This week I finally took the plunge and bought a small wireless keyboard for the Raspberry Pi. The Pi in question is a B+ raspberry pi running at 700MHz and sporting 512MB ram. I’ve got a 32GB Sandisk Class 10 SD card in it and one of the excellent Pibow cases from Pimoroni.
Up until a few weeks ago I’d been using an Apple TV 1 as my main media centre (upgraded with a CrystalHD hardware video decoder & running XBMC) and a Jailbroken ATV2 as my backup. The Apple TV one is great, it’s fast & snappy but it’s a bit of a power hog & can take a while to boot up. Also Crystalbuntu is yet to be upgraded to Kodi as CrystalHD support was removed a few versions back. The ATV2 was great up until XBMC frodo when the hardware limitations started to show. I needed an alternative so I switched to Openelec on the Rapsberry Pi.
I’ve used XBMC on the Pi in the past and it was awful. Random crashes and slow menus, but this was when it was in it’s infancy. Also the major barrier was remote support. I tried installing a gpio IR receiver and using my own remote but it was laggy and not very precise. I also tried using a Flirc receiver but again it wasn’t exactly precise.
This time around I opted for this amazing little keyboard. It has media controls built in at the top, as well as a full qwerty keyboard and a track pad for good measure. It uses a small 2.4GHz USB receiver and contains a rechargeable battery pack & charging cable. This is the ultimate for the raspberry pi. The range is pretty epic & I’ve experienced no lag in menus on the latest version of openelec & Kodi 14.1. What’s more, because it’s not IR I’ve been able to mount the pi out of sight behind the TV. Bonus.
It just works right out of the box, I love that. It’s really responsive & very ergonomic. Also it makes text searches in Kodi a doddle as you can type. No more on screen keyboard.
The keyboard itself is very light & has a rubber coating like old PC gamepads. Battery life seems to be excellent.
I’ve found openelec on the Pi to be very stable. I’ve had it on without a reboot for 2 weeks without any glitches or crashes. I’m also using it with my Edimax 7811un Wifi adaptor and it’s been perfect. Signal is good considering how far away it is from the router & I’ve been able to stream 1080P MKV files without a hitch. No buffering or lag.
The pi has been flawless & I intend to upgrade this Media Centre to a Raspberry Pi 2 just as soon as I can get my hands on one. I’m going to run some power consumption tests but you can be sure it’s minimal. I’ll do a full write up on the Openelec/Raspberry pi experience soon but if you are thinking of going down this route I would definitely recommend the Rii i8 Keyboard. It’s currently on offer over at Amazon for £11.99 with free delivery. It’s an absolute bargain