21 Bitcoin Computer Review

The 21 Bitcoin computer is a highly anticipated product from the 21 Inc. startup. It features native support for the bitcoin protocol along with a nice library to help you develop and deploy bitcoin apps easily. For a tutorial on how to get setup and documentation of all the libraries visit 21 Inc’s website.

The 21 Bitcoin computer comes with everything you need in order to start mining bitcoin and developing apps. It comes with a standard AC adapter, a USB device cable, a 128g Micro SD card, and a wireless WiFi adapter. You can connect your 21 Bitcoin computer to your desktop through the provided USB cable, or alternatively you can use an HDMI cable and run the 21 Bitcoin computer as a standalone Linux box.

Here is a video unboxing the 21 bitcoin computer:

The retail price on the unit is $399, which you can purchase from amazon. On reddit, some users have claimed that the 21 Bitcoin computer is overpriced and the same features can be replicated using a simple $35 Raspberry Pi. However, many features such as Bittransfers between 21 users would not work along with any new updates which will be deployed by 21. Here is a statement from the CEO:

If you don’t install the 21 update (and you can’t if you’re off-device), then most functionality in the old 21 client will be disabled — including anything that contacts the server side, including 21 status and so on. You also won’t be able to join the 21 Network to do peer-to-peer transactions or publish to the 21 Marketplace when that functionality is released without a 21 Bitcoin Computer as those will be doing the same checks.

Since the 21 Bitcoin computer is simply a Raspberry Pi 2.0 with an ASIC chip, an interesting argument arises. If no special hardware is really needed in order to run the 21 software, should the company have sold the software package instead? This way 21 Inc could have saved both on the cost of hardware and reduced their overhead. Maybe in the future 21 Inc might create software packages in addition to their 21 Bitcoin computers. If you have some cash to spare and you are a bitcoin enthusiast then the 21 Bitcoin computer is a great investment. The price is definitely higher than it should be for such a simple piece of hardware, but for aspiring developers, the ease with which you can develop seamless bitcoin webapps is well worth the markup.

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