Enthusiasts Plan Open-Source Raspberry Pi Tablet for 2019

Credit: CutiePiCredit: CutiePi

A team of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts recently announced plans to release an open-source tablet, CutiePi, by the end of the year.

CutiePi's website claims the device will offer "a complete Raspberry Pi in a tablet form factor, minus the trouble of connecting monitor or power supply," for people to experiment with. We could see the CutiePi appealing to Raspberry Pi users curious about the platform's potential in new form factors. Its status as a completely open-source project could also attract the attention of people who dislike proprietary hardware.

The device itself currently includes an 8-inch display in a 209 x 124 x 12mm enclosure its creators said can be 3D-printed. Everything is powered by a "custom designed CM3 Lite carrier board" that (as the name suggests) features a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 Lite. That product is essentially a Raspberry Pi Model 3 with a BCM2837 processor and 1GB RAM in a different form factor that's supposed to allow it to be used for industrial applications.

Relying on the Compute Model 3 Lite might be a bit of a letdown for Raspberry Pi enthusiasts hoping the CutiePi would offer more power. The Raspberry Pi Foundation released the Compute Model 3 Lite in 2017; the better-performing Compute Model 3+ debuted in January. The newer model, which is based on the Raspberry Pi Model 3B+, includes an improved thermal management system over its predecessor, as well as the BCM2837B0 processor.

CutiePi will also include a custom user interface on top of Raspbian made specifically for touchscreen devices. The tablet's creators said they're hoping to augment built-in apps, including a namesake terminal emulator built on top of Qt, with Raspbian PIXEL apps via XWayland. Projects created for the Raspberry Pi should also be relatively easy to port to CutiePi; that's the entire point of building a tablet on top of the existing pastry-evoking platform.

Then there's the handle-kickstand, the "handle-stand." The concept is fairly straightforward: having a handle would make CutiePi easier to transport, and a kickstand would make it easier to use the touchscreen keyboard. (It could also help the CutiePi as an entertainment device, so long as it's weighted in a way that allows it to stand almost vertically.) We'd be lying if we said the feature didn't make CutiePi look like a toy, though.

More information about CutiePi is available on the project's GitHub page. Its creators said they hope to release the device by the end of 2019, and they aren't currently planning to crowdfund the device's launch, but hardware projects can be hard to predict. At least this offers another glimpse at how devices like Raspberry Pi can inspire people to build new things, whether it's silly projects for kids or an open-source tablet with a handle-stand.