Kano, the Kickstarter blockbuster that raised $1.52 million to teach children how to build computers and learn how to code, is now available for $150, and backers who got first dibs on the cheery orange computer kits have been having a blast so far.
Adults of any age can get their own Kano kits, but these are squarely targeted at kids six to 15 years old, which includes everything they need to assemble their own DIY computers, that is, everything except a computer monitor. For $150 a pop, children get their own Raspberry Pi Model B computer board, a lightweight but powerful computer that has been used to create all sorts of computer contraptions, from Bitcoin miners to automated coffee makers.
Also included in the kit is a wireless keyboard with its own trackpad, a Wi-Fi adapter, a tinny but nonetheless decent speaker, a power cable, an 8GB SD card that comes pre-loaded with Kano OS, a transparent case for the computer as big as a crayon box and a bright yellow HDMI cable to connect the entire thing to an HDMI-enabled monitor. The kit also includes two booklets with kid-friendly illustrated instructions for putting the computer together.
Re/code's Walt Mossberg says assembling the computer is a snap - literally. It took him 15 minutes to put the Raspberry Pi board into the plastic case, then add other parts such as the Wi-Fi adapter, the wireless connector for the keyboard and the speaker. Afterwards, kids can insert the SD card that contains Kano software and can then plug the computer into the power outlet and link it to the monitor.
Kids can also do most things they can do on a full-fledged computer, including browse the Internet, watch YouTube videos and send an email. Kano doesn't run on Windows or Mac OS but on Linux, which means the open-source nature of the operating system allows children to upload their own projects on the Internet and download other people's projects to work on. For the really advanced types, they can even move on to building their own projects on Kano, from wireless servers to even a radio station.
Kano is available from its website for $149.99 and is currently shipping to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe. The website says Kano will also come to Japan, Brazil and Israel "soon."