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ASUS Tinker Board Review

The ASUS Tinker Board is a promising bit of hardware, and it’s great to see the increased interest in low-cost computers aimed at encouraging the budding engineer or product designer. Looking at the earliest reviews of the Tinker Board, it was hampered by not having a dedicated site where you could find the details required to set it up. Now that’s here, the prospect is much more competitive.

There is no doubt that the Tinker Board hardware is much more powerful than the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, and in fact one of the most powerful of its type. The Android TinkerOS is interesting, but until it includes the Google Play Store it’s not going to be that useful, even if it is a slick and capable barebones OS. The Debian OS comes in a rather limited initial form, but you can add a wide range of applications to make this a really useful little computer for very little money.


The GPIO APIs further extend the functionality, but this area still feels very rough and ready, and you will need a fair bit of knowledge already to get anywhere, particularly with the C and Python APIs. So the Tinker Board is not quite ready for teaching. The Raspberry Pi’s huge existing community and resources gives it a massive head start in this respect. But that doesn’t count the Tinker Board out at all. It’s quite a bit more expensive than a Pi, but a lot more powerful, and if you’re looking for cheap configurable computer with GPIO and enough grunt to play 4K video without breaking a sweat, the ASUS Tinker Board is well worth buying.

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Pros:

  • Choice of Android or Debian Linux operating systems.
  • Much more powerful than a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.
  • 40-pin GPIO header for attaching input and output devices.
  • 15-pin DSI and CSI headers.
  • Decent 3D graphics acceleration.
  • Hardware acceleration for playing video up to 4K.
  • Gigabit Ethernet LAN.

Cons:

  • More expensive than a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.
  • GPIO API support still in its infancy.
  • TinkerOS Android sorely needs to come with the Google Play Store pre-installed.

KitGuru says: The ASUS Tinker Board delivers much more powerful hardware than a Raspberry Pi. Although its tinkering abilities still have some way to go, there’s lots of potential here for makers and budding product designers, as well as anyone who just wants a tiny and cheap but capable Linux computer.

WORTH BUYING

Rating: 8.5.

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