The new Pi image will bring remote access and online updates, the first item listed. It will also include the latest Raspbian operating system software (for security and performance) and some updated content modules.
The password protected portal is something made by Intel specifically for the Plus hardware, so that won’t be on the new Pi. We do have on our list a project to replicate that functionality for the Pi, but that would be down the road and would come in the form of a RACHEL module that could be installed pretty easily later.
The rest of the hardware items, as you said, will obviously remain
For the related questions - unfortunately we don’t have any new info on SD card corruption. We do provide a manual shutdown control in the RACHEL admin so that you can minimize the problem, but it would still suffer under a power outage, and from the general issue that SD cards are not as durable under continuous usage as HDs.
Funny you should mention the WD Pi Drive - we just met with them last week and they gave us some test units. Looks like a cool device. The big advantage there is that the SD card is just used to boot, but all activity after that takes place on the HD. They claim that doing that minimizes the SD card corruption issue. My understanding is that even under a power outage, the HD is unlikely to sustain damage. I think we would need to make a different RACHEL image, though, that properly stored all the files on the HD instead of SD. If you try it and get there before me, we’d love it if you shared