Element14 was kind enough to send me a RIoTboard to try out, and after receiving it today I couldn't wait to try it out to see what it can do.
I have to note that I'm a total newbie to single board computers, so I had no idea what to expect.
What interested me in the RIoTboard is that it comes with Android installed, and from what I can tell there are some libraries available (edit: there are no libraries ) that make it easy to use the GPIO ports in an Android app - I'll definitely have to check that out at some point.
The first thing I had to do was to figure out what I needed to make this thing work.
Here's my list...
* 5v power adapter
* HDMI cable
* USB mouse
* USB keyboard (I think this is optional)
* Ethernet cable
* TV or monitor that connects via HDMI
Thankfully e14 included a power adapter for it, so that saved me searching for that, although I think the older routers I have in the basement might have 5v adapters with the right kind of plugin. In any case, if you're buying one of these you might want to also buy the adapter just to make sure you've got the right thing.
The other parts are easy - I already had an hdmi cable and an ethernet cable, as well as a keyboard. Oddly I couldn't find a mouse so I went and bought a little one at the dollar store for 5 bucks. Neither my monitor nor my wife's monitor have hdmi connections, but the living room TV did, so I hooked it up there.
Here's a picture of it all plugged in:
There's not a whole lot to it, is there? I'm used to the "old" days of computers taking up way too much desk space
It boots up quickly and easily:
It's a little weird to be running it on the big TV, and my hdmi cable was kind of short so ergonomics weren't ideal But ultimately I do want to use this for handling music and movies on my TV, so it's the right place for it.
I really like that! I love it when things are easy! Plug it in, it boots up, viola! The mouse works very intuitively too - I had an Android phone for a while so this all worked the way I would expect a regular Android phone to work. And everything is quick and responsive.
The HDMI cable also automatically hooks up the sound to the TV, so that was nice.
The biggest issues I ran into were the furry ones:
I guess that's to be expected when there's something new in the living room involving a lot of little cords, and that mouse cursor is just too irresistible!
I had a little uSD card, so I put music and a little video on it to try that out. It all worked nicely, but the sound was noticeable slowed down… not sure what's up with that yet.
Also, it didn't recognize my full sized SD card. I bet there's a setting for that somewhere.
The ethernet plug in my living room isn't hooked up and I didn't feel like figuring all that out tonight so I'll fiddle with that on the weekend (we have wired cat5 throughout the house, but we've been using wireless). So I wasn't able to try any of the connected kind of stuff yet.
All in all, it was a great first startup experience - like I said, I like it when things go easily!