ASUS has launched a rival to the Raspberry Pi that offers the ability to decode 4K video. At the heart of the board is a Rockchip SoC that offers four Cortex A17 cores running at 1.8GHz, an ARM Mali-T764 GPU, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.
The Cortex A17 CPU is 32-bit and not 64-bit like the newer Raspberry Pi, but the Mali-T764 GPU has H.265 decode, paving the way for 4K video playback. The board also offers gigabit Ethernet, SDIO 3.0, and a built-in Wi-Fi b/g/n module. Here’s the full list of hardware:
- Quad core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A17 CPU
- 2GB Dual channel LPDDR3 memory
- Gigabit LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR connectivity
- 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
- 4x USB 2.0 ports
- 40-pin Internal header with 28 GPIO pins
- Contact points for PWM and S/PDIF signals
- 1x 3.5mm Audio jack connection
- CSI port for camera connection
- DSI port supporting HD resolution
- 1x HDMI 2.0 port to support 4K resolution
- Micro SD port supports UHS-I
- Supports Debian OS with KODI
- Power supply: 5V/ 2A Micro USB (not included)
Given the hardware on offer, ASUS’ board has the potential to be the ideal media center. Although it has 4K decode, you won’t be able to run Netflix on it, as that option is still limited to PCs running Kaby Lake hardware on Windows 10 — even then, you can only stream from Microsoft Edge. The limitation is because of the PlayReady DRM.
That said, you can install Kodi on the Tinker Board and get started. The board itself runs a variant of Debian — much like the Raspberry Pi — but ASUS is starting from scratch. One of the reasons for the success of the Raspberry was because of its active community of tinkerers, and ASUS will have to build its own community from the ground up.
The Tinker Board is available now in Singapore @ SGD$129 in all major stores.