I love any new technology, and also something that’s a bit different from the norm. So when I was asked to review the Pi-Top laptop, I couldn’t wait and let my twins loose on this awesome bit of kit.
Pi-Top is a modular laptop that you build yourself, allowing you to discover a world of electronics, coding and inventing, plus many more fantastic projects.
This particular Pi-Top also includes the DIY inventors kit, and Raspberry Pi, which is the brains behind the Pi-Top. I will elaborate more on Raspberry Pi later in the post.
Recently my twin girls have got more involved with coding and Pi-Top is a perfect way to help improve their skills.
What you get in the box
You get all the tools required to start creating and inventing, which includes:
• 4x Inventors cardboard cutout
• 2x Guide booklets
• 1x pi-top modular laptop
• 1x Inventors kit
• 1x Raspberry Pi & 1x Power supply unit
Upon opening the box I was instantly impressed the components. They were very neatly packaged with a place for everything. I was very impressed by the Pi-Top colour. It’s a bold, bright green and upon taking it out, it instantly felt like quality and precision made.
The first booklet, ‘Getting Started’, was very simple to follow. The laptop is already built so you just have to add the electronic components to bring your Pi-Top to life.
Let’s get started
My twins love getting involved whenever I am building something. They always want to help which is something I have always tried to encourage.
The keyboard slides down to reveal the micro-computer. The keyboard slides with ease and doesn’t stick at all which shows the quality of the product. Once it’s open you’ll need to find the Pi-Top multi-tool which can be found below the cooling bridge. Using the Pi-Top multi-tool, carefully remove the cooling bridge. This is something my daughter helped with and she found the Pi-Top multi-tool very easy to use. Next you need to very carefully slide the hub PCB. Be careful not to push it too hard or too far.
Now it’s time to remove the Raspberry Pi placeholder which is held in place by 4 Raspberry Pi screws and lift it out. The memory card now needs to be inserted into the Raspberry Pi which slides in very easily, in fact my daughter did that part.
Place the Raspberry Pi and slide into the USB port. Now using the multi-tool, screw the Raspberry-Pi into place, being careful not to over tighten. Next slide the hub across to connect to Raspberry Pi, making sure the HDMI and audio jack are aligned correctly. There are screws to higher and lower the hub for perfect alignment.
Finally place the cooling tower. Be very careful to align the Raspberry Pi GP10 pins. Screw into place and be careful not to over tighten. That’s it! Slide the keyboard back up, and yes! You have built your Pi-Top modular laptop. Now the fun starts and my twins and I can’t wait to get started.
Turning the Pi-Top on
I turned on the Pi-Top and watched it boot up the screen. It’s very easy to follow and setting it up on a step-by-step basis was simple.
On the home screen there are a number of options and lots of pre-installed apps, but my daughters and I are eager to get on with our first project which is called ‘Let there be Light!’ Click on ‘Pi-Top CODER’, and search for Let there be Light.
I remember in high school creating a light using circuits, so creating a light using a combination of circuit and coding is very cool. You need to slide the circuit into place to use when creating light. Between the three of us we managed quite quickly to create light. The girls were quite amazed at their achievement, but after all, this is their world. They will be growing up in a very technological world. I believe the earlier they learn about coding, they will be better prepared for the future.
This is absolutely awesome, it gives you the basics of coding, before moving onto a journey of your choice which are: Music Maker, Space Race and Smart Robot. All of these have many activities within their own section. For instance, once you have built your Smart Robot you can through coding feed him and clap hands. Awesome fun!
The Inventors Guide comes complete with everything you need to build your choice of project, and there are over 20 projects to complete.
This is also on the home screen. When you click on it, you’re sent on a journey to the CEEDuniverse. Along the way, you will learn to code Python. You can build circuits. A good one is Flashlight’, to help you see in dark caves. You meet some amazing characters along your journey including Peat, Oswald and Susie. My twin daughters can’t wait to start the adventure.
There is also a version of Minecraft where you use text commands to interact, which enables you to build things in the game automatically using Python.
Another, which I think is truly innovative is Sonic Pi which enables you to create, compose and perform music using code and this is in an incredible amount of styles.
Also pre-installed on the Pi-Top is G Suite which includes google+, calculator and many more applications to help your work across all devices. Finally they have Libre Office. This is fully compatible with Microsoft Office, macOS and Google Drive.
Pi-Top says: “Unleash your inner inventor to create projects and explore technology.”
I have to say this is a fantastic way to do this. My girls, after just one project have been inspired to do the next one. Their curiosity for technology is fascinating. They simply can’t get enough of it. They are coming to an age when their minds are sponges for knowledge, and a Pi-Top modular laptop is a perfect start to satisfying their need for knowledge and to challenge them.
I would highly recommend the Pi-Top laptop. It’s fantastic value for a bit of quality tech kit. It will keep your children entertained, but also help with their education, especially in the technological world that they are growing up in.
My twins and I are off now to build our robot. Can’t wait!
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Disclosure: I was gifted a Pi-top Laptop in exchange for this review