Banana Pro Review

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So the Banana Pro arrived today. I have been reviewing Banana Pis left, right, and center lately. This Banana Pro is the successor to the Banana Pi, similar to the Banana Pi M2 but not quite the same because it is by the folks at Lemaker.. the other developers of the Banana Pi.

I am not quite sure what happened, but when I reviewed the first Banana Pi I believe they were the same company or were working together but at some point they forked their project (it is open source after all). The new boards from each company are actually quite different and will be useful for different projects.

Hardware

The hardware is beefed up since the Banana Pi. The processor is still the same dual core and there is  still a gig of ram but there are some additions which make the board very worth it. The differences between the Banana Pi M2 and the Pro are bascially brought down to:

  1. The CPU
  2. Formfactor
  3. USB
  4. Power supply

My biggest complaint with the Banana Pi M2 is the power supply is no longer USB. The Pro has a USB power supply just like every other Pi. The processor isn’t quite as good as the M2’s quad core but it makes up for that with the SATA port that was left on the board. The Banana Pro also features onboard WiFi with is easily my favorite feature between the M2 and the Pro. This board also features 2 USB ports, which is the same as the original, and 2 less than the M2.

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Hardware Specification of Banana ProTM

Soc Allwinner® A20(sun 7i)
CPU ARM® Cortex™-A7 Dual-Core1GHz (ARM v7 instruction set)
GPU Mali400MP2 Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1 (hardware acceleration support)
SDRAM 1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
Power 5V @ 2A via MicroUSB (DC in Only) and/or MicroUSB (OTG)
PMU AXP209

Features

Low-level perpherials 40 Pins Header,28×GPIO, some of which can be used for specific functions including UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF, LRADC, ADC, LINE-IN,FM-IN,HP-IN.
On board Network 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet (Realtek RTL8211E/D)
Wifi Module WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth Optional
On board Storage MicroSD (TF) card,SATA 2.0
Display Supports multi-channel HD display:HDMI 1.4 (Type A – full)LVDS/RGB/CPU display interface (DSI) for raw LCD panelsComposite video (PAL and NTSC) (via 3.5 mm TRRS jack shared with audio out)11 HDMI resolutions from 640×480 to 1920×1080 plus various PAL and NTSC standards
Video HD H.264 2160p video decodingMutil-format FHD video decoding, including Mpeg1/2, Mpeg4, H.263, H.264, etc H.264 high profile [email protected] or [email protected] encoding
Audio outputs HDMI,analog audio (via 3.5 mm TRRS jack shared with composite video out),I2S audio (also potentially for audio input)
Camera Parallel 8-bit camera interface
Audio input On board micphone
USB 2 USB 2.0 host, 1 USB 2.0 OTG (all direct from A20 chip)
Buttons Reset buttonPower buttonU-boot button
Leds Power status led (red)User defined led1 (green)User defined led2 (blue)
Other IR reciever

Interface definition

Sizes 92 mm × 60mm
Weight 45g

Software

Software wise there is a lot to choose from. So far the images for the original Banana Pi have all worked for the Pro, which is awesome. You can choose from quite a few on the downloads page but some are:

  • Raspbian
  • Bananian
  • Android
  • Lubuntu
  • OpenWRT

Basically everything you can expect from the original Banana Pi but with the built in goodies like Wifi. The Software works find and it quite a bit faster than something like the Raspberry Pi B+.

Community

The community is still growing. The Banana Pro community is located over on the forums. There are actually 2 communities and I talked about the M2 community in it’s review. There is a lot of interesting development coming out of each of these communities and it is going to be awesome to see what happens as they grow.

You can already get support for the boards, projects, and your ideas over on the forums.

Final Thoughts

Over all this board is good. I do miss the quad core the M2 has, but I like that it retains the SATA port. This would make a good wireless server or 3D print server for my Printrbot. I think the board is well made and I was blown away when I saw it came with an instruction booklet, something I have never received with one of these single board computers.

Gallery

Here are some pics I took for you of the Banana Pro.