November Update: Brave Heart, Pinebook Pro reception and more

Community News Pinebook Pro PinePhone PineTab PineTime RockPro64

Our core focus for the past month was on getting the manufacturing process and shipping of the Pinebook Pro, PinePhone and PineTime development kits back on track. I will not reiterate the events that led to the delays of those devices in this post, but if you’re interested then read the detailed account of what happened in last month’s community update

With the Pinebook Pros and PineTime development kits now shipped, and with the PinePhone developer edition now shipping, I feel that we’ve done a good job in handling the situation. 

The big news for this month is that we will start taking pre-orders for the PinePhone Brave Heart edition on November 15 and that the next Pinebook Pro production-run pre-orders, offering a choice of ANSI or ISO keyboard, starts today. Let’s get to it.

Here’s the TL;DR:

  • Our monster clusters; core community services will migrate to our own hardware in 2020
  • Pinebook Pros shipped; Last pre-orders for ~3 months start today (ANSI +ISO)
  • We’re aware of NVMe adapter & Trackpad issues, expect fixes soon
  • OG Pinebook upgrade to Pro-esque setup in Q1 2020
  • PinePhones for developers (finally) ship November 5-18th
  • PinePhone Brave Heart Pre-Orders start November 15th; delivery December 2019 / January 2020
  • PineTab production conundrum; state of software 
  • PineTime dev kits shipped; development proceeding exceptionally well

Housekeeping

Earlier this year we announced that we’ve built two monster ROCKPro64 clusters with the intention to host our website, Wiki, forums, CDN, Matrix instance, IRC, etc., as well as provide the community with an efficient OS images build server. We’ve have since been looking for a reliable host that would meet our criteria in terms of support, bandwidth, services and access that could house the server. Thanks to Gamiee – a community member, contributor and moderator – we were able to get in touch with BBXNET, who agreed the host the cluster for us at their datacenter and provide us with exactly the service we were looking for. 

BBXNET are located in central Europe, Slovakia, and offer a wide range of services including Internet and Television to their customer base. I feel compelled to let you know that they are helping us out of their own accord for no financial gain, a rare type of generosity, and in exchange for their help we’ll host a banner with their company logo on the website. It is the least we can do. 

As the setup process gets underway, Gamiee (who has a high degree of access to the server farm) will be taking pictures of the installation process. These pictures will be featured in future community updates. The transition of services to the cluster will be gradual, as we do not intend to compromise stability of our community services. I expect that Matrix and CDN will already be operating on the cluster in early 2020. If you live in Slovakia and in BBXNET’s service region, be sure to consider them when choosing your next ISP. 

RockPro64-Cluster-Large

48x ROCKPro64 cluster

[edit 8/11/2019] It turns out that the smaller of the two clusters, featuring 24x ROCKPro64 will be installed at BBXNET. I apologize for the confusion. I am including a picture of the smaller cluster below. Gamiee has already tweeted a picture of the server case and will be rebuilding and installing it at the final destination this month. More information to follow.

24x ROCKPro64 cluster

Pinebook Pro 

Thanks to the amazing efforts of the factory and shipping teams, the Pinebook Pros from both community production-runs and a large portion of the ‘public batch’ have now shipped. I expect that the majority of the ‘public batch’ will be at some stage of delivery processing from Hong Kong by the time this post goes live, or shortly thereafter. In short, if you haven’t gotten your Pinebook Pro yet, don’t worry, you should be receiving your shipping notification soon. 

As things currently stand, we are approximately two weeks behind the original shipping schedule for the remainder of the public batch. This means we’ve got just enough time to launch one more round of pre-orders for another large production-run before the Chinese New Year. Unlike the first batches (which have already shipped), this production-run will feature the much-requested choice of ANSI (US) or ISO (UK) keyboards. So if you have been holding out on buying a Pinebook Pro because you wanted to get an ANSI keyboard version, now is you chance.

