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Raspberry Pi gets an official ​7-inch touchscreen

The cheap micro-computer now has a touchscreen to build a basic tablet or control your Pi-powered creations.

The new 7-inch touchscreen for the Raspberry Pi mini-computer. Raspberry Pi

How touching: the cheap-as-chips Raspberry Pi mini-computer now has an official 7-inch touchscreen for building a basic tablet or control panel.

The touchscreen comes from element14, the British company behind Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi micro-computer brain is designed to be plugged into other components to custom-build everything from computers to media servers to smart home devices. It's aimed at enthusiasts and newcomers to building computers and electronic equipment, and it also helps kids learn about coding and hardware.

The Raspberry Pi can be attached to the back of the touchscreen to create a basic tablet, and both will run off one USB power source.

The touchscreen measures 194 by 110 by 20mm. It's only 800x480 pixels, so it's better suited to displaying controls than actually watching content. For that, you're better off linking your Raspberry Pi media centre to a TV or monitor using the built-in HDMI connection. Since the touchscreen doesn't take up the HDMI port, you can have the low-resolution controller screen and a high-resolution display running at the same time.

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The screen will be integrated into the latest Raspbian OS and will work without a keyboard or mouse. It supports 10-finger touch and has an onscreen keyboard. The Pi system's educational software can already read touch input, but you can also develop your own apps and devices for reading touch.

The screen connects to the Pi's DSI display connector through an adapter board that handles power and signal conversion. It's compatible with the Raspberry Pi 2 , which was released in January this year and runs a special version of Windows 10, and with the original Raspberry Pi models A+ and B+. It can work with the original A and B models too, but the mounting fixtures are designed for the + models. For more details and how to install the simple Kivy interface, check out the Raspberry Pi blog.

The touchscreen costs £42 in the UK or $60 plus local taxes and shipping in the US. There's no news of an Australian release yet, but the price roughly converts to AU$90. It's on sale from Farnell element14 and CPC in UK and Europe, or from the Swag Store, at RS Components/Allied Electronics and at Premier Farnell/Newark in North America.