First and foremost, it's quite small. This may seem obvious from previous photographs and the published dimensions, but actually holding all that power in your hand, on such a small board, is still an oddly thrilling experience. It's silly, really, since, say, my SII has a smaller board and is even faster, but that's a smartphone; the Pi is a computer.
The Pi is remarkably easy to use, actually - all you need to do is hook it up to a micro-USB charger (my SII's charger did the trick at 5V-700Ma), plug in your USB keyboard and mouse, and connect it to a display via HDMI (I used a HDMI-DVI cable). It has no power button; plugging it in the mains turns it on. an important prerequisite: you need to have an SD card with an operating system image inserted into the Raspberry Pi before turning it on, since it has no internal storage built-in.
I opted for the Debian image, and here it becomes clear that if you buy a Raspberry Pi today, you're an early adopter. The software is clearly not yet geared towards the average user, and you have to login using text login, followed by a
startx command to load Lxde. X itself is not yet hardware-accelerated, so redraw is slow, and due to the lack of optimisation overall, it's quite sluggish. This is not a complaint by any means - it's a logical consequence of buying into the Pi at this relatively early stage.
Still, I came away impressed. X and Lxde were slow, but everything seemed to work just fine, and that alone turned a big smile on my face. There's also an Arch image, which I want to test later on. None of this, however, is my goal. I bought my Pi for an entirely different reason.
This Pi will be used run the last of what I've been calling The Elusive Three: AmigaOS4, MorphOS, and RISC OS. These three all require special, custom hardware, making them more difficult to obtain; still, I vowed to get my hands on all three. In 2009, it was AmigaOS4's turn to shine in an extensive review; MorphOS followed a few months later. RISC OS, definitely the most elusive of The Elusive Three, remained elusive.
Until now. I'm this close. RISC OS is coming to the Raspberry Pi, and as such, this was the main reason for me to buy the Pi. This little board will finally make OSNews whole, and it will mean the end of a quest I embarked on when I joined OSNews back in 2005: review The Elusive Three. Of course, the world - and OSNews with it - has changed considerably since I started this quest, but I still do whatever's in my power to respect the OS in OSNews. Assuming the RISC OS Raspberry Pi port ever becomes functional enough, we will have a RISC OS review on OSNews.
On a related note, more good news: The Unicorn Two, webOS and the Nokia N9, will most likely also be addressed in the coming months. My brother has bought an N9, and I'm sure we can work something out there. Today I also received an email which might end in finally getting a webOS review on OSNews.
Good times ahead.