The true test is cost-effectiveness. It compares well to the Beagleboard device given the similar open-sourced nature and form factor, but it cannot compete in terms of price with the lilkes of Raspberry Pi.
I accept and agree paying 10$ more is worth for BBB as compared to features it is offering at the same time being on open source platform is an added advantage. I have not come across XBMC. Thanks for sharing a nice media platform, that too again open source.
From what I've read, RasPi was not developed for any government. It's an independent volunteer effort primarily by Eben Upton, a Broadcom engineer at their Cambridge, England facility. In terms of ARM processing power, BeagleBone has the edge since it uses an ARM Cortex-A8 instead of RasPi's ARM11. However, if you're doing video processing RasPi wins since it uses the same Broadcom BCM2835 media SoC as second-generation Roku digital media boxes. For this reason, many RasPi owners use it as a media box running XBMC and do not get much educational value from it. OTOH, these media consumers increase volume which keeps RasPi price low for the rest of us.
Memory capacity is about the same. The BeagleBone White (first BBone) has 256MB of DRAM, same as RasPi Model A and early RasPi Model B with rev 1.0 PCB. BBone Black has 512MB of DRAM, same as RasPi Model B shipping now with rev 2.0 PCB.
RasPi runs a full release of Debian GNU/Linux called Raspian. It's not "stripped down". BeagleBone usually ships with Ångström, but is switching over to Debian.
You are correct that RasPi is proprietary hardware and you cannot take the design and derive your own product like BeagleBone. Most of the BCM2835 documentation is hiding behind an NDA wall, though RasPi does provide enough to play with the I/O pins. OTOH, TI provides detailed documentation for everything except the GPU.
The chief advantage of BeagleBone is far more I/O pins and devices, including native Ethernet (instead of through a USB hub like RasPi) and Programmable Real-Time Units.
Good to see the list of accessories available for the BeagleBone Black and I hope more will be available going forward. I liked the TiWi-5E Cape, which adds WiFi capabilities to BBB, but the cost of some of the accessories seems to be higher than expectation.
@Kinnar: RasPi was originally developed for school students to educate students about computer programing without the need to buy a costly computer. As I have learned, RasPi was created for the British government for use in school settings and remains a proprietary technology, hence RasPi is not an "open source" hardware like Arduino or BeagleBone. BeagleBone is much more powerful as compared to RasPi. As BeagleBone has more powerful processor and more memory, it can run OS like Android, popular Linux OS like Ubuntu, whereas RasPi can run a stripped down version of the Linux OS. Since BeagleBone is open source hardware and more powerful than RasPi, I guess the cost premium over the RasPi cost is understandable. Once it gets more and more popular, I hope TI would be able to bring the cost down... :)
The BeagleBone Black is quite competitive with RasPi. USA pricing is US$45 for the BBB versus US$35 for RasPi Model B (the one with Ethernet and two USB ports). But the BBB includes on-board 2GB eMMC so that it boots immediately. RasPi requires you to buy an SD Card and get the OS onto it, or buy a pre-configured OS. BBB also comes with a working Mini USB cable. RasPi usually requires that you buy a separate Micro USB power cable. A lot of those have very thin conductors which cause enough of a voltage drop that the CPU cannot function reliably.
The big problem with BeagleBone these days is availability, according to what I read at Google Groups. BeagleBones have suddenly become very popular and supplies are limited.
This is again another alternative open source initiative like beagle board with smaller size, but the price is much more as compared to Raspberry Pi. Basically it is an initiative backed up by TI, if it is to be required to have acceptance from the students and entry-level developers then it need to be cost effective like Raspberry Pi.