Introducing the PineNote

Lukasz Erecinski Aug 15. 2021 104

This month brings news that many of you have been waiting years for – we’re introducing the PineNote, a high-end e-ink device based on the powerful Quartz64 single board computer. But the good news doesn’t end here, the PinePhone keyboard has entered production, developers have begun work on PinePhone’s back cases, PineDio development is moving forward and we’ve seen a new firmware release for Pinebook Pro’s touchpad. There’s a lot of ground to cover this month, so let’s get to it.

You can watch the synopsis of this month’s community update on YouTube (embedded below) as well as on Odysee and PeerTube. To stay up-to-date with PINE64 news make sure to subscribe to this blog (subscription widget at the bottom of the webpage), follow PINE64 Telegram News channel, the announcements channel in Discord as well as our Twitter and Mastodon.

I’d like to thank JF, Alex (clover), Dylan (from postmarketOS), Peter (LinMob), Alfred (from UBports), Chris (kop316), Brian (33YN2), gamiee and PizzaLovingNerd for their contributions to this community update.

N.B. Comments on the blog post need to be in English and follow our Community Rules and Code of Conduct.

Community update video summary by PizzaLovingNerd

TL;DR

  • Housekeeping: DHL sent all PinePhones to NZ, so we had to reship all orders (sorry for the delay)
  • Housekeeping: Building a temporary cluster to complete and maintain hosting cluster; build log and updates incoming
  • PineNote: Announcing the PineNote, one of the most powerful devices of its kind on the market
  • PineNote: Quartz64 based; specs include – fast refresh e-ink panel with multiple frontlight settings, RK3566, 4GB LPDDR4 RAM and 128GB eMMC flash storage
  • PineNote: Wacom panel compatible with many EMR pens: we will offer our own
  • PineNote: Available this year for $399; early adopters batch includes EMR pen + magnetic cover (later sold separately)
  • PinePhone Hardware: PinePhone keyboard feels great and enters production this month
  • PinePhone Hardware: PinePhone keyboard available in September or early October
  • PinePhone Hardware: good news re: back cases – fingerprint reader and wireless charging add-ons sorted out, and should be entering production shortly
  • PinePhone Software: Ubuntu Touch mirclient support and trust prompts on the PinePhone; 20.04 upgrade Ubuntu Touch coming to the PinePhone
  • PinePhone: handsfree and car kit for the PinePhone allowing to answer calls without interaction with phone; will also allow synchronising contacts
  • PinePhone Software: LinMobApps features 300+ applications for Linux smartphones
  • PinePhone Software: Work on MMS progressing well and work on Visual Voicemail is underway
  • Pinebook Pro: New firmware solves many outstanding touchpad issues; majority of people now find the touchpad’s performance nearly perfect
  • Pinebook Pro: we’ll see Vulkan support for the RK3399 in Mesa 21.2; it also includes OpenGL 3.1  
  • Pinebook Pro: 64bit Box86 AMD64 architecture emulator now available, runs on Arm64 natively 
  • Pinebook Pro: Availability late this year looks more likely with decreasing LCD prices; good chance a large batch will be produced at end of the year
  • PineTime: InfiniTime 1.3 release brings new watch face and LittleFS integration, paving way to accessing internal 4MB storage for additional apps & functionality.
  • PineTime: WaspOS gets new alarm application and frees up 10% of memory; updated micropython
  • PineTime: Two iOS companion apps in development for all you iPhone users
  • PineDio: JF and Lup received PineDio Stack and PinePhone LoRa back cases; a closer look at the devices and discussion development challenges

Housekeeping

I know most of you want to get straight into reading about the PineNote but there are two housekeeping items that we need to address first. Gamiee and I will keep it short, we promise. Late last month DHL accidentally shipped all PinePhone orders (bar those dispatching from the EU warehouse) to New Zealand instead of their intended destinations. We initially hoped to quickly retrieve the shipping pallet and have it returned to Hong Kong, but DHL informed us that this will only be possible when an appropriate flight (allowed to carry battery-operated equipment) becomes available. Given these circumstances we made the decision to reship all orders from our Hong Kong warehouse, so you don’t have to wait until the misplaced pallet is returned to us. Those of you waiting for your PinePhones should have received tracking numbers by the time this post goes live, or shortly thereafter. We’re obviously very sorry for the situation, please accept our apologies. As always, you can follow shipping updates here

Gamiee: It is now more than a year since we moved all our services such as the official forum, Wiki and this webpage to a hosting cluster made out of 24 RockPro64s. During this time the cluster faced various challenges, such as for instance nodes freezing up – an issue which was solved by using iSCSI instead of NFS for root filesystem sharing. But except for such relatively minor issues, the cluster has now been running nonstop for 354 days! After we got the cluster up and running, we promised to write an article about it. This never happened however, as the write-up was kept being postponed until we felt the cluster was completed (in its final form). This still holds true: the cluster is still missing some things we’d like to add to it, like power cables for remote reset of the nodes, as well as other things that are hard to implement without shutting down our entire infrastructure. For this reason, we decided to build a small temporary cluster, which will house nodes with the most important services, so that we can finish our hosting cluster without a major disruption to our community services. In the coming weeks I (gamiee) will publish a community post about building this temporary cluster, and I will keep providing updates about the deployment as well as the next steps for the hosting cluster in weeks to come. More information will follow shortly, stay tuned.

A screenshot of system uptime on one of the nodes

PineNote

You’ve been asking us to create an e-ink device for years, and indeed we actually looked to make one as early as 2017. I even remember publicly ping-ponging ideas with the community members at the time and researching which SoC would be the best fit for such a device. At the time we were looking to create an alternative to the entry-level Kindle and other such big-brand e-readers. We quickly learned, however, that big brands heavily subsidize their e-readers via book sales and even if we sold an open e-reader at cost (or a loss), we still couldn’t possibly match popular devices’ price tag. Thankfully, the technology landscape and what is achievable using e-ink has significantly changed since 2017. Since the announcement of Rockchip’s RK3566 we knew our opportunity to create an open e-ink device had arrived. Early this year we made the decision to create the PineNote. 

The PineNote in the flesh (prototype)

The PineNote is one of, if not the, most powerful e-ink device available on the market. It shares in much of the Quartz64’s pedigree, sporting the same RK3566 quad-core A55 SoC paired with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 128GB eMMC flash storage. The PineNote is also fitted with two microphones and two speakers, a USB-C port for fast charging and data, as well as 5Ghz AC WiFi. Suffice to say, there is more than enough power in the device to serve its intended purpose (more on that later). The inner frame – the midsection – of the PineNote is made out of a magnesium alloy (similar to the Pinebook Pros outer chassis), making for a sturdy construction, while the back features a pleasantly ‘grippy’ plastic back cover with speaker cut-outs. The e-ink panel is covered by scratch resistant and glare reducing hardened glass. The entire assembly comes in at just over 7mm thick, which is approx. 1mm thinner than the Kindle Oasis 3, if you ever held one of those.

A closer look at the PCB (left) and internal layout (right) (images of engineering prototype)

With the base-specs out of the way, let’s talk about the e-ink panel, which is indisputably the most important part of the device. The 10.3 inch, 3:4 panel has a resolution of 1404×1872 (227 DPI), can display 16 levels of grayscale. It features a frontlight with cool (white) to warm (amber) light adjustment. What this means in practice is that you can illuminate the panel in dim or dark spaces to your liking. For those of you who don’t know, warm light is usually preferable in very dim spaces since it may significantly reduce eye-strain. I am also sure we’ll eventually see an automatic frontlight implementation, similar to KDE’s ‘Night Color’ or GNOME’s ‘Night Light’, which allow the OS to reduce the monitor’s (in this case the e-ink panels frontlight) blue light based on time of the day. Atop the e-ink panel sit a capacitive glass layer – for finger touch-based input – and a Wacom electromagnetic resonance layer (EMR) for EMR pen input. We will be selling a EMR pen for the PineNote, but in the event you don’t like it or already have a pen you’re accustomed to, then you can use it with the PineNote (granted it is compatible with the Wacom EMR standard).

