It's difficult to beat the value on offer with a Raspberry Pi. You get a very capable Linux PC in a credit card-sized package. But there are a few areas where it could be improved, most notably, the lack of on-board storage. That's where the NanoPi M1 Plus from FriendlyElec comes in. It's trying to compete with the Raspberry Pi by adding on board storage. It's also two-thirds the size and only costs $29.99.
The 64-by-60mm NanoPi M1 Plus uses an Allwinner H3 quad-core Cortex A7 processor running at 1.2GHz. That's backed up by a Mali 400MP2 GPU running at 600MHz and 1GB of DDR3 RAM. Storage can be expanded using a micro SD card, but unlike the Raspberry Pi this board includes 8GB of eMMC storage as standard. That's more than enough for an operating system.
On that front, FriendlyElec includes support for running Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Core, and Debian. There's also a Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11b/g/n wireless, an IR sensor, Bluetooth 4.0, microphone, HDMI 1.4 with support for up to 1080p resolution output, three USB 2.0 ports, Micro-USB for power, as well as power and reset buttons. The 40-pin GPIO is also compatible with the Raspberry Pi's GPIO.
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For your $30 you'll get the board, a power cable, and antenna. There's a number of optional extras to purchase including a 5MP camera module, heatsink, GPS module, 3-axis digital compass, and many more suggesting FriendlyElec aims to hit the ground running against the established Raspberry Pi line-up.
It seems unlikely the NanoPi M1 Plus will challenge the Raspberry Pi's dominance, but that's in no small part due to the Pi already having a very well established ecosystem around it. If all you want is a tiny single-board desktop PC, however, the NanoPi is certainly worth a look.
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