It is important to emphasize that this will be the last production-run until after the Chinese New Year (which comes to an end in February 2020). During the holiday, production ceases completely at Chinese factories, and there are often production challenges immediately after people return to work after CNY. Here is what you need to know: if you do not pre-order a Pinebook Pro from this next batch before CNY, you probably won’t get your hands on one until late March or early April 2020.

PBP preorders

Let’s talk about user feedback, initial reactions and community engagement. Reported and known issues aside (I’ll get to that), the reception of the laptop has been very good and it appears that we have delivered on our promises in the eyes of end-users. I’ve now seen a number of Youtube videos and it appears that they echo the positive sentiments end-users share on the forum and elsewhere. DASGeek even ran a live unboxing of the Pinebook Pro stream the other night, which I feature below. We’ve felt good about the physical build quality and software maturity of the Pinebook Pro from the very start, but it is a relief to get an affirmation from the community.  Speaking of the community, we’re also very glad to see a high degree of engagement from people who continually contribute to testing, identifying and debugging software issues. Your efforts are much appreciated!

DASGeek live unboxing and Pinebook Pro showcase

For those of you looking to have more choice of operating systems, you’re in luck as many partner-project OS developers are now starting to receive their Pinebook Pros. It will obviously take them some time to bring support to the platform – this doesn’t just happen overnight – but I am happy to say that we expect to see Manjaro, Kali Linux, Q4OS (Debian), Fedora, KDE Neon as well as (hopefully) Ubuntu MATE OS images on the Pinebook Pro in the foreseeable future. The same is true for *BSD OS images, but I have a much less knowledge regarding the *BSD communities and their development cycles, so I cannot comment on a prospective roadmap. Regardless of how things pan out for the individual projects, I expect there to be considerably more OS choices available in January of 2020. 

As a teaser I attach an image of Manjaro running mainline kernel and Panfrost FOSS GPU drivers on the Pinebook Pro – pretty cool huh?

Picture from Manjaro devs (thanks for sharing!)

Last but not least, we are aware of the problems with the NVMe adapter and trackpad issues – both of which I discussed in last month’s update. 

Let me start with the trackpad: we’re working closely with the vendor to resolve this as soon as possible and we’ve already successfully compiled the keyboard firmware utility from source and applied the correct license (huge shout-out to Ayufan for offering help getting this code functional in record time). The underlying issue itself has now been identified and a firmware patch is incoming soon. As soon as the trackpad issue is resolved the updater will be compiled into a binary and bundled with the necessary firmware; all that will be needed to apply the fix is hitting a big ‘START’ button and restarting the Pinebook Pro.

As for the NVMe adapter it looks like we got it wrong twice (whoops, sorry! Let’s hope the third time’s the charm). We’ll make it right, so don’t worry; the engineering team needs to sit down and do a bit of thinking as to how this can be best addressed in the shortest time-span and in the most efficient way. I’ll make sure to get back to you when I hear something from people in the know. We really appreciate your patience. 

There is one more thing I’d like to mention before heading on to the next section. When we first announced the Pinebook Pro we made a commitment to those of you with the original Pinebook (featuring the Allwinner A64) that it will be possible to upgrade existing Pinebooks to Pro-esque versions. We have since struggled with two engineering issues to make this a reality, the most important of which is heat-dissipation of the RK3399 in a plastic shell. It now looks like we’ve cracked this issue by using heat dissipating metal foil and a thermal pad. Provided that this solution holds up under testing, you can expect the upgrade kit in Q1 2020. We hope that by providing this kit we not only cater to our community but also do our part in reducing the number of OG Pinebooks ending up in landfills.   

PinePhone

The road to deliver the PinePhone has been a bumpy one for us in the recent months. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to read last month’s update, in which I explain some of the difficulties we encountered in the process of manufacturing developer units. I usually don’t like shifting blame onto others for delays – it just feels like a cheap excuse – but frankly, the current PinePhone delay is caused solely by third parties. More specifically, it is caused by part vendors that failed to deliver the necessary components to us on time. We usually plan for these situations, and we did in this instance too, but we were stood up by more than one vendor and on more than one occasion, resulting in the production stalling each time. I am not going to go into details here, mostly because I don’t want to waste time on it, but for what it’s worth – it all boils down to reliably sourcing quality digitizers. To date, we had to reschedule assembly thrice because of this.  What can I say, you live – you learn – you get over it and move forward. The good news is that we’re now moving forward and full steam ahead with a reliable supply of components. 