Edit August 16 00:09 UTC: A previous version of this post listed the e-ink panel’s refresh rate at 60Hz. This number requires much more context. It takes multiple frames to display most images on an e-ink panel. The visual performance of the panel also depends on the method of converting the screen image to data the panel understands. We will be unable to make estimates of the panel’s true performance in frames per second without much more testing and development. So we’ve removed the 60Hz figure for now. We apologize for any misunderstanding.

Wrapping up the hardware description section, the EMR pen (recommended by the vendor we’re working with) features a faint LED power on/off indicator, a previous/ next page button as well as an eraser button. I cannot say much more about the chosen pen at this time since I haven’t held it myself yet, but once I get some hands-on time with it I’ll be sure to share my initial impression. And while we can’t guarantee compatibility with any other pens on the market, we’re sure that people will test out their EMR pens and report back on the wiki so everyone can have a buyer’s guide.

We will be making the PineNote available for early adopters later this year for $399. The early adopter’s PineNote batch will ship with a magnetic cover (working with an on-board hall sensor, putting the device to sleep) as well as the EMR pen. Following the early adopter’s batch, both the cover and the pen will be sold separately. 

PineNote in the magnetic cover and the EMR pen attached

As far as software is concerned, much of the work to run a mainline Linux installation on the PineNote has already been completed thanks to development done on Quartz64. However, the e-ink panel driver will most likely not be functional at the time of the device’s release in mainline Linux. So initial batches will probably ship with Manjaro built atop of BSP kernel 4.19, unless devs can get the driver to work with 5.XX kernel in the next few months. Time will tell. As for the actual user interface, we’re currently talking to the good folks at KDE and trying to figure out whether Plasma Mobile or regular Plasma (with panel-specific tweaks of course) will be the best fit for this particular device. As you can probably tell, this is an uncharted territory for all parties involved, but we’ll figure it out. Needless to say, the software isn’t finished – indeed, we don’t really even know yet what will work well with this technology and what won’t. It is just the beginning of our journey with e-ink technology, and it will take a long time and much effort to make the PineNote end-user worthy. This is very much an active-development development device at this time, and you should expect it to retain this status for quite some time.

Edit for clarity, August 15 19:38 UTC: We’re seeing a lot of excitement and “shut up and take my money, I’ll throw out my other e-ink devices tomorrow!” responses to this post, but remember that we are a community of developers first and foremost. If you’re looking to buy a PineNote in the first batch, you must expect to write software for it, not to write notes on it. The software shipping from the factory for the first batch will not be suitable for taking notes, reading e-books, or writing your dissertation. It may not even boot to a graphical environment. However, we are excited for what you’ll create with this device and we’re ready to take the journey with you. We’ll be posting more updates on software progress on this blog as they come in.

Its alive! Pretty impressive, given that Peter (pgwipeout) has only had it for 48hrs – picture by pgwipeout

As I see it, the PineNote will eventually not only make for a great device to read books, comic books, sketching, taking notes and productivity in LibreOffice (as someone who does a lot of typing, I am looking forward to connecting a keyboard up to it and not having my eyes burn at the end of the night), but also for browsing the web or listening to internet radio or podcasts. I’m sure some of you lunatics will also use it for terminal work and other such applications – godspeed and have fun with it, you’ve got our blessing. But jokes aside, an open e-ink device such as this really holds a lot of potential and opens multiple avenues to explore. Don’t think of it as an e-ink notepad or an e-reader, it is much more than that. I am looking forward to seeing what people will use it for outside of its core intended purpose. Schematics and other details will be up on PINE64 Wiki sometime between now and launch. 

[edit 2:50 UTC, October 16] A preliminary PineNote Wiki site is now up with early schematics (v.1.0) and component list – click here.

What sort of peripherals would you like to see for the PineNote? As I already mentioned, I’d personally like us to explore creating a dedicated keyboard for it, converting the PineNote into a quasi-laptop device. What else do you think would be an interesting peripheral, expansion or add-on? Please feed us some good ideas, we’ll surely consider them.  

You can chat about the PineNote on our forum and:

Discord 

Matrix

Telegram

IRC

I talked to the good folks over at Destination Linux about the PineNote and our vision for this new hardware. During our chat we also talked about other PINE64 gear, including the PinePhone keyboard and much more. If you haven’t done so yet, follow this link to listen to the episode.

Before I wrap this section up let me clear one more thing up: I know that the introduction of the PineNote will lead people to think that other RK3566-based devices will follow shortly, but this isn’t the case. This isn’t the best time to introduce new devices in general, and certainly not ones based on a brand new SoC that is just undergoing a mainlining process. Just putting it out there to kill any unnecessary rumours.  

PinePhone: hardware

This month’s good hardware news doesn’t end with the announcement of the PineNote. The PinePhone keyboard has entered production and we expect to have it available in the Pine Store in late September. I’ve now had extensive hands-on time with the latest keyboard prototype and I am thrilled to let you know that it feels amazing. You know that I am always cautious and try to avoid ‘hyping’ our devices – but my choice of words here is quite deliberate, the keyboard feels amazing. The keys are sturdy, easy to plunge and have a satisfying amount of key travel. The pressure needed to plunge the keys is also equal across the entire keyboard. The product team and vendor really deserve a pat on the back, they’ve done a great job. I have a few small form-factor devices with keyboards, and I can say with confidence that this is the best I’ve felt; thumb typing on it is pure heaven.

I’ve been using the keyboard with Plasma Mobile for a couple of days and it has been a great experience so far

The keyboard has also received a lot of overall polish – the hinges have great resistance without feeling overly stiff (as was the case with previous prototypes), molding quirks have been worked out and the fit and finish is now great. The keyboard now also has a really nice matte black (and slightly textured) finish that doesn’t attract fingerprints. One notable difference from previous prototypes is the removal of LEDs in the upper right corner of the chassis. Personally I welcome this development, the LEDs were bright and given the small size of the keyboard they were quite prominent for a lack of better word. But I understand that some may feel otherwise about their removal. Under the hood the PCB has been significantly reworked: we tried to implement all the feedback we received from developers, last of which have been received hours before final PCB layout submission. I’d like to thank Megi, Martijn, smaeul, dsimic as well as others who spent time reviewing the hardware and suggesting improvements. Thanks guys!

A video showing the keyboard prototype in action – video by Martijn Braam

We have now also sent out back case samples to developers, settled on a wireless charging solution and managed to figure out a reliable way to flash the fingerprint-reader firmware at the factory. In result you can expect an introduction of the fingerprint reader and wireless charging back case in a matter of a few weeks, probably sometime in early October. The wireless charging chip is compatible with both Air Fuel and Qi Wireless charging solutions, and follows the Wireless Charging Consortium standard. This means that not only will the PinePhone charge (as you’d expect), but the chip will also allow us to have a charging rate read-out and control over the charging process itself via i2c. As for the fingerprint reader, the firmware and open software have now been sorted out, and it ought to be rather trivial to implement this functionality in existing PinePhone Linux distributions. As I mentioned in last month’s update, the LoRa back case add-on will need to wait a little bit, because we need software to work via i2c. But the good news is that both JF and Lup have received sample units to take a look at. 

Near final version of the wireless charging module (left) installed in the add-on back case (right)

Before I wrap this section up I wanted to ask: what other back cases would you like to see for the PinePhone? Any suggestions (barring NFC which we discarded for the time being) are welcome. We have some ideas of our own about what to explore once the current back case add-ons are released, but before I share with you what we’re considering I would appreciate hearing your ideas first – leave them in the comment section below.

