The RasPad is a series of Raspberry Pi-based tablets from the electronics manufacturer Sunfounder. It features a touchscreen and custom PCB inside that routes ports from the Pi to the side of the tablet case.
This isn't our first experience with the RasPad. We had the opportunity to check out the previous edition and even published a RasPad V1 review if you want to see how much this new model has changed in comparison.
Sunfounder is known for creating microelectronics kits and accessories—many geared towards both students and hobbyists. Some examples include the PiCar-V V2.0 Kit and the 13.3" IPS Raspberry Pi Monitor.
The RasPad 3 comes with almost everything you need to get started. You need to provide your own Raspberry Pi 4, and it doesn't come with a GPIO extension cable. Inside the box you'll find:
- 1 RasPad Tablet
- 1 Accel SHIM Module
- 3 Heat Sinks
- 1 Micro SD Card Extension Board
- 1 Fan
- 1 FFC Cable
- 1 Screwdriver
- 1 USB Cable
- 1 Ethernet Cable
- 1 Micro HDMI Cable
- 1 Type C Cable
- 1 Power Cable / Adapter
- 1 Micro HDMI Cable
Most of these smaller components are used to extend the ports of the Pi 4 to the PCB inside.
Here's a quick table of specs to get an idea of what you're getting at a glance.
|Board||Raspberry Pi 4|
|Display||1280 x 800 IPS|
|Port Access||HDMI, USB x 3, Ethernet, Micro SD, 3.5mm, CSI, optional GPIO|
|Audio||Stereo Speaker, 3.5mm Jack|
|Buttons||Power, Brightness, Volume|
|Battery Life||3 - 5 Hours|
One of the first things you'll notice about the RasPad 3 is the shape of the case. The case is thick on one side to allow space for the Raspberry Pi 4. The team uses this as a design element to prop the screen at an angle. This also makes it possible to stand the tablet upright. All of the ports are accessible on either side and can't be blocked when placing the tablet in either configuration.
There are power, volume, and brightness buttons on the side along with power status LED indicators. The display is a 10-point IPS touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 x 800.
When the device is fully assembled, the Pi is tucked away inside which hides the GPIO pins. You can access them by using a GPIO extension cable. There is a slot that can be used to route the cable outside of the tablet, making it possible to tinker with projects.
You don't need any additional hardware to get audio support on the RasPad 3. This edition features a built-in stereo speaker. You can also take advantage of the 3.5mm audio jack to use headphones or a gaming headset (but only for listening to audio, not receiving mic input).
Assembling the RasPad 3 is easy, but definitely more involved than I expected. The package includes several extension cables that are used to connect the Pi to the PCB inside the tablet. This PCB not only extends the Raspberry Pi 4 ports to the edge of the RasPad but also connects it to the touch screen, speaker, and external buttons.
The RasPad 3 comes with an instruction booklet that guides you through connecting each component in a specific order. It's easy to follow and just takes a few minutes to complete.
The RasPad 3 can be powered using the included power adapter or operate wirelessly using the built-in battery pack.
Under ideal conditions, the battery can last up to five hours. Under normal use, you're looking at three hours.
According to documentation from the Sunfounder website as well as in the booklet included with the RasPad 3, the tablet is designed with both students and hobbyists in mind. There is a significant amount of learning-based software and projects available for anyone new or experienced with the Raspberry Pi.
Because of this gap, the tablet is very easy to operate. The power button on the side is used to turn the device on and off. The touch screen works automatically upon assembly and can be used to navigate the RasPad OS which is essentially a custom skin of Raspberry Pi OS.
You can use the start menu to access pre-loaded software, tools, and games or add your own applications via Terminal like usual on the Raspberry Pi.
The RasPad 3 comes with a MicroSD card pre-loaded with the RasPad OS. Because this is just a Raspberry Pi OS re-skin, you can update it the same way through Terminal.
You can also use the command line to add any application you normally could on a Pi 4 but the RasPas 3 comes loaded with so much software, you may find yourself a little distracted by some of the fun tools and programs.
The applications are accessible from the start menu and broken into categories: Programming, Education, Office, Internet, Sound & Video, Graphics, Games, and Accessories.
Some of these categories just have one or two options. For example, the Office section is mainly reserved for the Libre Office suite. But other sections, like Programming and Education, have tons of applications including Scratch 3, Sense Hat Emulator, Mathematica, and Sonic Pi for making music.
We know what you're thinking--but can you play games on it?!
Of course! The RasPad comes with a huge selection of games. If you thought this was a learning device, you're still right. You can play games and learn on the RasPad 3.
But if you just want to play games, that's also an option. Because it's built on top of Raspberry Pi OS, it comes with Minecraft Pi Edition. There are other games, including Boing, Bunner, Cavern, and Soccer. You can also browse through a selection of Python games in the Python Games application.
Using an application called Stressberry, we put the RasPad 3 to the test. We wanted to get an idea of the thermal profile for the RasPad 3 to see how hot it gets when the performance demand is high.
Check out this chart to see how well it stacks up when put under a little pressure. The orange represents the amount of processing CPU is undergoing while the blue is the corresponding temperature from the RasPad 3.
If you compare that to a similar stress test run on other Raspberry Pi cases, then you can see that the RasPad 3 does run hotter than other cases (and nearly as hot as having no case at all). So there's a slight concern about how long the RasPad 3 will last over time.
After experimenting with the RasPad 3 for a few weeks, I've determined that it's a lot more useful than it looks at first glance. The bulky case is actually quite convenient for tabletop projects. This isn't thin like a normal tablet, but it isn't supposed to be. It's a Raspberry Pi tablet and it hits all the markers you could want: a touch screen interface, GPIO access, and safe shutdown buttons.
It's easy to use and definitely ideal for learning environments where new Pi makers are still getting a feel for the territory. But it's also clean and polished, well-suited for experienced makers who want a nice device to play with or pros who want to create a permanent kiosk display.
The RasPad 3 costs around $200. The screen alone is worth the investment and the final product makes for a well-polished Raspberry Pi experience.
If you want a nice, hands-on device for students or an easy-to-set-up kiosk, the RasPad 3 is worth taking a serious look at.
The RasPad 3 brought more to the table than I expected—both literally and figuratively. While the bulkiness of the case initially caught me off guard, it quickly warmed up as a suitable design feature that made perfect sense when looking at the device from the eyes of a maker. It's proved to be a quality Raspberry Pi device with reliable performance and plenty of potential.
If you want a quality touchscreen home for your Raspberry Pi 4, check out the RasPad 3 on Amazon.
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