all of these components its price is tiny. It is an extremely versatile product with endless possibilities. The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B is without doubt a great device for anyone into digital entertainment or for those who enjoy running with their own projects. [Read: Top 5 Emulator Frontends for your HTPC Media Center]