From the Cheapskate: This top-rated kit includes everything you need to build your own tiny PC. Plus: big savings on a CyberLink software bundle!
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
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Between Arduino and Raspberry Pi, there's never been a better time for makers to make stuff powered by mini homemade computers.
For those of you already acquainted with this stuff, allow me to hit the highlights. The kit includes a 900MHz quad-core Raspberry Pi 2 (Model B) with 1GB of RAM, an 8GB microSD card with SD adapter, an HDMI cable and an Edimax Wi-Fi adapter.
Could you buy a barebones Raspberry Pi for less? Yes, but by the time you added in all the extras, you'd be looking at a higher total price. This comes with pretty much everything you need to build a complete, working PC -- including that microSD card, which is bootable and allows you to choose an OS right out of the box.
Indeed, this is a tool for tinkerers. It's for folks who spend their spare time perusing Instructables -- or creating DIY projects of their own.
I can't say I'm part of that crowd, though I certainly love the idea of a taking a tiny, bare-bones PC and turning it into something cool. And this kit has staggeringly high ratings from a staggeringly high number of buyers (nearly 2,000).
Update:Yeesh! Talk about crazy timing. Mere moments after I clicked publish on this, the Raspberry Pi folks took the wraps off Raspberry Pi 3, with a price tag of just $35. That gets you just the circuit board, but anyone serious about this stuff might want to consider going that way instead. For less money you get more horsepower -- including built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Bonus deal: Windows no longer supports DVD playback out of the box, which is a bummer for anyone who still wants to use their PC as a media center. For a limited time, you can get the CyberLink PowerDVD 15 bundle for $47.96 when you apply coupon code CNETPDVD at checkout. That's an additional 20 percent off the already discounted price. The bundle includes not only media player PowerDVD 15, but also media converter MediaEspresso 7 and media-authoring utility Power2Go 10. Combined value: a little over $200.