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Jornada 720/8 hardware retrofit

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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-12-19 10:15 PM
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I wish I had ArchiMark's positive outlook on Planet Computer, but I can't muster it anymore. Their communication is awful, to the point of arrogance, considering there's no brick-and-mortar (or even a company phone?) to stop in or call to ask what's going on. Timely updates--even if they're only about shipping delays--would go a long way to maintain customer confidence.

As for the still-missing Linux OS, that's inexcusable. PC obviously had time on their hands, considering the frozen shipments, so why not spend it developing what they promised in the first place? I'm assuming that at least PC has a couple of Astros at hand.

I bought the Gemini and the Cosmo. Both had hardware issues--especially the Cosmo, forcing its long return to London--and now there are no batteries available for the devices (they share the same battery). PC will charge 75 pounds plus s/h for a battery replacement but you have to ship the phone, they won't sell you the battery outright, and the batteries can't be found elsewhere.

Until PC sorts itself out, they've lost my business. If I go for a kb phone, I might look at the Fxtec Pro1 or its subsequent brethren. Not as nice a kb, but surely better service, considering how low the bar has been set.

I understand Covid/China production delays, but PC could've done so much better in every other category.

Jake
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2022-12-19 10:27 PM
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Ouch, I rather hope that they read this Jake. I can see that you are pretty angry.
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-12-19 11:21 PM
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Aside from Astro's difficulties (there are substantial hardware complaints over at OESF), it's the battery supply issue of the Gem/Cosmo that's so vexing.

We legacy users know that our ebay-ed J's, etc will arrive with poor or no battery because the machines are 20+ years, not a >3 Cosmo.

Also, the British postal system is an unfamiliar animal for us drooling Yanks, So when I mailed back the Cosmo, identifying it as a broken phone, I insured it for $300usd. That set off all kinds of alarms in the London post office, and I ended up paying ANOTHER 75 pounds just to get it out of customs.

I understand that PC doesn't make postal rules, but again, communication would've helped the international buyer. Of course, there's the rub: do you tell your customers not to insure, just cross fingers? That does not invite post-sales confidence, either.

PC gets around the initial VAT by shipping from China, but if I send my battery-dead Gem/Cosmo back for London repair, I'd have to close my eyes and hope for the best because 150 pounds for each VAT/battery replacement is not worth it, given the already-shaky hardware.

It's a First World problem, so I try to be more disappointed than angry. Then again, if your customers aren't angered, that doesn't mean you should disappoint them instead

Jake
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2022-12-19 11:37 PM
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Jake - 2022-12-19 2:15 PM

I wish I had ArchiMark's positive outlook on Planet Computer, but I can't muster it anymore.

[SNIP.....]

Jake



To clarify, I am not saying that I think Planet is doing a great job, certainly not in the past 3 years.

All I am saying that:

1. They did provide me with the Astro in June and it works fine.

2. I did receive my Cosmo and Gemini and they worked fine for me. Although I do understand that you've had problems, which is not good.

3. They don't control the factory in China. Given the handling of the pandemic by Chinese government it's not even the factory that can control production.
As an aside, I will say that with China's government policies, I am probably not going to buy equipment from China anymore. I don't like idea of supporting them and their horrible, repressive policies.

4. Agree that Planet has done a lousy job for some months, communicating with all the backers.

5. With their current skeleton staff, I'm leery of their ability to do software updates, bug fixes, and have a linux release available to everyone. Think someone over at OESF.org forums has done their install.

So, think you can see I don't have a rosy picture of Planet....but I do think that there have been some conditions since covid arose that they cannot realistically have much control over.

Hope this is clear.

Just my 2 cents...



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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2022-12-19 11:44 PM
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Jake - 2022-12-19 3:21 PM

Aside from Astro's difficulties (there are substantial hardware complaints over at OESF), it's the battery supply issue of the Gem/Cosmo that's so vexing.

We legacy users know that our ebay-ed J's, etc will arrive with poor or no battery because the machines are 20+ years, not a >3 Cosmo.

Also, the British postal system is an unfamiliar animal for us drooling Yanks, So when I mailed back the Cosmo, identifying it as a broken phone, I insured it for $300usd. That set off all kinds of alarms in the London post office, and I ended up paying ANOTHER 75 pounds just to get it out of customs.