Here is the PinePhone road-map for the foreseeable future:

  • Pre-release PinePhones are currently shipping and we should have them all out by November 15th. Once shipped, delivery should be between 7 and 14 days.  
  • Brave Heart edition PinePhone pre-orders start 8:00AM, November 15th (GMT+0).
  • Brave Heart edition will be delivered December 2019 / January 2020. 
  • Mass production begins after Chinese New Year, likely in early March 2020. 

Let me address each of the points above, because I feel there are a few subtleties the community needs to be made aware of. The developer PinePhones will start going out this week and we expect that shipments will be concluded by November 15th. Ironically, the delay in production of  PinePhones for developers has brought about a number of key benefits to these units. For one, based on internal testing and feedback from partner-project developers with existing prototypes, we managed to address all known hardware issues as well as implement proper antenna arrays. Prior to the delay, we were planning on shipping PinePhones for developers with off-the-shelf u.FL antennas. Such antennas, while not ideal, would have served the development purposes just fine. The delay, however, granted us the additional time to properly implement the antennas into the phone’s body and tune them according to requirements for end-users. We were able to complete the tuning process of 3G, 4G, and GPS antennas . We’ve made progress tuning the 2G antenna but haven’t finalized it yet.

This effectively means that developers will be receiving a well-rounded, complete and (to our knowledge) problem-free platform to build their OS releases and applications. These units are much closer to those that end-users will be receiving this and next year. We were hoping to have developers give us one last bit of feedback on the hardware before it enters production and ends up in enthusiasts’ hands. But it is too late for that. The window for PinePhone Brave Heart production is closing very fast due to the upcoming Holidays in the West and, more importantly, the Chinese New Year in January 2020 which shuts down Chinese production lines for over a month. This effectively means that if we didn’t start Brave Heart edition production now, we would find ourselves in no position to deliver any PinePhones until March 2020. Suffice to say, we don’t want to do that. As a result, Brave Heart circuit board assembly is already underway, the molds are pumping out PinePhone chassis and the necessary components have been sourced and are en route to the designated factories. 

[edit 06/11/19] Here is a picture of the infused antennas used in the Brave Heart batch

Prototype – photo by Martjin Braam

I don’t want to give you an impression that the Brave Heart PinePhone edition is a rushed or incomplete product – that is not the case. We have carried out extensive in-house testing of prototypes and sent prototype phones to a number of key developers from partner projects. Youtube videos show these prototypes in action – you can search for them online or check out last month’s community update, where I feature some of them. We have addressed all known issues with the hardware and tested software compatibility extensively, both in-house and with our partner-projects. Indeed, this is more testing than we usually do on any other hardware, including flagship devices such as the Pinebook Pro. The extensive testing carried out on the PinePhone is a result of both the complexity of the device as well as our understanding of its importance, which spans far beyond our community.

With that out of the way, I’m happy to announce that the Brave Heart production run of PinePhones will be available for pre-order in 10 days time from the day of publishing this blog entry, on November 15, 2019 at 8:00AM (GMT+0).

Timer on main page counting down to pre-orders  opening

So, what can Brave Heart adopters look forward to and what should they be aware of? Let’s talk about the hardware first: the Brave Heart PinePhones will, by and large, be identical to PinePhones produced in 2020 and onwards. This applies to the case molding, PCB, LCD assembly, cooling, as well as various other components making up the phones, including aesthetic ones. These are effectively considered ‘final’. That said, as I already mentioned, we will likely be further tweaking 2G antennas to improve reception of the respective bands and we reserve the right to fix any issues that may be uncovered in the hardware. We do not, however, deem it likely that any major issues will transpire or affect end-users. Still, keep in mind that this batch is called Brave heart for a reason – we’re looking for those brave enough to be the first adopters of this hardware. If bravery is not in your nature, or this isn’t something you’re willing to take a risk on, then please sit this one out and wait until March 2020 to get your production unit. 

