VIA has just thrown its hat into the arena where the Raspberry Pi currently dominates, with its “APC”. But there’s a twist here. While RPi allows you to install multiple ARM-based OSes, VIA’s APC comes pre-bundled with Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”. The press release doesn’t state whether or not Android can be replaced with another OS, but we hope to learn that soon.
Compared to the Model B Raspberry Pi, which retails for about $35, VIA’s APC beefs up the CPU ever-so-slightly (800MHz WonderMedia ARM 11 SoC) and doubles the RAM, from 256MB to 512MB. It also comes pre-equipped with 2GB of NAND flash and contains a microSD slot for expansion. Also boosted is the number of USB 2.0 ports, from 2 to 4. Lastly, another bonus is that it includes a 15W power adapter, while the RPi requires you to purchase one after-the-fact. One benefit the RPi has, however, is that it’s smaller.
Depending on your goals, the RPi might still be the more appealing of the two, unless Android works for whatever you’re seeking out to do. For hobbyists, being stuck with Android (if it can in fact not be removed) might not be ideal – especially given that it’s an outdated version.
The press release also doesn’t give much information in way of performance, but the APC should be able to handle all that the RPi can, and then some, given the CPU frequency boost (both are based on ARM 11). Are all of these bonuses worth the $35 > $50 price move? Time will tell, but with RPis becoming notorious for being on back-order, VIA might be releasing this at just the right time.