Quick Review: Kano’s Raspberry Pi 2 computer kit shines as a learning tool for kids and DIYers alike


We first covered Kano back in the fall of the last year, detailing its rise from a Kickstarter campaign to a fully funded success story. Now, we’ve had the opportunity to spend a few months with the Raspberry Pi do-it-yourself computer kit. It has a simple design with young computer scientists in mind. By coloring all of the included peripherals, Kano has created a unique yet fun learning experience for children and adults alike.

Kano comes in a brightly colored orange box that slides open to reveal all of the necessary gadgetry to get started on your journey. Each piece is uniquely colored to standout from other peripherals so that the building process is easier. The instructions start off by introducing a cartoon character named Judoka that will serve as a companion as you or your child builds the system.

A Bluetooth keyboard/trackpad, HDMI cable, power cable, SD card, speaker, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Dongle, the Raspberry Pi 2 module and a custom case make up the kit. By including the recently released Pi 2, Kano users get an upgraded microcomputer with a 900MHz Quad-Core processor and 1GB of RAM.

The designers behind Kano have done a great job of showing how the computer is built. This is key for children who may not be able to read well, still enabling them to complete the project. After putting the case, speaker and other add-ons together, it’s time to connect Kano to a display. With support for either RCA or HDMI, Kano can pair up with most displays found in homes today.

After powering the system up for the first time, an animated terminal walks you through the setup process. First, you’ll provide some details about yourself and other key information like Wi-Fi credentials. From there, it’s time to hop over to book two to get started coding.

Snake on Kano OS

This is where Kano really shines with a nice mix of old school and current titles. Simple games like Snake and Pong are easy for kids to program and play, while more complex apps like Minecraft and others provide a greater challenge. It can also be setup for web browsing and other simple tasks as well.

Minecraft on Kano OS

All told, Kano has built a quality system that leverages the power of Raspberry into a unique educational experience for children. Our only complaint is that the price tag is a bit steep at $149.99, particularly in comparison to some Chromebook options on the market are able to offer in terms of computing power. It all comes down to what you’re hoping to accomplish. If you’re familiar with Raspberry Pi or more technically inclined, you can save some money by piecing the system together individually and downloading Kano’s software, which is now available for free.

To get started you’ll need a Raspberry Pi computer, a case and the necessary peripherals. We recommend checking out a kit that includes all the pieces needed in one bundle. You’ll want to make sure you have a compatible display, grabbing one with HDMI inputs is your best bet.

No matter how you go about it, we’re impressed with Kano has to offer children and adults alike. It’s a true Kickstarter success story that is worth checking out.

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