As for the software, I have nothing but good news to relay. It is my understanding that, with the exception of the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera, all core features of the phone are now functional. Developers still have a lot of software optimisation to do, including voice calls (which are a work-in-progress) and camera functionality, as well as other kernel and userspace parts. To give you a vague sense of where software is at using traditional computer terminology, which most of us can intuitively understand; you can think of the main flagship OSs as first stable ‘beta OS images’. Not everything works, bugs are to be expected, but overall things are really shaping up nicely. In a similar vein to what I wrote regarding the PinePhone Brave Heart hardware – if trying out beta builds isn’t something you enjoy, then please wait until polished OS images become available in Q1 2020. I expect that this is something most users who want an early PinePhone already expect and understand, nonetheless I felt it necessary to underline this so that only those with the right mindset get one of those units. 

Finishing off this already lengthy PinePhone section, I completely forgot to mention that Brave Heart schematics and other associated documents have now been made available. I am linking them below for you to view and comment on: 

PineTab

[edit 8/11/2019] Vox Populi, Vox Dei. Looks like there is a lot of interest in an early-adopter production run of the PineTab. Subsequently we have decided to make it happen. We still need an suitable OS to emerge however; we hope that news of the production now being underway will help in making this happen.

We’ve made no secret of the fact that the PineTab is currently taking a backseat to the Pinebook Pro and the PinePhone production schedules. That said, we constantly get asked about the PineTab status on the forum, Twitter, Mastodon and elsewhere (even by podcast hosts). Hence, I felt it necessary to provide the community with some general sense of the hardware and software development stages, as well as share our thoughts on a suitable time for starting production. Spoiler alert, we aren’t quite sure as to the latter.  

As I mentioned in last month’s community update, we are currently waiting for a suitable OS image to emerge so that we can ship the tablet with it. We also need to make a couple of minor improvements to the hardware itself – we’ve gotten feedback from partner-project developers that the keyboard pogo-pin connector needs to be strengthened and the speaker replaced with a better one. To date, no other major issues have been reported with the prototypes, and so – as I’ve already stated in the past – we can theoretically start production of the PineTab relatively soon. With the Holiday season and Chinese New Year now looming over our production schedules, we’re at the brink of making a decision on whether now is a viable time to start an early adopter production-run. The next couple of days will determine if we find this time feasible or not. I’ll make sure to update this entry when a decision on this subject is reached. 

As things stand, we have already settled on the keyboard design that we’ll use for the tablet. It is a really nice chiclet keyboard – at least as far as small form-factor keyboards go – and features sturdy illuminated keys. Similarly to the keyboard you may have seen used with prototypes, it doubles up as complete tablet cover and features a really pu leather (fake leather) finish. We’re really pleased with how it turned out and I am confident in saying that most of you will like it too. 

As far as the software is concerned, we’ve got a couple of options available to us. The PineTab has benefited greatly from the amount of development that has gone into the PinePhone. But there is more than mobile OS devs in the development pool. Indeed, there are a number of original Pinebook developers and projects that have taken on the task of developing for the PineTab too. There are a handful of very promising OS images from big and small projects alike, but to my knowledge none that could be defined as ready for prime-time. Some of the OS images feature a traditional desktop environment and are, to a greater or lesser degree, tweaked ports of OS images for the original Pinebook. One such example is Manjaro with KDE – probably the most popular distro on the original Pinebook. From the phone lineage of OSs, there are already builds of Aurora, SaifishOS, Ubuntu Touch and PostmarketOS for the PineTab. I have not tested all of the aforementioned builds and so I cannot speak to their ‘completeness’. Danct12 from PostmarketOS has great showcases of the PineTab development progress, as well as various novelty items related to the tablet, uploaded on his youtube channel. I link some of his videos below.

What do you think, should we run an early adopters batch before the Chinese New Year? I am really eager to hear what you think, so leave a comment under this post with your thoughts on this. Thanks!

