I needed a compact computer setup for my cramped electronics workbench. The SunFounder 10.1 inch display is both space- and cost-efficient. Instead of using molded parts for the case, SunFounder uses laser cut acrylic sheets, presumably to keep the cost of production down. A Raspberry Pi computer can be mounted behind the screen.
Although it has a few minor quirks, the SunFounder screen represents a great value. Recent price on Amazon was $110.99. Add a $25 RasPi, keyboard and mouse and you’ve got a very capable little one-piece computer for under $150.
What I like about this display:
- 1280 X 800 pixel resolution is more than adequate for running a browser or a few terminal sessions
- As claimed, the IPS LCD screen has a very wide viewing angle. I also found the color saturation and contrast to be excellent
- Built-in speaker
- It has VGA and composite inputs in addition to HDMI
And a few deficiencies:
- The monitor arrived with several loose screws. Seems whoever assembled my unit didn’t have a screwdriver that day
- I needed to dremel one of the acrylic plates that holds the RasPi in place to make it fit properly
- An onboard source of power for the RasPi would be welcomed. I suspect that a 5V connector that taps internal power could be added for less than the IR remote control that comes with the display. What possible use is a remote anyway? I can’t envision ever being more than arm’s length away for a screen that’s only 10 inches wide.
- Out of the box, I was getting no sound from the display. The printed instructions that came with the it said to run raspi-config and choose the option to force audio out through HDMI. But that did not work because the computer was detecting the SunFounder screen’s interface as DVI, which is not audio capable. The solution was to add the line hdmi_drive=2 in config.txt to force HDMI mode.
These minor nits aside, for the price of a cheap Chromebook, the combination of the Raspberry Pi and SunFounder display provide several features that are useful on my workbench and would not be available on other similarly priced platforms like a built-in serial port, gpio pins and the ability to display HDMI, VGA or composite video.
Next project, a perfect companion for this setup: let’s dust off an Apple Newton keyboard and add USB connectivity to it.