|Asus Takes Tinker Board Seriously Now Shipping In US|
|Written by Harry Fairhead|
|Monday, 01 May 2017|
Back when the Tinker Board launched in the UK we were puzzled by the less than solid support for it from Asus. Even UK distributor CPC dropped the product a few days later. Now things are looking very different.
Perhaps it was a case of being launched before everyone was ready, but when Asus introduced the Tinker Board, a direct competitor to the Raspberry Pi the initial response was some excitement that the first "big" machine manufacturer had got into this area of the market. The excitement soon turned to disappointment when users attempted to get things working. It was difficult to find the operating system and the Asus website for it looked incomplete to say the least. The final straw was when distributor CPC decided not to stock the device because it wasn't being supported well enough. At the moment CPC still hasn't reinstated the Tinker Board but Asus now seems to have got its act together.
The Tinker Board has now launched in the US and sells for $59.99 which compares well with the UK price of £46. Although this makes it more expensive that the Raspberry Pi 3 ($35) you need to bear in mind it is more powerful.
Along with the US launch, comes a much improved website that makes it much easier to find the software you need. A new version of TinkerOS also has some significant improvements that make it work more reliably. A more exciting development is the availability of Android 6.0.1. This is a full Android OS, and not Android Things which is aimed just at IoT applications. You can in principle run any Android apps and use it just like a tablet. One small problem is that most Android tablets don't reboot very often which is a good thing because they take a lot of time to start up. Unless you give the Tinker Board a battery power supply you will have to wait for a few minutes while it boots each time you want to start using it. Another problem is that as it isn't an official Google version of Android you aren't going to be able to use Play services and any apps that make use of Play services are unlikely to work.
The not quite so good news is that the technical part of the website is still a bit of a mess. Partly because the Tinker Board doesn't quite fit in with the usual Asus product line and hence there are many unused entries. The more polished consumer end of the website is much better, but if IoT is your interest you will only find Python code there. There is a C implementation but you have to look for it on the technical support site. So full marks for improvement, but Asus's presentation still isn't perfect.
So should you consider a Tinker Board?
The key issue is that it has almost twice the speed of the Raspberry Pi 3. This makes it much more attractive as a media center or even as a desktop replacement. It comes with WiFi and Bluetooth and, unlike the Raspberry Pi, the Ethernet port isn't on a shared connection to the CPU, which should make both faster. As a media center it can decode 4K video for playback using the special media player.
If you consider it a faster and more capable Raspberry Pi then you have the general idea. However, despite having the same 40-pin GPIO connector there is no suggestion that it will run the Pi extension boards known as "Hats". It might be pin-compatible but the internals of the Rockchip RK3288 are different and drivers would have to be modified to work.
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|Last Updated ( Monday, 01 May 2017 )|