PinePhone: Software

This section of the update was written by partner project developers and community contributors: Alfred (UBports), Dylan (postmarketOS), Peter (aka LinMob, the former PineTalk host and LINMOBapps maintainer), Chris ( aka. kop316, working on MMS and Visual Voicemail functionality) and Brian (aka. 33YN2, PINE64 moderator and community contributor).

Images and videos by authors / projects.

———

AlfredLet me start with Mirclient support. Ubuntu Touch on the PinePhone has always used Wayland for displaying app contents.This was quick to do for an initial bringup and the right step for future developments, but meant that certain functionality needed deep thought and reimplementation to allow the same experience across all supported types of devices and GPU driver stacks.

Due to the fact that we wanted to bring the same experience to PinePhone users as quickly as possible, we decided to bring Mirclient support to the PinePhone as an addition to Wayland. This practically means that Ubuntu Touch based on Ubuntu 20.04 will feature support for both apps that integrate well into the overall system as well as allowing Wayland-only apps to continue functioning properly. Wayland support will not go away and going full-on Wayland will be tackled after the Ubuntu 20.04 transition. This is a short-term solution to bridge the gap between the past and the future for both users and developers.

The next subject I want to tackle are trust prompts. The addition of Mirclient support in Ubuntu Touch 20.04 allowed us to bring one crucial feature to PinePhone users: Trust prompts. Trust prompts are a mechanism on Ubuntu Touch to securely ask a user for permissions to certain functionality, on behalf of the application. They slide up, stick above the application and wait for user interaction. If a user doesn’t want to allow an app recording audio then they are able to decide and change it later on. Integration into certain subsystems was necessary, from adapting almost-there Mir code to applying integration patches onto PulseAudio.This means that users can have a bit more trust in the platform as well as having their applications work properly.

Example of a trust prompt on Ubuntu Touch (left) and PinePhone running Ubuntu Touch 20.04 in convergence mode (right)

Ubuntu Touch 20.04 images should be available for the PinePhone soon and users will be able to switch to it either via the command line without losing their data or by reflashing their device.

Dylan: Almost every phone over the last two decades can be used in a car’s handsfree kit to make calls. Some of these handsfree kits also allow you to synchronize your contacts to the handsfree kit. This way, you can call your contacts through the handsfree kit without even touching your phone. However, that’s not the case with the PinePhone as it doesn’t support the required Bluetooth profile Phone Book Access Profile PBAP to achieve this. Fortunately, Bluetooth PBAP is supported by the BlueZ bluetooth stack using the OBEX daemon, but the PBAP code hasn’t been touched in almost 10 years!

I revived the BlueZ backend in the OBEX daemon to access the Evolution Data Server phonebook of the PinePhone (Phosh UI only) and submitted some patches upstream which will be available in the next BlueZ release. After applying these patches, your PinePhone can synchronize your contacts with any Bluetooth handsfree kit which can be found in cars!

Car handsfree working with the PinePhone, how cool is that?

Chris: While I have been steadily working to help finalize MMS support in Phosh, I am excited to show off another phone feature I have been working on: Visual Voicemail (VVM). For those not familiar with Visual Voicemail, it is a way to download and “view” voicemails instead ofdialing a number to listen to them.

I added support with two applications: Visual Voicemail Daemon (VVMd) and Visual Voicemail Player (VVM Player). VVMd is a user daemon that retrieves/stores Visual Voicemails from your carrier. VVMd is desktop environment neutral, so it should work with the desktop environment of your choice! While VVMd only has a plugin that works with the ModemManager telephony stack, I am happy to work with someone to add a plugin to support other telephony stacks, such as oFono. VVM Player is the GTK3 front end to VVMd. You can see screenshots here and here. You can also see a video of it in action below.

A demo of Visual Voicemail on the PinePhone

Right now, Visual Voicemail on the Pinephone is confirmed to work on T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile USA MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) , and AT&T USA. If you want to keep up with the development (or help out), feel free to join the Matrix Room (#opensourcemms:matrix.org) or the IRC channel (#opensourcemms on OFTC), which is bridged to Matrix. 

Peter: LINMOBapps now lists more than 300 apps for Linux smartphones now. Note that not all apps are packaged for your distribution, nor are they all what you would consider feature-complete. Also, the current technical implementation of the app list does not perform particularly well on the PinePhone (the performance is actually getting worse with every additional app), which is why I am looking to replace it with another solution. You can follow, join and help out the development on GitHub or wait for an early alpha version of the new implementation, which should be out later this month on alpha.linux phone apps.org.

Maybe its falls a bit short of the PlayStore selection, but boy is it an impressive and well documented list of Mobile Linux compatible apps

Brian: For those of you missing a way to share recordings of your PinePhone’s interface, or a way to share a recording from your camera, user u/UJC_theguy on the official PINE64 subreddit has shared his discovered method of recording video on the Pinephone at 1280×720 resolution and 30 fps. While it’s definitely not perfect, this is an excellent step towards video-recording on the PinePhone. Click here to learn more.

Pinebook Pro 

Pinebook Pro owners have a reason to rejoice: a new and much improved firmware for the trackpad has been released. The Pinebook Pro’s trackpad is, or rather was, the main complaint people always voiced about the laptop. It lacked precision, there was delay between the input and the cursor movement, and at times it would act up completely – causing the cursor to skip from one part of the screen to another. All these issues are now gone, and you don’t have to take my word for it – 77% of people who performed the update on their Pinebook Pro and filled in dsimic’s questionnaire rated the firmware as “feels nearly perfect”. 

The new touchpad firmware is a major improvement, and don’t take our word for it

The update process can be performed on any OS distribution and instructions for flashing are available for both Manjaro and Debian (and derivatives). I’d like to thank dsimic for his hard work on getting the new firmware bundled with the existing tools and writing up flashing instructions. He is currently also working on making the entire process more streamlined for end-users by making an attempt to package the firmware for fwupd. This will, hopefully, make the process trivial in the future. However, the current flashing process can be performed by just about anyone who is capable of following written instructions. So if you have a Pinebook Pro, I strongly advise you to carefully read dsimics firmware flashing thread on the forum and have a go at it. 

In other Pinebook Pro related news, graphics on the RK3399 might be seeing some major improvements in the next few months. Merged back in June and now released in Mesa 21.2 is a new Vulkan driver for Arm Bifrost and Midgard graphics called PanVK, and the new Mesa release now also includes OpenGL ES 3.1 support for Panfrost. It should be noted that PanVK is not yet conformant, and that the work on it is still in its early stages, but it is nevertheless very promising and with it being included in Mesa it should see more contributions.

Back in July Box64 was released as the new x86_64 emulator for ARM64. While the Pinebook Pro community did previously have Box86 for running x86 software on ARM, it only supported ARM32, meaning you had to run it within a container or on a multilib system. With Box64 however, it is now possible to run software compiled for desktops on ARM devices such as the Pinebook Pro without having to use containers or other trickery. Of course, this technology is not magic, and there is a loss of performance through such a layer, even with the technology that Microsoft (WoW64) or Apple (Rosetta 2) use in their operating systems.

Lastly, I want to give a quick update regarding Pinebook Pro availability (we know that many of you are waiting to get one): IPS panel prices have finally started to come down, but their price-point hasn’t yet reached a level where we could manufacture a new production run. That said, we’re hoping to see prices decrease further in the coming weeks, at which point we’ll start exploring the potential for producing another batch. In other words, there is a good possibility that we’ll see another large batch of Pinebook Pros produced before the end of this year. Keep your fingers crossed.

Box64 opens up many opportunities on the Pinebook Pro, such as playing X86 games – picture via Kirfkin on Twitter

PineTime [By JF]

The activity around the PineTime project is still going strong: InfiniTime released version 1.3 (and many new features are awaiting review), WaspOS features a new advanced alarm application, Siglo is available on Flathub, FitoTrack supports the PineTime out of the box and we have two iOS companion apps in the work.

