The 21.co "computer" certainly deserves a place in the VC world, along with the other products consisting of wild promises and inane use cases. For the price of 4 Raspberry Pi computer kits, you get the following:
A Raspberry Pi. You can do a lot with this. One thing you can't do, however, is reliably run a Bitcoin node: the single gigabyte of RAM gets crowded with the bitcoin memory pool (normally up to 100 megabytes, or more when a "stress test" is taking place).
A 128 GB micro-SD card. Used to store the block chain, which is about 32 gigabytes in size right now, and growing at about 144 megabytes per day. Unfortunately, the copy of the block chain 21 Inc. includes is obsolete the second they ship the product, so you have to wait a few hours for the block chain to synchronize. This uses those valuable limited write cycles you have on your SD card.
(If you have a remote desire to develop applications that use bitcoin, stop here. Go through that list and buy just those items above. You don't need anything else. If you're looking for comedy, or if you're a sucker with too much money, read on...)
Is that all I get for my money?
Those products alone don't allow you to make Bitcoin applications, apparently. You need these things, too:
An ASIC chip and a giant fan. Bitcoin mining hardware has a propensity for running hot, so you need a fan. Unfortunately, the Raspberry Pi can't power those two items. The Pi uses a standard 5 volt mini-USB connector for power, and draws at most 2 amps. The fan alone uses three times the maximum current that the Raspberry Pi can handle. Also, a tiny fan like this emits lots of noise, so you may want to include some earplugs in your Amazon.com shopping cart. Free up another outlet for you to use, because there are two power supplies!
It's difficult to justify developing a $400 computer that can't do much. So, to entice some customers, 21 Inc. included demos that try really hard to make customers feel inspired. Here are just a few things that 21 Inc. claims were totally impossible before their product existed:
Web proxies, but with bitcoin! Gone are the days where you would pay a small fee (normally, no more than $9 per month) to access a wide array of private proxies. Now you can build your own service where you charge customers 1 cent per request to use a single public proxy. If that doesn't seem absurd yet, consider the following: loading this page probably used 60 requests for images, fonts, and various code to make the page work.
Online SMS gateways, but with bitcoin! Don't pay your phone company fifteen cents to send a single short message, and definitely don't pay a monthly fee to send unlimited messages! Be your own phone company and lure people into using your gateway. Granted, developers can use the same third-party messaging API for free, but that isn't the bitcoin way. Also, you may want to make sure you're legally a company and not an individual, just in case people want to use your message service for sending death threats to those who defame Satoshi and a few three-letter agencies charge you as being responsible.
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