Skip navigation
> RoadTest Reviews

Pocket Beagle - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 8
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 9
Demo Software was of good quality: 7
Product was easy to use: 8
Support materials were available: 8
The price to performance ratio was good: 9
TotalScore: 49 / 60
  • RoadTest: Pocket Beagle
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Raspberry Pi, Arduino
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Difficulty in connecting to Internet from PocketBeagle.

  • Detailed Review:

    Pocket Beagle size comparison to LEGO minifig

     

    This is my first use of a BeagleBoard product. I was attracted to the small size and price of this product while still being able to run Linux. My first concern was about how this device would be easy to use without any display connected.

     

    The PocketBeagle contains a 1GHz ARM v7 CPU and 512Mb RAM. Storage is done via a microSD slot, which you will have to provide an SD card for. I'm using an 8GB SD card and the minimum recommended size is 4GB.

     

    The packaging the board comes in has very clear instructions on how to get started. The first step is to get an image to install on the SD card. These are Debian images and work on both the BeagleBone and and PocketBeagle boards. There are two images available, one with the LXQT desktop and a smaller IoT image which is perfect for the PocketBeagle. The download was 491MB. The getting started guide recommends a nice looking cross platform graphical tool to write the image to the SD card, but in my case I just used 'dd' from the command line on my Ubuntu laptop and that worked fine.

     

    Once the image was copied over I inserted the SD card into the PocketBeagle and connected it via a USB cable to my laptop. It booted up in about 1.5 mins and showed up as drive on my laptop. The drive contains a webpage (START.htm) with lots of detailed information about the board, which I thought was a nice way to get started. The webpage is copied from the online website, which meant that parts of it were out of date and some links didn't work quite as I had expected. The drive also contained some drivers, which were not required for Ubuntu but may be useful in other operating systems.

     

    As well as showing as a drive the PocketBeagle shows as a USB ethernet device. In my case it had the address 192.168.7.2, but I believe this might be different on other OSs. Pointing my web browser to that address shows another webpage with information about the PocketBeagle. It includes some examples on how to code with it, including one that allowed you to control the four user configurable LEDs using Javascript from inside the browser.

     

    Secure shell is enabled out of the box, so the following could get me into the Linux image (password is 'temppwd'):

    ssh debian@192.168.7.2

     

    Once inside I wanted to try and update the software. However, by default this doesn't work. You can set the default route in the PocketBeagle to be your laptop and with some firewall changes on the laptop get this to work but it's not easy to do.

     

    The PocketBeagle comes without any I/O connectors, but does have 72 IO pins you can connect to. The back of the board has these all clearly labelled which is very handy. With a little bit of soldering you can easily attach some I2C or USB devices to the board. BeagleBoard also sells a large selection of 'Capes' to add feature to the board.

     

    At $25USD, how does the PocketBeagle compare to the competition?

    • An Arduino is likely to be cheaper (e.g. UNO approx $22USD), but you get a much more powerful OS and CPU with the PocketBeagle.
    • The Raspberry Pi 4 costs more at $35USD, but gives you more of a full computer experience. The PocketBeagle would work better if you need a simpler device and want to save space.
    • The Pi Zero W is cheaper at $10USD and gives you more networking and display capabilities but has an older ARMv6 processor compared to the v7 in the PocketBeagle. The Zero is also has volume limitations.

     

    In conclusion the PocketBeagle is a small, affordable device that allows you to make embedded projects. It's a good choice when you want something more powerful than a microcontroller, but don't want a full featured computer like a Raspberry Pi. I would probably still consider the Pi Zero better value in general, but both would work well.


Comments

Also Enrolling

Enrollment Closes: Oct 4 
Enroll
Enrollment Closes: Oct 10 
Enroll
Enrollment Closes: Oct 1 
Enroll
Enrollment Closes: Oct 4 
Enroll