Let’s start with InfiniTime. As announced in the last community update, the release of version 1.3 came with a new watch face named PineTimeStyle. It’s a nice and stylish watch face, which is directly inspired by a popular watch face from the Pebble smartwatches. Another new interesting feature from this version is the battery level notification – the watch periodically sends the battery level to the companion app. Gadgetbridge uses this feature to draw a nice graph representing the history of battery usage. Another great feature of this release is the integration of LittleFS. While not apparent to the end user, this small file system in the *huge* (4MB) external memory is the first step to new features requiring persistent storage: fitness data, more graphical content, more fonts, more languages, etc.

New watchface (which some of you may recognize from the Pebble) and improvements to existing applications in InfiniTime 1.3

While development has been slower these past few months, WaspOS has again still seen a few big improvements. Most notably Micropython was updated to 1.16, and the merging of the previously mentioned Advanced Alarm application has finally happened. The new alarm application will allow you to set multiple alarms on specific days of the week, and it also adds a snooze option. There was also a major memory improvement that frees up 10% more RAM in applications.

There is also good news concerning different companion apps for PineTime. First, Siglo, the GTK app allowing InfiniTime to sync the watch with mobile or desktop Linux, is now available on Flathub. This means it’ll install and run easily on any Linux distro that supports Flatpack, such as Fedora.

FitoTrack is a privacy oriented fitness tracker for Android in which you can log and view your workouts. It records GPS positions, speed, distance, kcal and displays nice stats and graphs about your workouts. It can also connect to BLE heart rate monitors to record your heart rate while you’re doing sports. The good news is that it implements the Heart Rate Profile standardized by the Bluetooth SIG, the very same protocol InfiniTime implements to expose heart rate data to the companion app. This allows FitoTrack and Infinitime to work together out of the box without needing any further work on either project. If you were looking for some motivation to exercise this is probably welcome news.

FitoTrack app for Android now works with InfiniTime on the PineTime

A couple weeks ago I posted a call for Apple/iOS developers. PineTime and InfiniTime have a growing user base, and some users would like to sync the watch with an iOS device. It seems that my call has been heard as I’ve recently learned that there are not one but two iOS applications in the works: Comosus Time by Jim and Infini-iOS by xan-m. These apps are still in early development stages but they already have features like time synchronization, battery level and heart rate monitoring and firmware update (OTA). Let’s us wish Jim and xan-m best of luck with their projects!

iOS companion apps for the PineTime are in the works – Comosus Time (left) and Xan-m (right)

Finally, I would like to share this demo from TT-392 showing Bad Apple playing on the PineTime! I was blown away when I saw this 3 minutes and 40 seconds video playing on the limited hardware of the watch. It reminds us how limitless a hackable device can truly be.

PineDio PineTime [By JF]

Last month we announced the PineDio Stack, an all-in-one development platform based on the BL604 RISCV MCU and the SX1272 Lora module, along with a LoRa back case for the PinePhone and many other LoRa devices.

A couple of days ago I received a nice parcel from Pine64 containing prototypes of these new LoRa devices: the PineDio Stack with a display, another PineDio Stack in a solar enclosure with a bigger battery, a LoRa USB adapter and a LoRa back case for the PinePhone. I’m sure you’re as excited as I am about these new devices, so let’s have a closer look at them!

The PineDio Stack is a development kit built around the Bouffalo BL604 MCU. This RISC-V processor is really similar to the BL602, except it has more I/O pins available. It runs at 192Mhz, has 2MB or flash memory, 278KB or RAM memory and supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 5.0. The PineDio Stack also provides LoRa connectivity via a SX1262 LoRa module. Finally, the stack is equipped with a display, a heart rate sensor, a motion sensor, a USB to Serial adapter, a USB-C port, a GPIO port, a JTAG port and a battery charging chip – basically all you need for your embedded and IoT project in 3.5cm2. I haven’t been able to check this board yet, but I plan on porting InfiniTime, the FOSS firmware for the PineTime on this board Soon®.

PineDio Stack front (left) and back (right) with JTAG, a battery and a PineTime display attached

The next item I want to show you is the solar enclosure for the PineDio Stack. It consists of a big solar panel, a large battery and the PineDio Stack with its LoRa module. With this device, in example. you will be able to build an autonomous LoRa base station

PineDio Stack solar panel case outside (left) and the internal component arrangement (right) (images of a prototype unit)

Last month, we also mentioned that the LoRa back case for the PinePhone was taking shape (but we still need an I2C driver to be able to use it from the Pinephone). Here’s a closer look at the back case and the LoRa adapter itself:

PinePhone add-on back case disassembled (left) and the PineDio LoRa add-on module (right)

From what I can tell, it’s based on the SX1262 LoRa module and an ATtiny64, acting as a bridge between the I2C bus of the Pinephone and the SPI bus for the LoRa module.

Finally, let me show you the Pine64 LoRa USB adapter. It’s also based on the SX1262 LoRa module and relies on a CH341 USB to Serial adapter to connect to a computer

USB PineDio LoRa adapter

In the next couple of weeks I’ll experiment, develop projects and provide feedback to PINE64 and to the community about these really exciting new devices.

That is all for this month. We’ll catch you all in September with more news, updates and announcements.

104 responses to “Introducing the PineNote”

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    Heat is a bit of an issue with a black phone. To get meaningful wattage you need to leave the device in full sun.

    Maybe if you did a panel in some sort of white ceramic backing material, or some kind of light colored aerated plastic with glass or rock fiber in it, or cornstarch, that had insulating properties, that covered all of the black housing when the phone is face-down. Would need a bunch of thermal testing. You don’t want the panel heating up the phone.

    Maybe a folding panel, that could stand off the phone body at a angle, block and also radiate heat from the phone. Like the keyboard.

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    That is actually a really good idea. Except that would require additional molding ($$$) and shipping batteries is such a pain in the behind 🙁 but thanks for the suggestion – I’ll most certainly pick the topic up with TL

    Bill Butter says:

    Maybe the thing to do is sell “Battery Cases” that are sold without batteries, and can hold several very common sizes of batteries, including the size that the pinephone already uses. In my case, I bought a second battery and I’ll switch when the phone starts to die.

    It would also be nice if it was designed so that regular cases could still fit on the back, and this case just sat in the middle, passing though the PoGo pins so you could use another case like the Wireless Charger.

    James Colton says:

    I second your thoughts there.

    Off topic, I do not get the value of a tiny mech keyboard when to me, it is mostly only usable while sitting and if I were sitting, I would rather use the regular sized USB keyboard that is in my backpack. Firmware and drivers for it are already done.

    Imagine the usability of the back cover keyboard when one is not at a table.

    Off topic, what I think would be very good to have is a regular sized keyboard with the dock included (HDMI, PD in, USB-C, USB-A) because that would remove the mess of dongling dongles and dongling wires. No numeric keypad on the board. And a tray on the back edge of the keyboard that can hold the PP horizontally. By the way, also no firmware and driver development needed in this solution because they already exist. I do not see a decent one of these on the market.

    Hi Lucasz!

    I know that shipping batteries is a pain from posts you have mentioned before, but allow me to share an experience with a similar type of product: a few years ago, Motorola had something called “Moto Mods”, which is the exact same concept as the add-on connector on the back of the Pinephone, and I bought the battery pack Moto Mod, and let me just say that is is the most helpful accessory I have *ever* bought for any cellphone in my life. And I have bought probably 35-40+ cellphones since around 1997.

    That is why I am so happy about the keyboard+battery addon to the Pinephone too, to me that looks like heaven, but a dedicated battery pack addon would also give those folks who are not interested in the keyboard, another option for an extra battery power too.

    I hope that feedback is helpful.

