I have never used a Raspberry Pi before, but for some time I am thinking about buying one in order to create some mini personal computer out of it. I would use it for playing movies(preferably output to tv), internet browsing and maybe creating some apps of my own.

The main issue here is that I cannot find a small(tablet-size) monitor for this case.

Has anyone else attempted to do such a thing? Can it be done? Any suggestions?

  • You can buy an unbranded Android tablet with SD card slots and HDMI outputs, some even USB ports for about 70~120USD. I seen many variants from CHinavasion (I am not affiliated with them, they just sell good, cheap generic stuff) If you want an adventure or learn about Linux, then the Pi is the way.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 15:25

4 Answers 4


The Pi is still a bit weak to be considered a general purpose PC, at least when comparing it to current PCs running current software.

You can obviously run XBMC on it rather well, so playing movies seems to be no problem.

Internet browsing is still a bit sluggish, mainly due to lacking graphics acceleration and the meager CPU and RAM of the Pi.

There are also some projects for attaching compact HDMI displays to it. For example:

However, when you have one of those screens attached, you won't be able to output to your TV as well. You could use one of the small touch screens as an input device, and output to your TV via HDMI. There are several options for small Pi touch screens, for example:

  • So, to your mind, should I abandon the idea? You said that internet browsing is not a very nice experience, so I imagine that other things(cannot find an example at the moment) will be even more difficult to have. Including multitasking. Anyway, great links.
    – Dragos
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:35
  • I think the Pi is good for playing movies, learning to code. Personally, I use it headless (without display) as a file server (APFS, SMB), music player and AirPlay sink. For those applications, it's great. It is also great for embedded stuff, controlling house automation etc. Current web apps are pretty demanding, and with the lacking graphics acceleration web browsing will not be a lot of fun. A tablet may be a better idea for this.
    – Arne
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:51
  • If you still want to do web browsing and stuff like that, a bigger single board PC might be more interesting, like the Cubieboard3: store.r0ck.me/collections/home-slide/products/…
    – Arne
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:54
  • @CraigMcQueen Here you go...
    – Arne
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 5:29
  • Thanks a lot! Based on your opinions, I will probably go with a tablet first and upon further needs buy the Pi or something similar.
    – Dragos
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 9:12

Based on my experience, you are right that it may be hard to find a mini monitor (tablet-size) - there is no real market for it. You may find older 15-inch monitors on Ebay or CL but again they have VGA input you would also need a D-to-A signal converter/adapter.

In my opinion, it might be cheaper to use a smalls-sized HDMI TV. But again, I am not sure if portability is an issue for you.

  • Portability IS an issue, actually(forgot to mention it). I would like to have some kind of very portable computer.
    – Dragos
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:33

If you really want to make it a deskop replacement I would personally go for a ODROID, that thing packs more power and still is not large or draws a lot of power (also not too expensive either). If your a nerd I warn you to not click on the other links on the site; they offer a range of other options like the ODROID-XU+E that packs a ridiculous amount of power, extremely small and affordable (though way more expensive than the ODROID community edition).

If you require other options (ARM and/or low power based), ask me for more links.

Update (2017-03-10): Current Raspberry PI 3 is a very nice SMB and very suitable as desktop (using Pixel). Lots of new competitors as well. I have a PINE64 (with 2GB RAM) but use it as server but would also be great as desktop.

  • Thank you for the link. It seems to be a very good deal, but a display still seems hard to find and with that it becomes a pretty expensive acquisition. So I will probably buy a tablet, since it seems to fit my needs for now, but surely I will keep the ODROID option in mind. Thanks a lot for your help!
    – Dragos
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 9:14
  • Monitors are not that expensive; 14" for 50$
    – Ivo Limmen
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 9:30

If you really want small desktop, Raspberry PI might not be good solution.

You can probably find much better stuff on eBay for just a little more money, like AMD e350 motherboards with embedded CPU/GPU.

Raspberry PI is just for different use cases. Just my 2 cents.

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