Raspberry Pi - A cheap, useful, family computer.
The Raspberry Pi is a small PC about the size of a credit card with a thickness of about a deck of cards. It is not built for speed, but can definitely function in many varying ways and work sufficiently for most needs. If you have a couple of children that are all about ready for their first computer for browsing the web or researching on this is definitely a good route to go instead of buying multiple expensive desktop or laptop computers. With minimal investment you can have each child up and running with their own PC in a matter of a few minutes.
Initially, you will probably want to purchase a few things to get up and running: An SD Card, a keyboard, a mouse, a power brick (cell phone chargers generally work fine), a USB Hub, and some speakers (unless your monitor supports HDMI). If you have ethernet at the locations you would put the Raspberry Pi, then you can run ethernet for internet access, but if you would like wireless there is some minimal configuration and you would need the USB hub at this point.
There are several different flavors of operating systems that you can run on the Pi, ranging from standard desktop operating systems to HTPC interface O/S with variants of XBMC. Some of the Operating systems can be found and downloaded from the Raspberry Pi website. These include Raspbian, Soft-float Debian, Arch Linux, QtonPi, Xbian, OpenElec, and RaspBMC.
With the varying operating systems you can configure your Raspberry Pi for some of the following ideas (amongst many):
With OpenElec, RaspBMC, or Xbian, all XBMC variants, you can connect your Rasperry Pi to your 1080p HDMI T.V. and use your Raspberry Pi to stream music or movies from your local network or through online sources such as YouTube straight to your T.V. XBMC has some beautiful themes that allow you to change the looks of your HTPC to impress your friends.
The Raspberry Pi can be used in combo with a webcam or security camera as a storage and control device to create the ultimate low-wattage concealable security system. You can use this to monitor your belongings, or the perimeter of your house locally or remotely for constant viewing.
If you own a lot of older game system games but get tired of connecting them all to your T.V. and switching them out and keeping track of your games you can use ROM files and emulation software available in the Raspberry Pi site to play those games. You need to own the games so that you can legitimately play the ROM files, so please don't beg looking for ROMs for games you do not own.
Robotics and Animatronics
The Raspberry Pi can be used in conjunction with other controlling devices for manipulating Motors, Servos, and other mechanical devices using the Pi's onboard GPIO pins to connect the devices. I personally have yet to use this functionality myself, but from what I have heard and read this can be pretty cool stuff especially for teaching children about programming and robotics. For a $35 computer, that is pretty impressive and if you are interested in trying it out or having a few weekend project with the kids.. it is definitely worth it.
These are again just a few of the great things you can do with this new $35 low cost low power computer, needless to say the things you may come up with on your very own after owning one and using it for a while. Check out their homepage and order one today, you won't regret it, and most folks can spend $35 on junk anyways.. why not something educational!
Please add your feedback or ideas below to let the rest of us know what you have used your Raspberry Pi for.