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    We definitely want to grow the back-cover range with time. I talked to TL as well as Dylan, and the battery back case idea (as good as it is) won’t happen because of the reasons I previously stated. Molding costs a lot of money and ultimately we’d have to figure out a battery that is easy to source locally by end-users (around the world). Mind you, this doesn’t mean it will never happen, just that it won’t happen right now. As for other ideas – once the current cases roll out, we’ll certainly want to offer more options 🙂

    Borislav Borisenko says:

    Hm, I’m really curious about that 60hz refresh rate for e-ink display on PineNote. Would that mean that it’s potentially capable of displaying videos/games/animations? I know that it’s not exactly suited for it and it would definitely hit it’s main sell-point – energy efficiency.
    But I don’t think I’ve ever hold a e-ink display with anything close to that refresh rate, so I’m curious if e-inks really reached the point where you can at a tolerable level watch videos/games/animations?

    Actually, 10+ Hz refresh rate is something I really wanna see on E-Ink displays – And I don’t know if that’s possible
    But hey, they say it’s 60 and I try to trust them 🙂 – I’m not sure if that is typical, but this display has only 16 levels of grayscale – which seems a bit low so that could be the reason for the display to be able to have 60Hz refresh rate, right? 😉

    I have a dasung e-ink monitor that I use to test my eyes, and you can watch videos on it, although I wouldn’t do it as I would be afraid to reduce its life expectancy. I use it mainly for coding.

    About the pinenote, I hope that it will not reflect too much the sun as it is the main issue that I have with the Dasung screen (and I’m never good to put correctly the sticker to prevent that).

    It’s really nice but indeed really expansive (I’ve paid quite big custom fees). I’m my case I think it really worths it because I’ve often migraines, and e-ink is resting my eyes/head and often avoid to make it worst (screen, and specially white light often make the thing bad).

    I’m only using it from time to time when I need to rest, but when I do I use it as my main screen. I mostly spend my time in terminal in vim, and it’s comfortable to read text on the web too (it’s good to have an extension to invert color when it’s a dark theme, or use the browser read mode). For the terminal I have a script which switch theme of all my opened terminals to have a white background (I’m using dark background on normal screen).

    There is no black screen transition as you can see on many e-reader, and I’m using it on Arch Linux with KDE via the HDMI port. My main complain is that the screen is too reflective, and that can make it sometime difficult to read (there was a screen cover to make it less reflective, but I’m not at putting them and I add to remove it due to annoying air bubbles). A backlight would be nice too.

    Overall I’m happy with it, and have no regret after several years of use. For development with Vim or similar + browser for doc, it’s really adapted device. That’s why I’m really interested in the pinenote: for somebody with migraine it may be a relief (specially with backlight, some power and keyboard).

    By the way, I’ve written this comment on the e-ink screen.

    if the pine note could function as a (usb c) display for the pinephone with keyboard would be a great combo for travel, or run vnc wireless on it.

    PineNote is definitely going to be way more powerful than the pinephone. Could function as a display using usb c, but would probably work better as the hardware driving your session, with the pinephone plugged in as a storage device, so you can share folders etc. Dunno if there’s a protocol for two devices to operate as one serverspace over usb, but that would allow you in theory to use the pinephone userland you’re acustomed to and have your apps on, in the beefed up hardwareland of the PineNote.

    Arm and phone firmware dont really allow for crossplatform booting, so any ideal solution is going to be a bit more involved. But there is a lot of server software out there to coordinate the efforts of multiple kernels on multiple SoCs to collaborate together. Even a simple server/client relationship between the PinePhone and the PineNote might mean most of the important computation can be put onto the PineNotes powerful RK3699.

    Any ideal solution would work that way, tho; run most computational or graphical tasks on the RK3699.

    Usually PizzaLovingNerd’s monthly videos are uploaded to the Pine64 Peertube channel, but I don’t see this one. Are there plans to upload it, or is it going to be YouTube-only?

    Darkdragon says:

    Would be nice if PineNote would feature a modem with eSIM/eUICC to use it on the go (this is where the low power e-ink makes a lot of sense, at home I can have my way more powerful laptop plugged in).

    PineNote: finally an e-ink device! exciting to see that there is already a prototype! 10″ display = excellent! I will buy one. However, for a device that is not small I think it lacks some functionality/features (that also exists already in other PINE64 products making the PineNote out of place by lacking them…). So I strongly wish the PineNote to have:
    – physical buttons (like Enter, Prev, Next). I’m very happy with the amazing buttons that the old M92 have (even a joystick! see https://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Boox_M92 )
    – a microSD slot (I like it on PinePhone. It exists also in PineTab and PineBook Pro. Why PineNote is left out? Not good.)
    – a headphone jack (same comment as above).

    PineNote + PinePhone + PinePhone keyboard: it would be great if the keyboard could be switched (wirelessly) between the PP and PN (like using bluetooth to export the keyboard to PN or other computers.. ?).

    Harry Miktarian says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the request for an SD card slot and headphone jack for the PineNote. Physical buttons would be nice as well, but I could live without them.

    Jakub Narębski says:

    Is SD card slot really needed with 128 GB SSD? I agree with the request for TSSR combo headphone jack for PineNote… though it is probably less necessary than for PinePhone.

    There’s ALWAYS a need for an SD slot! If at all possible, a bootable one (I have no idea if the RK3566 has the same dual boot capability as the A64, though). I may be wrong, but it looks like the flash is soldered on (one of the 2 chips by the CPU?), so there will be no easy service or update path like the socketed eMMC chip on the PineTab.

    Anything that can be done to reduce wear on the soldered-on flash would be welcome.

    Does this matter for an e-reader? Maybe not. On the other hand, flash is one of only two component on the system that is has a known finite life (the other is the battery, and that looks readily replaceable).

    Looks like the layout is fixed now, though. Perhaps the USB-C board could be expanded to take a slot (but then there would have to be either some kind of usb-hub chip included as well?).

    Acinonyx Jubatus says:

    PinePhone cases:
    -battery case
    -solar panel case
    -metal case with a thermal pad (thermal pad to transfer the heat between the quectel modem and the case) for cooling (maybe a version with water block because 40nm chips may need it :D)
    -loudspeaker case with great audio quality
    -powerful torch case
    -sliding keyboard case (older phones had these :))
    -electroshock weapon case (with supercapacitors)
    -lighter case…
    -antenna case for better cellular signal strength

    I Don’t know how these cases work (I’m not sure about bandwidth of these pogo pins), but I was also thinking about strange cases like:
    -external GPU case
    -epic camera set case
    -tiltable screen case (maybe with E-Ink display for “always on display” without draining the battery)
    -dock case (case with USB connectors, ethernet, HDMI etc. – BUT ON A CASE xD)
    -external drive case

    Was too afraid to mention the same ideas. Solar powered back case, battery case, a phone stand, better led light or ambient led strips.
    Also keyboard that detaches like the Samsung Galaxy S8 keyboard cover or like this concept: https://mobile.twitter.com/FOSSingularity/status/1411181262933475336

    However, I am sure the PinePhone will stay most of the time in its Keyboard accessory, so what I would wish is an easier docking mechanism to put out from the keyboard. Something like a smaller emergency cover where you don’t have to fear losing the battery when taking the phone out from its keyboard case.
    A case with a door to access the DIP switches without talking the case of, like someone already 3d printed.

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    – battery case – maybe, there are logistics + molding issues with it, but it is a good idea
    – solar panel case – too small surface area which your greasy hands will smudge in no time, doesn’t make sense
    – metal case – nope, would prevent antennas from working
    – loudspeaker case – interesting …
    – powerful torch – nah, who actually needs that? the torch on the PP is actually fairly powerful already
    – sliding keyboard case – one day, creating those things costs a fortune
    – lighter case – uhm …
    – antenna case – I haven’t really seen people complain about signal strength to be honest
    – ext GPU – nope, impossible
    – camera set – nope, unless thermal cams
    – e-ink panel – nah …
    – dock case – over i2c protocol? like a break-out board just in a case? (someone made a break out board some time back) also why if you can just use the USB-C dongle?
    – external drive case – just use a SD, a drive would likely not even power from the battery… and if it would, battery would be drained in no time.