Aurora on the PineTab – by Sergey Chupligin (neochapay)

OpenGL demo on the PineTab – by Danct12

PineTime

Despite development being in its infancy, the PineTime is already running FOSS software. Developers working on the watch deserve a huge shoutout for making so much progress in so little time – it hasn’t even been a month since they received the development kits. There are only so many things that I can keep track of when it comes to development, especially when there are so many things that have to be actively dealt with, so I am not going to pretend I have any real insight into how far devs have gotten. That said, the development process has taken on a striking resemblance to what I’ve seen with the PinePhone, where developers from different backgrounds and walks of life work together in getting the project off the ground. It’s probably corny to write this, but it’s genuinely quite heartwarming to see people bundle around what is effectively a proof-of-concept idea at this time. 

Since this is a community driven side-project, we have started considering making the dev-kits available to everyone in the store. In contrast to the PinePhone, which requires expensive and sophisticated development kits, a PineTime development kit is effectively an open watch with a debugger. Therefore, producing more of such kits is relatively simple. At the time of writing, a decision has not been reached yet whether we’ll proceed with making more kits available or not. But there is no denying that there is a lot of interest in this project also from people who want to use the PineTime in novel, interesting and important ways. For instance, we’ve been contacted by researchers from a reputable institution who wish to use the PineTime in a health-related capacity rather than a smartwatch. 

I’ll make sure to let you all know how the PineTime project evolves in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I leave you with a picture of the PineTime running its first FOSS watchface (and OS).

The PineTime’s first watchface running TinyGo – photo by Ayke van Laethem

This is all for this month, thanks for reading!  

128 thoughts on “November Update: Brave Heart, Pinebook Pro reception and more

  1. Thank you for the update and for the great work! Regarding the PineTab, I am eager to buy one (and a PinePhone) now in order to start porting apps for them. I have been developing iOS and Android apps for 10 years, I am more than ready to start doing it for a free platform at last!

    1. Same here ⛵️, 9+ years of experience in native Android+iOS development and I’m looking forward to port over some of my open source Android apps. Paypal is accepted for the pre-orders in 2 days or?

  2. I think it would be a good idea to do early adopters batch for the PineTab. This would be good incentive for the various communities to keep working on the port when there are actual users plus more potential developers can get their hands on one as well.

  3. I am looking forward for the brave heart edition of the PinePhone! 🙂

    A question regarding the PineTab: do you guys plan to support smart pencils? (Maybe even create your own PineStick :D) I would love to see Linux HW for taking notes in university. So none of us would be forced to buy insanely overpriced proprietary gear.

    What you do is great and really needed. How you guys do it is just awesome! Can’t wait to get my hands on any of the Pinestuff! Keep up the great work. 🙂

      1. I have the Lenovo Thinkpad X1. Everything works out of the box with Linux, including the pen. The only other tablets that I know of that can be made at least mostly working in Linux are the last two Dell tablets, the Lenovo Miix, the Chuwi Hi10, and the surface series (Surface 3 particularly). The current HP tablets, like most of the current tablets out there can be made partially functioning with a lot of work. Usually the camera and the touchscreen are the big hang ups – proprietary drivers.

        With the exception of the Miix and Hi10 they are all over $500. It would be nice to have an inexpensive Linux tablet to just throw in your backpack and not worry about it. So, happily looking forward to the Pinetab.

          1. Probably. Lenovo is one of only a few companies that is Linux friendly. You can search the Ubuntu forums, and the Arch and Debian forums keep a running list of compatible hardware.

            Or just copy a distro to a thumb drive and try it out

          2. Thanks for the reply!
            As soon as I get it back from service, I’ll create an USB Linux and have a look at it. 🙂

    1. Hey, the PineTab will not support smart pencils. But if we decide on a Pro version in the future, this is something we may consider – thank you for the idea!

  4. Since this is a community driven side-project, we have started considering making the dev-kits available to everyone in the store

    Yes, please!

