Raspberry Pi computers are pretty damn great. Not only are they small and inexpensive, but they are ideal for tinkering and learning. And yes, they can serve as excellent media boxes thanks to the Linux-based LibreELEC. With the Raspberry Pi 4, however, it is finally powerful enough to serve as a true desktop computer — prior models were capable, but offered woefully slow desktop experiences.
With all of that said, surely the Raspberry Pi 4 is highly recommended, right? Actually no. Sadly, we must warn you not to buy this seemingly solid piece of hardware. Unfortunately, it has one massive faulty aspect, meaning you should probably pass on it.
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You see, the Raspberry Pi 4’s USB-C power port was designed outside of official specifications, making it incompatible with many USB-C chargers (aka power supplies). You can read more about it here, in a blog post by famed USB-C tester Benson Leung — an engineer at Google.
Yes, with certain chargers, you can make it run properly and have a solid experience. The Raspberry Pi Foundation even promises the “official” charger is guaranteed to work, but that is a frustrating suggestion — the foundation will essentially make money off of the design failure. There are plenty of non-official chargers that will work too — you can do your own trial-and-error testing, or read online forums to see which ones other customers have had success with.
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Here’s the thing though — you shouldn’t have to do that. The Raspberry Pi 4 should work with all USB-C chargers, and it is absurd that consumers should be expected to live with such a design failure. True, this is an inexpensive device, but that is irrelevant — you shouldn’t have to drink spoiled milk from the grocery because it only cost $4.00. Since a revised (fixed) model should be released eventually, you will end up owning a lesser tainted variant — that just isn’t fair.
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Ultimately, The Raspberry Pi Foundation should offer free replacements to affected customers, but I don’t see that happening. Another solution would be to provide a free “official” charger, but that is doubtful too. Oh well. If you really want the Raspberry Pi 4, you should definitely wait for the fixed models to be released — you work too hard for your money to compromise.
Hell, you could opt for an entirely different Linux-compatible single-board computer instead — Raspberry Pi isn’t the only game in town. For instance, while not necessary equal to the Pi 4, there is the ASUS Tinker Board S and NanoPi M4. Don’t settle, y’all.
Photo credit: Jag_cz / Shutterstock
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