Let the low-cost computer wars begin. CHIP is storming the Kickstarter charts with its $9 computer. WiFi, Bluetooth, 512MB RAM and a 1Ghz ARM Processor. Did I mention its $9??

Next Thing Co. is behind the project, and it’s the company’s attempt to recapture the success of their $249 Raspberry-Pi based camera (OTTO). Mission accomplished.

The Kickstarter campaign started last Thursday and has ripped past its funding goal. Set at $50,000, the project has eclipsed $700,000 from nearly 14,000 backers. I think it’s safe to say there’s a market for $9 computers.

What Can CHIP Do?

For $9, you’re probably thinking not much. Wrong. It can handle work in LibreOffice, saving files to its onboard 4GB flash storage. Browsing the web? It has built-in WiFi, allowing you to stay attached to your email.

Bluetooth lets you play games, and CHIP comes with dozens of applications and tools installed. With WiFi and Bluetooth, CHIP keeps the USB port free. For those of you with older televisions, it even has a video out.

The primary goal of CHIP is education. It wants you to hack the device. Want to learn to code? It comes preloaded with Scratch, a language that teaches via stories, animations and games.

It runs Linux, so Next Thing Co. wants you to extend the reach of your $9 investment. CHIP has an integrated battery circuit, allowing you to attach a 3.7v LiPo battery and go mobile.

CHIP computer size

Best of all, the project is 100 percent open-source. What does that mean? All the projects files are available to the community. Schematics? Check. Material list? Check.

CHIP Reward Tiers

CHIP offers a variety of reward tiers, but if you’re looking to get this for you or as a gift look at the $49 PocketCHIP.

pocketCHIPI See Your Pi and Raise You a CHIP – A $9 Computer

It makes the computer portable with a 4.3-inch touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard and 5-hour battery life. Oh, and it’s small enough to fit in your back pocket. Here are the complete specs on the $49 PocketCHIP:

  • 3,000 mAH battery
  • 4.3″ 470px x 272px screen w/ resistive touch
  • Full Super-Clicky QWERTY keyboard
  • Rugged Injection Molded Shell
  • Fully open source
  • GPIO breakouts
  • C.H.I.P. is removable via hatch

Ok, you have me sold. Damn you and your retro design. It’s like they know just how to get me.

Like all Kickstarter projects, you want to know when. CHIP will ship this December while PocketCHIP will be May 2016. Next Thing Co. has delivered before with OTTO, so the late ship dates don’t worry me.

Now, can it crush the Raspberry Pi? That remains to be seen. It’s a late entrance, and we are talking 2016 until hackers and makers get their hands on the device.

At $9, it’s beyond compelling. The features alone are eye-popping. Now, let’s get our hands on it and create.

Gear. TV. Movies. Lifestyle. Photography. Yeah, I’m the type who sees a shiny object and is immediately captivated. Wait... There’s another. You can reach me at marcus@newsledge.com

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