  5. If the Pogo pin and speaker problem can be solved in time, I’d buy a braveheart Pinetab now. If an active stylus can be added, I’d rather wait for that. I use Wacom, and n-trig pens with my other tablets and phones and I find it dramatically improves the whole phone/tablet experience. Capacitive pens don’t compare.

    1. An active stylus will not be added for the PineTab – but I’ll take this suggestion forward to be considered for a future ‘Pro’ version.

  6. I didn’t see in the post if LTE is still an option with the Pinetab. It would be the perfect tablet with a “PineStick” and LTE

    1. I would love for a RTLSDR dongle option in whatever form-factor the LTE option would come in. A portable SDR that I don’t even have to think about to take with me? That would be great!

  7. I am planning to order a Pinebook Pro and I want to get the NVMe adapter. Should I order them both now or should I order just the PBP now and wait until the new revision is ready before I order the NVMe adapter?

    1. There were some real issues with early prototypes of the CUBE – notably it was impossible to get the camera working on mainline. This was an implementation issue. We hope to get the project back on track in 2020, once the PBP; PinePhone and Tab are all shipping and there is space for new projects.

      1. Maybe we should get a poll started for the CUBE vs PineTab and see who wins. /joking

        Keep up the good work. Hope to hear more news about the CUBE in upcoming updates! $20 PoE camera seems too dreamy to pass up.

  8. I’ll set an alarm for midday, November 15th. In addition, as I’d love to do that on a PineTime, I’d love devkits to be available on the shop.

  9. Thanks for the update–I’m excited to hear how things are, in general, making solid progress!
    I’m also very interested in purchasing a PineTime watch dev kit; ever since Pebble got bought out I’ve been looking for a replacement watch ecosystem that is even remotely comparable. Given the energy that I’ve been seeing around the Pine products, I’m hopeful that this might be it!

    1. I suspect that the operational time of the tablet will be ~3/4 that of the original Pinebook (6000mAh vs 10000mAh) . Depending on your use-case, brightness setting, OS, etc., I suspect that battery will last 6-8hrs of constant use. It may be slightly more because the panel is lower resolution. Worst case scenario – 6 hrs, best case scenario – double that.

  10. Tablecik wygląda dobrze, choć ramki są niedzisiejsze.
    Wolałbym by zmieściło się eth (fajnie jak by było składane wejście jak w niektórych laptopach) i normalny host usb A do klawiatury i myszki, innych akcesoriów. Zasilanie usb C bo dziś każdy powerbank to ma.

    Na wideo jest mali 400 ale czy to otwarty sterownik? Da się na tym liczyć tensorflopw?
    Chciałbym by to działało przynajmniej pół dobry. Przynajmniej. Może być cięższe. Fajnie by było jak by na dole były klawisze, może ze 4-5. jeden wiekszy. Wtedy choc strzalki mozna by uzywac fizycznie.

    A i jeszcze jedno, wyslijcie ten tablet linusowi, jeden za free. Tak w podzięce

  11. klaster to dobry pomysł, ale zlitujcie się, dajcie szybszą sieć niż ethernet. Przy tej ilosci procesorów warto jednak dac szybsza siec. W czym problem kupic jakis tani FPGA i zapakować do kart podłączanych przez gpio. Ale to musi być szybsze, bo inaczej nawet zwyklego cache sieciowego sie nei da zrobic dobrze.

    Wiele osob szuka małych maszyn do MPI by pisac programy na superkomputery, ale superkomputery maja choćby infiniband. Jesli tego nie ma, to zupełnie nie da się tego porównać i cały wysiłek optymalizacji idzie w krzaki

  12. I am one of those that recently received a Pinebook Pro. Great little ARM laptop, and am more than happy with the HW/SW and the support provided by Pine64.

  13. I’m always interested in a tablet, as well as providing feedback. While Quake is cool, I’d be interested to see how it would hold up to day-to-day usage with browsing, e-mail, and casual e-book usage. Of course having a terminal would be super handy too.

  14. I believe an early adopters batch of PineTabs would be a good idea. It will push the development too. Personally I cannot wait to get one. Thank you for your amazing work.

