The Clone Wars !
The explosion of the market of nanos computers is something that is no more to demonstrate. You can even hear about them in large media. Orange, Banana, Raspberry. You are in a true fruit salad. At a level that when you arrive in this world, one may well ask what makes the difference between each card and how to choose.
The arrival of Raspberry Pi gave many ideas in education, as the tweakers but also companies, which some of them do not hesitate to openly copy the concept. But it was also without counting on the arrival of the IoT wave (understanding the connected objects) made them even more popular.
Too many clones, kill the clones
Looking at manufacturers, we have the choice (and I've surely forgotten some) : the Raspberry for the Raspberry Foundation, Lemaker for the Banana ft, Shenzhen Xunlong Software for the Orange Pi, HardKernel for the Odroid, SolidRun for the HummingBoard, BeagleBone, Acme Systems for the Arietta G25 and many others, not to mention Intel with Galileo and Windows IoT. Already here we no longer know where to go.
This becomes even more complicated when we look at the details of cards. Each manufacturer offers several of them, losing a little more the neophyte (but not only) when there is the question of what he should choose. Some would say that it depends on what the guy wants to do but even with an idea the choice is not trivial. I have already told you the Banana Pi few months ago where the conclusion was (in the outline) despite higher power for the Banana (compared to Pi B ), the raspberry had more worshippers and another approach in its development. Things not necessarily visible at first glance.
In addition to this, a funny thing (at least for my opinion) is the presentation of some of these cards on websites with .org giving an impression that we will not fatten large companies but there are instead dealing with a community of enthusiasts, that the price of the card is there to help make a new improved version. If for some it is the case like the Raspberry Foundation which posted early, I am not convinced that this is the case for cards such as the 'Orange Pi' or 'Banana Pi' where it feels good cleverly calculated marketing (Yes it is the principle of marketing …).
The Raspberry Pi, one step ahead ?
The arrival of the Raspberry early enough on the market allowed him to develop in many industrial projects. Which gives him a visibility but also public recognition. The founder of the Foundation met with Queen Elizabeth II, not sure that other manufacturers also have had this opportunity.
This effect snowball allows it to maintain a strong and virtuous image, to attract a growing community around which became a phenomenon that is no more reserved to nerds.
So is the Raspberry Pi is the best card ? No. For me the other manufacturers have taken up the idea with more or less success. Some are based on pure performances, memory, connectors, the size, consumption, compatibility, the price, etc.. But what I think makes the difference since the beginning, this is the principle of the Foundation and the idea to allow children access to computers. Therefore the purely technical side was no longer as important, each buyer having the feeling to be part of a beautiful adventure, while having fun.
There are surely other criteria, because if it was as simple, the One Laptop Per Child charity program would not have had as many difficulties to emerge (has it only emerged ?). I think the communication work of Liz isn't there for nothing !
And when even the technique is significant for some ? This is when the Foundation announces a version 2 which, without filling all gaps (where is my Gigabit Ethernet !), partially overtakes its competitors, with even the surprise of the Windows 10 compatibility 10 which in my opinion still offers new perspectives of use, whether you are for or against Microsoft. This shows once again the notoriety that has the Foundation by attracting this kind of business.
But then which one to choose ?
For fun, I still wanted to illustrate the difficulty of choosing a card, taking six constructors and comparing them quickly together. For this I took sixteen cards that seem to me to be quite known and I made a little chart (in english to enable everyone to read) :
If you find any errors please feel free to notify me.
Does it simplify things ? Not sure at all ! Not having a feature does not necessarily mean to be less good. The Arietta G25 has a lack of functions but its size and consumption reduced offer other benefits.
Like I said to you, Raspberry Pi is not the best card from a technical point of view. But it remains for me one that meets most of my requirements and in addition has an ethic that I find positive, especially in the electronic environment where usually only the reduction in costs is faith. It remains for me unbeatable.
This is my sharing of ideas on the subject. It is not an absolute truth or journalistic analysis, just a reflection of my opinion, which may of course be criticized, in respect of each !