    Thanks for the updates, the Pinenote looks really exciting and I would like to see a keyboard extension too. Any news for the Pinecube? No news for a couple of months, I have the feeling that the development there is on hold, is it?

    Honestly, the PineTab is a nearly perfect device for musicians, especially if CPU throttling can be done to drive the battery life to its longest possible state.

    While it won’t have Forescore (as that’s iOS-only) it’s trivial to import a bunch of PDFs and display them on-screen; just needs a simple interface to swipe back and forth, and viola-page turning!

    Hopefully the cover of the e-ink screen will be matted instead of gloss, so that there’s minimal reflection under lights or in sunlight. that would make it perfect for a music-stand device anywhere.

    Dustin Maki says:

    I’m not a musician, but if your sheet music is on a device, couldn’t it just listen to the notes you play and turn or scroll the page automatically. It should know how long each note takes to play, so the rate of scrolling could be a cue to keep you on tempo.

    Jakub Narębski says:

    There are quite a number of paperlike screen protectors; not all of them reduce the glare, unfortunately, but from what I have seen in a video review of different types of such products ESR Paper-Like Screen Protector do reduce the glare, while not reducing the quality of the display thanks to being thin.

    Jakub Narębski says:

    > that would make it perfect for a music-stand device anywhere.

    Music stands can hold 2 pages of A4 paper (roughly the letter size, a bit smaller than legal size) in portrait orientation, which gives overall A3 size – this is 4 times the area of 10.3″ display, which is the size of A5 paper (a common notebook size).

    As for turning pages: there exist Bluetooth wireless pedals, which I assume are intended for this or similar use cases (though not all instruments can use them).

    > Music stands can hold 2 pages of A4 paper […]

    Ayup, but they don’t handle >100 pages of songs, in different playlist order, or the ability to create new playlists quickly, or look up a randomly called-out song that you haven’t rehearsed in ages. 🙂

    I’ve got about 2000 songs on my iPad, mostly chord charts, about half with lyrics.

    I don’t often play off of a score, and as you noted, this form factor is too small to do that well.

    cameronnemo says:

    Would be interesting to see a micro HDMI port on the pine note. The device might have a good convergence story with one. E ink when on the go, and an external LCD when you need to sit down and type something out.

    Also it would be super cool if there were some way to throttle charging dynamically at runtime, so that the device can preserve the battery health by not charging above a certain threshold. I know that may not be straightforward to implement, but it would improve the longevity of the device.

    Excellent work, everyone! The PineNote is exciting, and the progress on all of these devices is really incredible.

    Small typo: in “T-Mobile USA NVMOs” the acronym should be “MVNOs” (mobile virtual network operators).

    Some case ideas:
    * battery bank case, maybe also a powerbank for other devices;
    * multimedia case, has an m.2 SSD slot (or 2), with ports for audio and HDMI (or 2);
    * rugged/waterproof case, if it was somehow usable underwater that’d be sweet.
    * super high quality camera case;
    * wallet case with slots for cards and money

    Ken D'Ambrosio says:

    TAKE MY MONEY.
    No, really.
    I’ve been after an e-ink device — UI be damned — that I could use an external keyboard with. When hiking, active matrix displays on phones and tablets just don’t cut it. Not a week ago, on $OTHER_EREADER_VENDOR’s site, I said I’d order the next day if they worked with an external keyboard.
    And yours will.
    Perfectly happy with a Linux console; I can totally make that work.

    Wow! The announcement of the PineNote blew me away.

    I’m looking at the development of eInk note taking devices for years, especially the reMarkable looks very good, but i hate the closed nature of those products.

    The PineNote finally looks like an open device that don’t limit the users. But it needs intuitive software to be useful. Hardware alone is not useful for end users.

    As a demo i would like to see the playback of youtube and CS:GO streamed from a PC (or another action game)!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RQFYVfIgz0

    If the device would have GPS it could be used as a digital map.

    A killer feature would be a HDMI port to connect your notebook and use it as display, like the Dasung Paperlike Pro and Onyx Boox Max have.

    Doesn’t usb-c pipe video? or is that just thunderbolt/usb-c? I know my external touch display has both miniHDMI and usb-c video pipes.

    I’m already seeing the portable travel notebook/tablet iwth keyboard & eink, while docked at home as a vim terminal window use case in everyones minds. While the software may be a bit behind schedule with the PineNote, the potential of device of this caliber is really profound, beyond just linux nerds. Its viable for many people as a *solves that odd hardware problem that nothing else really solves* use case.

    I can imagine it as a iPad replacement for many coffee tables. Also a viable device for many business uses. Put a simcard in it, it becomes spectacularly useful as a batterylife tablet for every imaginable use. Its almost the perfect device, I hope they don’t limit it too much by underbuilding the feature set.
    I do think it should be an elegant formfactor tho, id rather not have a miniHDMI port on it, just video through usb-c.

    USB-C is simply a physical connection standard. It has no inherent capabilities. What can be done over the port is up to the capabilities of the device at each end and the particular cable in between. Simply saying something has a USB-C port really says nothing much of what it can do.

    Jacek Litwin says:

    It’s wonderful that you are showing new products, but I have a lot of doubts about the point. I bought a PinTeab once, the WiFi – Bluetooth module is damaged. I can not buy a damaged item on my own, we have a zero support store. What’s next? Damaged equipment without support is unnecessary for me. Will it be the same with the new ones?

    Matthew Petry says:

    Hi, thanks for the interest!

    It’s probably a little early to be planning on review units. We still have several months of software development ahead of us before the PineNote will be ready for end use as an e-reader (or for notetaking or etc…) Once we have consumer-grade units available, this is something that we can come back to.

    Jakub Narębski says:

    While for me reviews on Goodereader YouTube channel lack detail and depth (that I find for example in My Deep Guide reviews), I can confirm that the website is an _excellent_ source of information about e-ink devices (not only e-readers).

    Ron Betzen says:

    It would be great if the fingerprint scanner and wireless charger could be combined on the same back cover if that’s possible.

    Greetings,

    There is a growing demand for Viber support on the PinePhone. Can the users expect Viber to be supported in the near future? Willing to donate to see that happen.

    pinenote is a wrong way. sorry buy e-ink is not for reading and writing.
    What about mirasol?

    P.S. Please More information about PineDio. It working? Is small device planning like gotenna or pylife? Where a independent test in real urban enviroment?

    Jason Riedy says:

    While I would love to see color (DES slurry), having something that is supported in the kernel is even more important to me. I don’t want to blow $500 (the color e-ink prices, it seems) on a device that has no updates and isn’t self-maintainable.

    Where does the line for early adopters start? I’m there.

    Also, RISC-V + LoraWAN!!!??!!! Bee hive monitors on (mostly) open hardware! woo-hoo! (See bees.gatech.edu for some people interested.) I hope the gateway “kit” is less expensive than the current offerings out there.

    Heimen Stoffels says:

    Can’t wait to order the PinePhone keyboard! Quick question though: will it soon be possible to order the PinePhone and PineTime together? ‘Cause I’d love to order a PineTime as well, but the shipping costs are so high 🙁 If I could order the PinePhine and PineTime together, the shipping costs wouldn’t be an issue.

    I will wait for a better layout and more keys, meybe in future pine team add potenciometer for volume or keys on edge enclosure

    Dustin Maki says:

    People with low vision would appreciate a PineNote with phone capability. Not just LTE data, but voice as well. I can barely read anything on my hidef phone screen. A large high contrast phone/terminal/notepad would be the only device I carry around. Yes, its a little weird to put something that big next to your head, but only because you aren’t used to it. Giant phones do work. People don’t use voice often now, but when you need it, nothing else will do. This would be a revolutionary enabling technology for a growing segment of the population.