  15. Great work, and another excellent update, Lukasz! Like everybody else, I just set an alarm 😀
    I hope the Pine folks are expecting a few million Brave Hearts!

    Seriously, approx how many braveheart Pinephones are likely to be made?

  16. What about a tablet with an e-ink screen? (Linux ereader pleaseeeeeee) And an e-ink variant for PineTime? Better for your eyes, plus think about how much longer the battery would last!

    1. Not going to happen. It just wouldn’t be competitive against Kindle (it would be more expensive) and there are no established projects working on a free e-reader. I pitched it to TL last year and after doing some exploration it was canned.

      1. “there are no established projects working on a free e-reader”
        Well we need one. Your pessimism is highly disappointing. The kindle is proprietary garbage and you do not truly own any of the books on it thanks to their highly invasive DRM and updates that delete books they don’t want you to have. Rather than accepting defeat you should be advocating even more. Pine64 already has plans for a tablet, so it’s not like making a version with an eink display would be that huge of a leap.

        1. “so it’s not like making a version with an eink display would be that huge of a leap”

          It would. Sticking in an A64 into a e-reader is not exactly a good idea, so it would have to be based on a lower power( W consumption) SoC, which we would have to: source, learn about, create dev kits of, etc., This is a lot of work. You see, my “pessimism” stems from doing research on this. However, since the question was originally asked on here, I went back to an engineer and asked him to take another look at it. There seems there are some options and ideas we could play with – but the end result would likely still not be as cheap as a closed sourced source counterparts nor would it work as well. Also a lot of work would be needed on the software-side to make this project viable – and I don’t just mean reaching out (where?) to devs who would like to build sw for an e-reader – I also mean kernel work on this selected SoC.

          If you think I am wrong, and you’ve got some great ideas backed by relevant information (hw/sw – anything), then I am more than happy to admit I am wrong and ask hw folks to explore this further.

        1. It’s based on Allwinner SoC (A13), like most of the PocketBooks, and uses a swappable on-board uSD card to hold the system that it boots from, and has easily accessible UART (big pads on the board). So as hackability goes, it’s up there with PinePhone. And A13 has pretty much full mainline support as of now, because it was the first Allwinner SoC to be mainlined, AFAIK.

          It’s actually a pretty sweet device. Most of the PocketBook models (even up to the $200-250 “HD” display price range) are based on this A13 design (boards differ in layout, and displays are different).

          Let me know if you have any questions.

  17. So, from reading all the posts it looks like we should proceed with PineTab and with having PineTime dev kits in the store. I’ll see if this can happen prior to CNY and get back to you guys. Thanks for the feedback!

    1. You guys are doing great things and I look forward to seeing what happens with all of these new products! I definitely want the watch and probably the tablet too.

  18. If I can add my own thoughts to PineStick and PineReader, I’d say don’t abandon them!

    PineTab Pro may be a ways off, but I am all on board for a PineTab Pro w/ PineStick! I am still debating getting the current PineTab (how many devices does one man need?), so while the hypothetical Pro’s upgrades and PineStick are still on the horizon and wouldn’t keep me from getting a PineTab, do bring the PineStick, with a hearty please!

    My recommendation for a PineReader though would be to wait for CLEARink to make their displays widely available.

    https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=8217

  19. wait a minute, first you write that pre-orders for pinephone will start at midday, then at 8.00…
    it’s quite important for me to know the exact time because i need the phome urgently; are you expecting many adherents?
    ciao

      1. gosh I need absolutely one. Do you think you’ll be able to satisfy all requests without limit? I didn’ read anything about this in the many previous posts – i’m following some months already – or maybe didnt get it because of my bad english. Anyway, is it 8.00 GMT or gmt+5/6/7 hrs for us europers? thanks
        ciao bello

        1. There is a limit – 3k units. And I am absolutely certain that we won’t be able to satisfy demand … there is nothing we can do about that. Its GMT+0

  20. I would love to see a PineTab test batch. Ubuntu Touch already had an OEM tablet produced once, which was awsum. Also, UT is fully form factor-responsive by design. The side-stage in tablet-mode is really useful. I’d love to QA it further if some form of pre-release version were to appear

  21. We need a Linux tablet, we currently have nothing, we have bastardized versions of Android that either lose support (Nvidia Shield), or have a ton of bugs. There is 0 options for a FOSS e-book reader that isnt a 1400$ fat disgusting Surface Tablet.

