REVIEW: reTerminal

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

At first glance, reTerminal ( £144 / $195) is a sort of small Raspberry Pi tablet computer with an interesting selection of physical buttons and labelled lights. That’s what we were fooled into thinking when it landed on the desk, but in actuality it’s more of a system display screen, or indeed a terminal much like the name implies. The design that first seemed a little different now makes complete sense, and makes it an even more interesting prospect due to these added features.

When we say small, we mean small – it’s 140 mm wide and 95 mm high, putting it in the lower end of the size range for a Raspberry Pi attached to a touchscreen. It’s a little bit thick though at 21 mm. However, this is not all because of the internal components – it’s not a full Raspberry Pi inside, but a special PCB with a Compute Module 4 installed, giving it the kind of power you would normally see in a Raspberry Pi 4. This makes it much slimmer than what you’d get if it was sitting on a Raspberry Pi 4.

The construction feels solid though, with a tough plastic case that includes plenty of ways to mount itself on walls, and brackets on both the rear and sides of the case, and even includes a standard camera tripod thread on the bottom of the case.

Practically minded

The buttons on the front of the case are fully programmable, as well as the STA- and USR-labelled LEDs. Seeed gives some simple instructions on how to program them on their website, as well as simple guides on building graphical interfaces with the touchscreen.

Each side of the machine is used for some of the standard Raspberry Pi connections such as an Ethernet port, a HDMI port, and two USB 2.0. It also includes a full 40-pin GPIO in the same arrangement as any Raspberry Pi since the Raspberry Pi B+ redesign. As well as any extra components you can connect, it will also support standard HATs and an expansion system to add further functionality.

As this is a kind of display that is not built to be portable, it does lack a battery. It’s powered by a USB C cable, which could easily be built into wherever it’s installed, but also means it can make use of a standard mobile phone charger with a decent amp output. It’s not a negative, but it is something that we initially assumed it came with.

Full power

As you’d expect from hardware running on Raspberry Pi 4 chips, it runs extremely well. The touchscreen is responsive even when running the full OS, and the 1080 × 720 screen is high enough resolution that it doesn’t feel too awkward navigating the desktop and such. We’ve already got a few projects in mind that we want to use it for in a more permanent place, which is always a good thing after a review.

Verdict

10/10

Smaller than expected but a very cool, solid device for monitoring or controlling larger systems.

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