    Jakub Narębski says:

    I have very recently bought Onyx Boox Note Air e-ink Android 10 tablet, and only began to use it. It uses octa-core CPU, but it has less memory (3 GB LDDPR4X RAM and 32 GB eMMC SSD, vs PineNote 4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD)… though how much space would be taken by the operating system and the applications?.

    ~~The specs for e-ink display looks very similar to Onyx Boox Note e-ink tablets: does PineNote use E-Ink Carta HD or E-Ink Mobius display, or is it something different?~~ <– from the specs it looks like it is E-Ink Carta HD (the glass one). Would you perhaps consider bw+color e-ink display, for example 10.1" DES Slurry E-Paper display that Reinstone R1 tablet supposedly uses, or E-Ink Kaleido display (like Bigme B1 Pro), or would it make the device too expensive? It is nice that it has G-sensor for (optional) automatic display rotation.

    Does USB support OTG and USB audio? ~~Is there a Bluetooth (for connecting headphones, or wireless keyboard)?~~ <– I see that wiki says that it would have Bluetooth 5.0 support.

    Is the PineNote WACOM stylus a passive stylus or active stylus, and does it require batteries or does it include rechargeable battery? If it is powered by internal rechargeable battery, does it use the same USB connector as the tablet? Does the EMR layer detect pressure, and does it detect tilt (the latter is quite rare, though reMarkable 2 supposedly detects tilt angle… or was it Ratta Supernote?).

    A few of those e-ink tablets use Linux-based operating systems; if I remember it correctly reMarkable is one. I wonder if you could get some information thanks to GPL.

    There are quite a few electronic book lending services, where you can read books for free via your local library or school, like OverDrive or (here in Poland) Legimi and IBUK Libra. Though not all of them have a Linux app, though fortunately most of them have a web version (I have not checked if it works off-line). I wonder if it would be difficult to integrate some way of running Android apps on PineNote. The multi-user capabilities of Linux would certainly help for the device to be used by multiple people.

    I WOULD ADORE TILT SUPPORT.

    OMG!! Color would be nice, but tilt support would make this a really fantastic sketchbook. Between use as an eink vim terminal with keyboard support, and tilt support on with wacom styluses, this little device could absolutely find a spot in nearly everyone’s device collection.

    For the PineNote there’s already a great eInk and touch focused reader with an active dev community (consistent monthly bug and feature releases) and native Linux support: https://koreader.rocks/ That leaves you all to focus on the OS and drivers and ancillary programs.

    Jakub Narębski says:

    Thanks for pointing out the KOReader app. I see it is also available on Android as sideload, but also via F-Droid (though it seems to be lagging 2 versions behind, if I understand it correctly), but not via Google Play Store.

    I wonder how well this app handles footnotes and tables, and switching from portrait to landscape. The NeoReader that Onyx Boox devices use has annoyingly small touch target for footnotes, which additionally interferes with touch-based page turning (meaning that I try to check out the footnote, and end going to the next page or the previous page).

    What is needed for PineNote is a good note-taking / drawing application, a bit similar to Microsoft OneNote (though without their annoying quirks, and without the abysmal seconds long lag between stylus input and the drawing appearing – like for their OneNote “Android” app on Onyx Boox Note Air), and perhaps also a good e-ink focused calendar app (making good use not only of the touch screen, but also of the digital stylus). Maybe someone knows of such apps for Linux.

    pinenote with same pogo pins as pinephone for pin compatible extensions. I like to see uSD slot, and 3.5mm jack if possible, altough BT audio and usbC memory plug can be used of couese.

    Jason Riedy says:

    Combine the PineNote with the LoRaWAN extension above and you could have a *wonderful* interactive educational display. (Yeah, overpriced compared to one Pi-like handling a few lower-res e-ink screens while getting sensor data coming in vi LoRaWAN, but a fun idea…)

    Shawn Rutledge says:

    Yes please, let’s have pogo pins with USB on the side of the PineNote, so that it can be set down in landscape mode on top of a custom keyboard (which I’d probably build, because I want an ergo mechanical keyboard), and presto, it’s a sunlight-friendly laptop. Even nicer would be some cutout sleeves for some sort of metal arms that could hold it in place above the keyboard, like on the old Thinkpad Helix design. Just have the cutouts and pogo contacts and let the community design the rest.

    A few buttons would be nice, for page-turns and other purposes.

    It needs a silo to store the stylus, if you can find a stylus thin enough to fit.

    But Wacom EMR technology is passive; if your stylus has an LED, that means it needs a battery too, which is unfortunate and should be avoidable. Probably it’s not really EMR then, but AES? Does it reuse the conductive matrix of the touchscreen? (also not EMR, in that case) Again, the Thinkpad Helix had a true EMR stylus… but mine quit working. Galaxy Note had EMR (the first model anyway, not sure about newer ones). The stylus for the Remarkable does not require batteries, so I guess it’s EMR. Newer touchscreen tablet computers all tend to use either nTrig or AES.

    stan423321 says:

    PineNote accessory concept of usefulness dependent on actual screen characteristics:
    Strips of LEDs framing the screen. This would allow some dynamic visual output in spite of not refreshing the main display. Although software support could be annoying to implement.
    Frame layout specific example uses: cursor, caret, text range selection visualization (initial?)
    General example uses: music playback progress, notifications if enabled

    A keyboard would be useful as well. Maybe back buttons layer, or a keypad that could hang behind the screen?

    You guys really Rock! The open e-ink device is really a dream come true for me. I can’t wait for the day that I can use it as my main e-reader, other computing. I wish I could help with development, but I fear that I would only hinder development with the lack of skills that I have in programming.

    Thank you all and thank you to the devs that will make this all a reality!

    I really like the PineNote, the only thing I really would like to see added is an internal GPS, the reason I have is: there are plenty off hikers, campers, off grid people that could use a low powered device that shows location in a map software, able to read books, possibly use a LoRa module. Anyways thank you for your time, the development and devices.

    Will there be different keyboard layouts available? Or do you plan to stick with only the English language one. I don’t mind rearranging the keyboard keys physically to try my best to match with the standard keyboard (even if some language-specific characters won’t be printed on the key where they would be assigned to) When the PinePhone keyboard case arrives, how can we change the keyboard layout software-wise with the given factory firmware?

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    You can rearrange keys very easily. As for other language options, we may consider selling language-specific caps at some point. These will be sold separately however.

    why not one big set of keycaps for all language region
    for example: esperanto,czech,polish, deutch
    russian,ukrainian (grażdanka) itp. in other.
    french, spanish ….

    or european, asia, india and korean etc.

    and of course in 2 different color 😉

    (P.S. Za mało klawiszy!)

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    Why would you make e.g. a German speaker pay for Polish, French or Danish key caps? 🙂 It just doesn’t make sense …

    Thanks, so at first it is English US keycaps. Once they are available, would order local language keycaps in combination with other non-battery Pine64 items.

    I looked up specs of the CPU, which is planned to be in the PineNote
    If I remember correctly, It should be Quad-core Cortex A-55 @1.8GHz (chip capable of 2.0 GHz); made by 22nm technology

    These specs made me think about the Cortex A-53 used in PinePhone – That’s a 40nm chip, that can make the whole PinePhone (including the LCD panel, modem etc.) easily eat over 5 Watts and drain the battery very quickly.

    Is there a plan to make a new hardware revision featuring this or any other more powerful CPU & GPU? I think that would be highly appreciated 🙂 (otherwise, It would be VERY cool to have just more powerful version with better and more cameras, AMOLED display and so on – but I know, that making absolutely new phone is very challenging and time consuming)

    Doubt we’ll see a PinePhone Pro until at least 2024.
    There are huge gaps in software that make a flagship style linux phone really unviable. For people in the US there is the Librum 5, which is painfully overpriced and not much more powerful. There’s Volla Phone which is teamed up with Ubuntu Touch and has pretty impressive specs, but is an indygogo/kickstarter. For people in the EU there is the FairPhone, which I quite adore, entirely end user repairable, modular and also has an Ubuntu Touch option.

