MIPS Creator CI20 running Android

Is the MIPS Creator CI20 an Android alternative to the Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi mini computer provides the option of running a number of different operating systems, for a relatively low price. Yet support for Android has been somewhat limited on the development board, although an alternative called the MIPS Creator CI20 is designed to make better use of the mobile OS.

Platforms such as RISC OS, Linux and XBMC are relatively well supported on the Raspberry Pi. Whilst it is also possible to run Android on the single-board computer, Google’s mobile OS has gained only a limited following amongst Raspberry Pi enthusiasts.

Android is not a particularly attractive choice of OS when compared to options such Raspbian (a version of Debian Linux customised specifically for Raspberry Pi hardware). It could be argued that as the Raspberry Pi’s specs are significantly lower than those of a modern smartphone, the single-board computer is not especially well suited to running Android.

Perhaps, then, it is of little surprise that there has not been masses of people learning to develop Android apps, or creating a plethora of Android-based DIY projects, using the Raspberry Pi.

The specs of the MIPS Creator CI20 are much higher than those of the Raspberry Pi. Its developers – the British company Imagination Technologies – has made it clear that the new microcomputer has been designed to run either Android or Linux.

Not only should the MIPS Creator CI20 deliver better performance than the Raspberry Pi, it will also offer more connectivity options as standard. Technologies such as wi-fi and Bluetooth are supported by the MIPS Creator CI20, whereas additional components have to be purchased in order to use such features on the Raspberry Pi.

With better-spec hardware inevitably comes a higher price. Whilst the current model Raspberry Pi B+ is selling on Amazon.co.uk for £24.60 (approximately €31 or $38), the MIPS Creator CI20 will cost significantly more.

The new single-board computer will be available from the end of January, although it is possible to pre-order the board directly from Imagination Technologies. The MIPS Creator CI20 has been priced at £50 (plus £5 postage and packing) in the United Kingdom and $65 (plus $10 postage and packing) in the United States.

Pricing has only been set in pounds sterling and US dollars right now, although it is still possible to pre-order from 27 additional European countries (albeit with higher postage costs) and Canada.

At current conversion rates, the MIPS Creator CI20 will cost approximately €63 (plus €14 postage and packing) in Europe and around CAD 74 (plus CAD 11 postage and packing) in Canada. Imagination Technologies has also confirmed that it will be possible to order the single-board computer from other countries at a later date.

Of course, it is easily possible to purchase a low-end Android smartphone for the price of a MIPS Creator CI20. A single-board computer is likely to offer considerably greater flexibility, though, so the Creator CI20 may still prove to be popular with developers and general computer enthusiasts.