DIY and code with Elecrow’s CrowPi2 Laptop [Review]

Elecrow recently approached me to test their CrowPi2 educational laptop. I was really excited to find out, as I’m always interested in new and innovative educational technology products. In this article, I will give you my general impressions of the CrowPi2 after using it for a while. I will also talk about some of the pros and cons of the product. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

You may remember Elecrow from our Crowbits article a while back, but this laptop is different. The CrowPi2 is a fully functional Raspberry Pi laptop. It comes with its own built-in screen, keyboard, and trackpad. The CrowPi2 also has a number of ports which allow you to connect external devices, such as a mouse or an HDMI cable. All of this makes the CrowPi2 a great option for use as a laptop and not just as a toolkit for learning experiences.

Picture: Elecrow

While the marketing suggests that the CrowPi2 is primarily intended for use by children in STEM education, I’m not shy about sharing that I had a lot of fun with the kit as well. I’m not very familiar with using Linux distros as an operating system, nor am I a coder, so there was a lot to learn, even for an adult. Beyond the software aspect, the CrowPi2 also allows you to tinker with hardware and combine electronics with code that you can reuse, adapt or program yourself.

CrowPi2 Hardware Specifications and Notes

The CrowPi2 is a little clunky in its design, but considering we’re talking about a learning-focused piece of kit, it makes sense. I actually find it quite adorable, and it gives it a bit of a retro computing vibe, much like picking up a classic Game Boy these days.

LED light sensor
Picture: Elecrow

I was amazed that the keyboard and mouse are actually very pleasant to use. I might steal the mouse at some point and use it on another setup just because it’s kinda cool.

That’s it, but here are some more facts and figures for you:

  • 11.6″ IPS screen with 1920×1080 pixel resolution
  • Weighs 1.3 kg
  • It comes with a detachable wireless keyboard and mouse
  • A webcam with 2 megapixel resolution, a microphone and a stereo speaker are integrated
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Works with Raspberry Pi3B+, 3B, 4 (may be included depending on which version you purchase)
  • Various sensors, boards, connectors, pins, cables and other peripherals included
  • It does not come with a battery but can use power banks
  • Supported OS: Raspbian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Windows lOT, KALI, Pidora, ArchLinux, FreeBSD, Kodi, OpenWrt, RISC OS, RetroPie, LAKKA, Recalbox, LibreELEC, OSMC

Elecrow’s CrowPi2 is currently offered in three different versions: the Basic Kit, the Advanced Kit and the Deluxe Kit. I would recommend the deluxe kit as it includes a lot of conveniences, but if you already have a lot of the included parts, you might not need the deluxe version.

the CrowPi2 starts at around $339.98 if you check Amazon, but it might be a good idea to go for a better set than the base kit only if you’re entirely new to the crafting world. It is a nice DIY and making sandbox not only for kids. I love using it, and I think I’m not the only adult who would like to deal with the CrowPi2. It’s not cheap, but what did you expect when buying a laptop? The price is right in my books.

Elecrow CrowPi2 Comparison Advanced Deluxe Kit Basic Options
Picture: Elecrow

What type of learning does the CrowPi2 offer?

As for learning and coding software, lessons are included for learning Python, Scratch, working with the Minecraft API, as well as AI projects. The content is wrapped in a kid-friendly appeal, so it’s not too boring either.

Okay, yes, there can be many ways for anyone, kids and adults, to find learning resources and take courses to learn to code, but what makes the CrowPi2 interesting to me is the fact that it has a lot of material to play with, I mean work with.

CrowPi2 with sensors
Picture: Elecrow

I can simply detach the wireless keyboard from its fixed position on the laptop and can peer right into the technical innards of the laptop. Most laptops would surely look different if you opened them up like this, but the CrowPi2 offers many great features like this. You will now see what you can do with everything on the board and how you can plug in other equipment and gadgets that are also part of the CrowPi2 set but not installed by default.

For example, the combination of programming exercises and tinkering with hardware could lead to projects in the field of robotics or AI. You can use sensors and motors to program triggers, capture data, and set conditions that teach the machine what to do. You can try facial recognition and see if the CrowPi2 can actually recognize you or not.

And after all the work? Retro game time!

You can also play games with the CrowPi2 after all the learning is done. The Advanced and Deluxe kits even come with two controllers that look a lot like classic Super NES (Super Famicom) controllers, so you get a pretty pure retro gaming vibe.

CrowPi2 for retro games
Picture: Elecrow

So is it just a toy or what?

Again, the intent of this product is to be a learning toolkit that comes with software and hardware to learn more, but you can connect it to the internet and you can also use it as a computer ordinary laptop. It might not come with specs that could run heavy operations, but it’s way beyond being just a toy.

You can work with it, you can learn with it, you won’t miss much except for a few performances maybe, but you can still watch videos on YouTube, for example. So even if you and your kids have finished all the learning and know everything they could learn from the CrowPi2, they can still use it like a regular laptop, but not run a regular Windows OS, but it is also not a requirement for children. , that’s it ?

Minecraft hack
Picture: Elecrow

Summarize thoughts

The CrowPi2 is not a toy. It is an open and comprehensive technological education platform. It’s not a sleek, polished gadget with a single purpose. It’s a chunky, rugged and technical device that’s not made for gaming, yet it could be if you wanted to. The design is great, but the focus is not on looks. The focus is on simplicity, ease of use and functionality. Maybe modern smartphones and laptops should check out the CrowPi2 for inspiration.

While working with the CrowPi2, I continued to discover new aspects that only surprised me in a positive way. I found out that it also supports wifi and not just an ethernet connection to access the internet, for example. I discovered that there was a storage compartment with a socket for a cable so you could use a generic power bank, like the ones you charge your smartphone with, just as a battery to run the CrowPi2 also in shift. How cool is that?

And there’s a lot more to discover beyond that too, but I don’t want to spoil your trip too much by giving you everything. I’m sure once you unbox this beautiful device, you’ll also discover many things you’ll love to try. I’ve yet to see a more comprehensive learning platform that combines software and hardware education so well, and I’m happy to recommend it for kids and adults alike.

YouTube – Playlist: What can CrowPo2 do?

Photo credit: Feature image was taken by Christopher Isak for TechAcute. Other images in the body of the article are the property of Elecrow.
Editorial Notice: We received a sample from Elecrow for review and they covered shipping and import tax, but no fees were paid for the review itself.

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