  22. Is there a possibility in the future of a ‘mini’ Pinebook Pro? I like the size of devices such as the One-Netbook Onemix series and the GDP Pocket, but they’re not as FOSS-friendly as I would like.

    1. Unlikely. However, we already disclosed that at some point in the coming year we’ll make a keyboard for the PinePhone, effectively turning it into a PDA

      1. Holy crap, a physical keyboard attachment for the Pinephone, to make it basically a PDA?! LOVE it!!! 🙂

        Almost no modern phone anywhere has this anymore and I miss it, physical keyboard is 10x more superior than virtual keyboard for phone, I will buy this in addition to phone once it is released. 😎

        Thanks for all of your amazing work.

  23. tried to get a sailfish talbet years ago but they busted it.
    Had a BQ ubuntu touch tablet, and i’m using a chinese tablet with Plasma, but it is still a pain.
    So i’m looking forward to the pine tab, still using my nokia n9..

  24. “pinestick” is a great idea.
    but in my experience the best digitizers are those of wacom (because passive) and I do not think that using their hw is a cheap thing.

    well, it simply means that it will take longer for these features (like the eink).
    I’m glad you’re thinking of putting the sim module on your tablet as well 🙂

  25. “The extensive testing carried out on the PinePhone is a result of both the complexity of the device as well as our understanding of its importance, which spans far beyond our community.”

    Very well said! The pinephone is an important device for Linux on phone as a whole. I look forward to be a part of it. Keep up the good work!

  26. Hello, very interesting read.
    What does “tuning the 2G antenna” mean, is that a hardware or software thing?
    Thank you!

    1. Not an engineer, so do take the follwoing with a grain of salt; turning relates to the layout (physical shape), process of embedding as well as placement (on the plastic frame) of the antenna.

  27. “…with the exception of the front-facing ‘selfie’ camera, all core features of the phone are now functional…”

    I have never understood the disproportionate desire and need for a camera as a part of a phone. Certainly, it’s a nice addition, a “perk”, if you will; VERY similar to the inclusion, or not, of an FM radio; or an MP3 music player. Some people will even go so far as to make the specs of the camera THE driving force behind their decision to buy a particular phone–or not. Ridiculous! Inexpensive high-quality (much higher than the cameras found on any phone) cameras are available to anyone who truly needs a really good camera.
    My suggestion is that, in this particular instance, the implementation of the camera should take a ‘back seat’ to all the other really major problems which need to be solved in a high-quality fashion, and only then should attention be given to finishing the PinePhone with Pine’s typical high-quality attention-to-detail as regards the camera.
    Simply my opinion.

    1. I think that the camera is taking a back-seat. We won’t hold production for OS implementing the front-facing camera if everything else works (which is kind-of the case). 🙂

  28. Is there any demand for a batch of PinePhones without the cellular radios and antennas? I would be happy with the small form factor and wifi only.

    1. We’re not planning on making something like this. However, do keep in mind that you have HW switches for the different components – including LTE. So if you don’t want to use the modem you don’t have to – you can just cut power to it.

  29. It would be neat to see a microsd card slot for the pinetime… space for the apps and other things people might want to create. Idk how feasible it would be if at all but merely a suggestion.

    1. Servers overloaded … admins being pulled from bed … 1.5hrs from disaster to ‘working-ish’, have some mercy 😉

      1. Best comment for the day, truly shows the enthusiasm you guys created! I will not tweet that but you should! Pls. 😀
        The Linux community really needed such a thing for a long time now.

  30. PineTab is how I found out about Pine64, and why I’ve been eagerly watching the news blog: As an embedded linux developer, I’ve happily put in for a Brave Heart PinePhone, and would be extremely interested in a similarly early release of the PineTab 🙂

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