CrowPi2 Review : STEM education, Minecraft, and Raspberry Pi in a box

Chris Burns - Sep 24, 2020, 2:38pm CDT
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CrowPi2 Review : STEM education, Minecraft, and Raspberry Pi in a box
Editors' Rating: 7/10
Pros
  • Friendly, easy to use software
  • Easy to get started
  • Educational for coding and IT
  • Includes an abundance of components
Cons
  • Not particularly mobile
  • Cost not for absolute beginners
  • Mediocre keyboard, mouse, fan

So you’ve got a kid who wants to learn how computers work. Or you’re an individual that likes to fiddle around with electronics and want to make it count with a kit that’ll teach you what all the plugging and playing means. That’s what this device delivers. That’s what CrowPi2 was made for – discovering not only how computer parts fit together and function, but how computer code makes the whole thing run.

Up front it’s important to note that this is not just a cheap laptop. It certainly looks like a laptop, but that’s not why this amalgamation of elements exists. You’ll get computer components, instructions, and a whole bunch of tutorials to get started and continue learning. And it all runs on Raspberry Pi 4b!

Software experience

In the mix is a fully operational and surprisingly usable iteration of Raspberry Pi OS. In this customized UI, you’ll have access to 16 Scratch tutorials, 32 lessons in Puthon, and some very interesting Minecraft action.

Above you’ll see how you’re able to use the CrowPi2’s included papercraft elements to interact with Minecraft with NFC.

Again, you may need to remind yourself or your child more than once that this isn’t meant to be a top-notch Minecraft gaming experience – it’s a learning experience. The object isn’t to play Minecraft, but to learn how and why certain components work with others, how code works, and how physical interaction with hardware tied with software development can increase one’s understanding of the whole package.

Above you’ll see another example of how the CrowPi2 is able to become more than just a standard laptop. This is a device like no other.

It’s clear in the software that the aim of the people who made CrowPi2 was to put their heart into a machine that doesn’t just do what it promised. The experience, especially the software, is friendly and usable – a rarity when it comes to educational software out in the world today. The tide may be turning!

Hardware components

The components aren’t going to shock and delight your average custom PC builder. There’s no internal battery – you need to remain plugged in to a power source to work and play.

The laptop wasn’t meant for much travel – and certainly shouldn’t be sitting in your backpack on its own. Open air sections, plugs that must remain sticking out from the side, and a keyboard that leaves something to be desired in several respects should be considered if you’re looking for a device that’s made with the best of the best parts – this definitely is not.

You’ll need to purchase a single AA battery and have a single micro-USB cable on hand when you first open the box with CrowPi2. Given the sheer abundance of parts in the kit in the first place, it might come as a shock that these two simple bits aren’t included by default.

Wrap-up

The CrowPi2 is made for learning. It’s made for tinkering and experimentation. It has more planned activities and learning experiences all planned out and set for the user than the user could ever realistically want to complete.

If you get frustrated easily when electronics don’t work right the first time you turn them on, this is not a package you should buy. If you’ve got the time to tinker and the will to learn, this package is a dream. You’ll find this device and its components through a Kickstarter hosted by Elecrow, with a price on the Elecrow site starting at around $269 USD.


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