    The main problem with flagship level phones is that linux mobile has no apps. Theres no software support outside of a clunky version of firefox and very basic phone apps, like calling and text.

    The thing about the PinePhone that makes it so exciting is that the entry point price is 150$, that puts it in reach of nearly everyone! Makes it a viable secondary phone while the software catches up to what is expected in a daily driver device. Makes it a viable daily driver for entry level purchasers the world over who would otherwise be looking at buying a moto G or E or another budget device. Its not there yet, but a phone that can be used as a laptop is actually quite appealing as a cost saving choice for people might otherwise be limited to choosing between two hardware options.

    The PinePhone really is the perfect device, for developers, for adoption, for scale and viability. I wouldn’t worry about the PinePhone Pro, the groundwork for it is being laid by the PineNote, but it will be several years before it makes sense to start designing it. I think the software support for hardware and app support will be mature by around 2024.

    Ubuntu and Google are teaming up to bring Flutter Support to Linux, its mainly focusing on Desktop linux, but Flutter is a cross platform app deployment framework. Mainstream app support is coming to linux! (Ubuntu touch is a community driven effort separate from Ubuntu, but this is promising!)

    The software necessary for a flagship linux phone is not impossibly far away, but it is still several years away. Until then the PinePhone is definately the most fun device, good for many uses beyond a daily driver cellphone.

    Cheers!

    Is the pinephone capable to emit enough light to see the keys of the keyboard? Or does somebody know a very short or angled led dongle one could attach to the phone’s or keyboard’s USB-C connector?

    I mean, You can use a cable (or a metal paper clip), buy some things like LEDs and USB-C connectors and solder it together, right? 🙂

    Contrary to you, I find the task to build a USB-C pluggable light source, similar to Lenovo Thinklight, but with an adjustable angle too difficult to do on my own. Nice to hear, you find it an easy task. You could built it and offer your prototype/product as a Pine64 Store item.

    Hello guys, I am SO excited for all of these big updates!! Especially the LoRa options, and I love that you decided to make a high-end e-ink device, eInk devices are NOTORIOUSLY slow for some bizarre reason, I guess they assume people will only use them for books or slow things that don’t need a faste processor? Full desktop Linux with an e-Ink display for insane battery life and less eye strain would be incredible!!

    You guys are contributing to accelerating the exciting LoRa tech’s adoption, that is great. Having a small community where for example PGP messages can be sent to each other for private communication *without the need for any 3rd party*, or create a solar-powered mesh network far away from the city where there is not internet or bad signal/can be used in case of emergency, makes me so excited.

    P.S.: Thank you for posting on the LBRY network (Odysee is one front end option for the LBRY network). LBRY is the future for open source, free speech social media platforms. I love that you can post not just videos like YouTube, but also things like audio-only, photos, text articles, eBooks, and even 3D models. Plus 0% fee for crypto donations…so go give Pine64 a tip guys! 🙂

    One other quick thing: once they are ready for launch, could you guys make some kind of mega-bundle for all of the LoRa items, for those of us who want to buy ALL of the LoRa related devices and accessories? 🙂

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    We usually don’t like doing bundles, but for this item it may make sense (except for the PinePhone back case – not everyone has a PinePhone)

    Motorola’s “Moto Mods” has a very similar idea with an addon connector in the back of the phone. Here are some ideas from addons that they released themselves, and a couple 3rd party ideas:

    -full-size digital camera addon upgrade

    -360 degree camera

    -extra large speakers addon upgrade w/ built in stand

    -Battery pack addon: multiple sizes (which was AMAZING!)

    -Movie projector with stand

    -Wireless charging addon

    -Car mount case

    -Video game controller case addon

    -5G antenna upgrade addon

    -Polaroid photo printer addon

    I do of course understand that some of these are not feasible due to the complex software that would be needed, but just wanted to at least share the ideas.

    For future Pinephone backcases, my greatest desire would be a dual-SIM option.

    Otherwise, I second the requests for an extended battery pack option.

    Perhaps, both being offered as a 2in1 configuration. 😉

    Cheers

    I can’t consider buying the pinenote since it doesn’t have a microSD slot. I need somewhere to put my 200GB of ebooks, B/W comics, mangas…
    It was almost the device that I’ve been searching for a long time.
    So frustrating.

    PineNote looks so amazing. I also want to say I think everything you’re doing is amazing, and thank you.

    My comments on this wonderful device:

    I currently use the Hisense A5 as my cell phone. I am low vision and have extreme color-temperature based light sensitivity. I can use a normal cell phone with a blue light filter like Twilight, but I often see the back lighting as a three dimensional box complete with perspective, and its angles change when I move the cell phone. It does look cool, but for reasons I don’t understand, is a little painful and aggravates migraines.

    PineNote could be absolutely life changing tech for me.

    Some things I would love, be so grateful for there are no words, if added to PineNote:

    Please make it possible to use as a cell phone.
    Please give it an adjustable amber light that goes from whatever normal people like down to 800k and turns off completely.
    Please find a way to make the KDE font adjustment more like the JWM/ROX desktop font adjustment available in Puppy Linux. Puppy Linux Global Font Settings has the best system-wide adjustment of fonts of any distro/desktop I’ve tried.
    -It works for every website for browsers!!! This must save me 1000s of clicks a month on the browser zoom settings.
    -It works evenly across menus, which is something I haven’t seen in other distros.
    -It works in the Terminal, which I also have not seen in a lot of distros.
    I really wish KDE font settings worked more like that. I do like that you can make them bold in KDE. KDE has a nightlight feature that I absolutely need, that the JWM/Rox combination lacks for my hardware on the more functional Puppies. Because of that and a few other reasons, Manjaro KDE is my current daily driver, with a 27″ ASUS eyecare monitor.

    If it has these features, I will race to be your first customer, use it almost everything, show my family and friends, and buy t-shirts to advertise it to strangers.

    Love,
    Chloe

    PS Puppy linux isn’t my website, it’s all of our website. Puppy Linux. Resistance is futile.

    Wrt PineNote: Why the restriction to just 4GB?

    The rk3566 permits 8GB, as also shown with the quartz64, and while the standby time will be somewhat reduced with increasing RAM, it would place way less restrictions on “non-eInk-reader” usage and going crazy maybe with a stand and a bluetooth keyboard.

    Just think of proper convergence with actual none-too-CPU-hungry _big_ Desktop apps with their RAM use, say gimp or firefox with the same amount of tabs opened as on your desktop. Or some containerized stuff.

    Heck, even Android smartphones go absurd with more than 8GB RAM while still lacking any usecase for that much RAM other than their _crippled_ convergence (due to the inability to run actual desktop applications).

    IMHO it doesn’t make much sense to not offer at least one version of the PineNote with maxed-out RAM.

    I just want a couple, maybe 4, extra usb-c ports and another, maybe two, sd card slots on the back that I don’t have to pry the thing open to access.

    Seems like the camera, when it’s not especially high quality, is more of an auxiliary thing rather than a central thing and belongs on a back panel module, but I understand you probably get the parts on an integrated board at a lower cost than you would a custom part produced in low volumes without them, and they’re not adding size or weight, and they’re added value anyway, and the drivers get tested when ports come to the phone. I do just turn them off, and I only want a high quality back panel camera.

    Fredrik Karlsson says:

    Will there be both ANSI and ISO keyboard versions available for the next -as you phrased it- big batch of the pinebook pro?

    Lukasz Erecinski says:

    Very likely yes. However, many fewer ISO units will be built. It is yet uncertain whether the production will resume – component shortages are sadly said to continue into late 2022

    Abdulmujeeb Raji says:

    Hi all,

    I was wondering what type of firmware/software the PineNote will be running. I hope to make a note-taking application that syncs all your notes to a Git or Mecurial Repository after saving them. I think the PineNote could be really useful for note-taking or use in educational environments and being able to write programs for it would be a dream.

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