The Raspberry Pi 400 is a keyboard with an internal computer that costs about $100 as a kit that includes a mouse, power cord, micro HDMI to standard HDMI cable, micro SD adapter card, and user guide. This document offers a review of the system relative to the Raspberry Pi 4 computer that costs about $215.
Inside the Raspberry Pi 400 there is a very large flat metal heat dissipation system for passive cooling. This allows the computer to run at optimum performance without throttling down due to thermal issues. The ability to cool without a fan saves power and eliminates operating noise. Most computers would benefit from having a large aluminum heat fin, but the size issue is prohibitive. Being able to utilize the site and layout of the keyboard is a great design innovation.
As mentioned in the introductory summary for this page, the cost of the Raspberry Pi 400 at $100 is a good value considering everything it comes with (mouse, power cord, micro HDMI to standard HDMI cable, micro SD adapter card, and user guide).
Due to high demand and limited availability, the Raspberry Pi 4 is now over $200 without any additional accessories. So, the keyboard design provides a Raspberry Pi experience at a much lower cost.
The included keyboard is very well designed and offers the following features:
- KEY SIZE — Despite being a smaller keyboard, the key size and layout are the same as a full-size keyboard.
- KEY TRAVEL — Key travel is an optimal distance making it easy to type on.
- KEY VISIBILITY — The key labels are very clear and easy to read with a dark gray font on white.
- FUNCTION KEYS — Some small keyboards do not have a full row of function keys. This one has F1 through F10 in the top row with the Fn key providing access to the F11 and F12 as secondary functions of the F1 and F2 keys.
- LAYOUT — The layout of the keys is a familiar and very well designed. Some small keyboards have oversized or undersized Backspace, Shift, or Return keys. Another problem with small keyboards is that the placement of some important keys is not where one would expect. This keyboard does not have these issues and is very easy to use.
- NUMBER KEYPAD — A drawback of many smaller keyboards is the absence of a 10-key number pad for quick entry of numbers in spreadsheets or other situations. This keyboard has a number lock mode that enables a a number pad overlaid on the keyboard. The number pad is labeled with red numbers 1-9 and 0. There is also an asterisk (for multiplication), forward slash (for division), plus symbol, minus symbol, and decimal key making math and formula entry easier. Some of these keys are the same as the standard keys on the keyboard (7, 8, 9, forward slash and period).
- PAGE NAVIGATION — Navigation keys for Page Up, Page Down, Home, or End can be easily operated as secondary functions of the arrow keys by holding the Fn key down. These are useful for word processing, spreadsheets, browsing the web, and other applications.
- POWER — Other Raspberry Pi models use USB C power sources which may or may not have power switches included. With the keyboard model, the power switch is easily operated by holding the Fn key and F10 key to power the computer on. A shutdown request from the operating system will turn off the system. The power light is easily visible on the top right of the keyboard.
- PRINT SCREEN — The keyboard has a PrtScn (print screen) button which can be helpful for capturing screenshots. This is a pleasant surprise because many small keyboards do not have a print screen button.
- SIZE — The keyboard size is of standard compact measurements, about 11.25-inches wide by 4.75 inches deep. The height is about 1/4-inch near the spacebar with an incline up to 1-inch from the desk surface near the top row function keys. This makes the keyboard very portable, allowing it to fit in a small carry bag.
- STATUS LIGHTS — Other Raspberry Pi models have indicator lights, but they are not easily identified or visible. The keyboard design places the power light in the top right next to number lock and caps lock indicator lights.
- SOUND — The keyboard can be used gently to produce less typing noise, or stronger typing can produce slightly louder yet still muted and firm typing sounds.
Having too few ports is a problem with many new laptop computers, and even premium desktop computers like the Apple iMac. These fancy computers can cost thousands of dollars.
The Raspberry Pi 400 has the following ports:
- One standard USB port (USB A)
- Two standard-size high-speed USB 3 ports
- Two micro HDMI ports capable of driving two displays at 4K and 30 Hz or 1920×1080 at 60 Hz.
- One full-size Ethernet port
- One USB-C port is present but used only for powering the system.
- A micro SD card slot is present, but required for the main system drive.
There is also a multi-pin interface controller for customized projects.
- CUSTOMIZATION — Something people enjoy about Raspberry Pi computers is the ability to see and hold the small circuit board design of the traditional models. There are many different cases and enclosures available to fit just about everyone’s personal taste. People wanting to overclock their system can choose a case with powerful active cooling. Some enclosures include an additional circuitboard that provides NVMe drive expansion and other ports. So, the Raspberry Pi has become known as a very versatile and expandable system. The Raspberry Pi 400 is the first model not intended to be opened or expanded upon. People wanting to put a Raspberry Pi unit on a robot or behind a television will probably opt for the smaller Raspberry Pi 4. However, the Raspberry Pi 400 is ideal for those who know they will always be interacting with the device using a keyboard, and find the integrated design handy.
- HEADPHONE JACK — The Raspberry Pi 400 does not have a headphone jack. Listening to audio will require that your HDMI display have speakers built-in, or you may need to use bluetooth speakers or some other audio option like USB adapter to analog audio headphone jack. If you want a headphone jack built-in, then the Raspberry Pi 4 may be a better choice.
- KEYBOARD — If you like the keyboard, then it’s a great choice. However, if you would prefer a larger keyboard layout or a wireless keyboard, then using a Raspberry Pi 4 might be a better choice.
- LIQUID DAMAGE — The system is not weather resistant or water resistant. So, a water spill could damage the internal components. This is similar to the problem that laptop computers have. A Raspberry Pi 4 with separate keyboard connected could be placed in a position where it is less likely to have something spill on it.
- PROJECTS — As described under the Customization topic above, the Raspberry Pi 400 comes with a fixed case not intended to be opened, so this rules out any projects designed for small installation or specialized cases. Because it still offers the 40-pin GPIO (general purpose input/output) interface, the system does meet the needs of those using the Raspberry Pi as a controller for projects.
- USB — The Raspberry Pi 400 has three USB ports, but the Raspberry Pi 4 has four total ports (two are USB 2 and two are fast USB 3). For most people this won’t be a problem, but if you need extra ports and don’t want to use a USB hub, the Raspberry Pi 4 may be a better choice.
An excellent bluetooth keyboard is the Logitech K380 which costs about $30. It can be paired with three different devices, and easily switch between them. It does not have a PrtScn (print screen) button, but otherwise has good functionality. If you plan to carry a multi-device keyboard with you, then you might not need the keyboard configuration of the Raspberry Pi 400. Instead, you could consider carrying a bluetooth keyboard and the Raspberry Pi 4. This would be a similarly small package.