I understand that PC doesn't make postal rules, but again, communication would've helped the international buyer. Of course, there's the rub: do you tell your customers not to insure, just cross fingers? That does not invite post-sales confidence, either.

PC gets around the initial VAT by shipping from China, but if I send my battery-dead Gem/Cosmo back for London repair, I'd have to close my eyes and hope for the best because 150 pounds for each VAT/battery replacement is not worth it, given the already-shaky hardware.

It's a First World problem, so I try to be more disappointed than angry. Then again, if your customers aren't angered, that doesn't mean you should disappoint them instead

Jake


Yikes!

Or Crikey, as C:Amie would probably say......

I truly sympathize with all you've been through and totally agree that it's a bad situation, customer service-wise and otherwise!

Guess I've just been lucky with my Planet devices......

I must be living right or something....

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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-12-20 3:27 AM
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Mark, isn't GPD based in Hong Kong, which is more of a victim than perpetrator these days? But your purchasing point is well-taken with regard to Chinese politics. Not all buyers are as sagacious as you, but if China rolls into Taiwan, even the blindest buyer may see something; there could be a lot of boycotts. I'm flashing back to Freedom Fries...

And hey, re: PC--you ordered your stuff, your stuff came, your stuff worked. I think that's great and we need those kinds of success stories. So hats off to you, and maybe even to PC.

Since PC does use some of the cheapest hardware, and they get literally millions usd in backing, I can't imagine why their staff would be skeletal. Cutting off your nose to spite your face... Or maybe PC's going Hannibal Lector, cutting off the face to spite the nose.

And re: the Fxtec Pro1. An US seller has them available new via ebay, but I just read a recent scorching review that seems to level the same PC-like charges: antiquated hardware, ancient Android, and shoddy-at-best Linux development. Surprisingly, the kb was the one positive. I wonder about the customer service; Fxtec might have a better one. The phone is tied tightly to XDA and those guys in their parents' basements often pull back their Star Trek shower curtains to shoot from the hip. I'm always careful when I post over there, since it's a hair-trigger place. I don't want XDA mad at me. Maybe Fxtec doesn't, either.

I'm nursing my wife through some scary-mary open heart surgery (valve repair) and I must be doing something right since she keeps asking if I want to buy something. My Pixel 4a is cheap and functional but I do miss a laptop phone.

Jake



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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2022-12-20 5:36 AM
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Jake - 2022-12-19 7:27 PM

Mark, isn't GPD based in Hong Kong, which is more of a victim than perpetrator these days?


Not sure about GPD location, had assumed they were in China, but you may be right....and yes, they are certainly a victim these days....sad to say...

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But your purchasing point is well-taken with regard to Chinese politics. Not all buyers are as sagacious as you, but if China rolls into Taiwan, even the blindest buyer may see something; there could be a lot of boycotts. I'm flashing back to Freedom Fries...


Thanks....and you're certainly correct, there will likely be backlash if China rolls into Taiwan.....although sad to say, not sure for how long....

Quote

And hey, re: PC--you ordered your stuff, your stuff came, your stuff worked. I think that's great and we need those kinds of success stories. So hats off to you, and maybe even to PC.


Thanks....

Quote

Since PC does use some of the cheapest hardware, and they get literally millions usd in backing, I can't imagine why their staff would be skeletal. Cutting off your nose to spite your face... Or maybe PC's going Hannibal Lector, cutting off the face to spite the nose.


Well, there's cost of designing the devices, making prototypes, sourcing and advance purchase costs of main components (CPU chips, etc), costs of other components (custom boards, displays, etc), custom case/keyboard designs/fabrication, etc, etc.

There's costs for software engineers to customizing Android for their devices, and updating the Planet apps, cellular radio design/testing, etc.

There's costs to rent office in UK (at least they did have a London office, don't know if they still do), warehouse costs in Hong Kong, marketing and promotion costs, insurance, and other ongoing general business expenses, including staff salaries, etc.

So, money is going out continuously and due to production issues the past two years, they haven't been able to scale up production so that shipped all the backer perks and then take in more funds from people buying at retail price on their website or elsewhere. Think that is where the gravy would be. Doubt they make much on the backer perks deals, probably just enough to stay afloat.

From what I could tell a few years ago, in UK they had 3 or 4 leaders plus a few support staff (software/hardware support) and maybe an admin or two. So, guessing somewhere between 6 to 12 people. In order to pay people salaries and some benefits, tax, etc, you figure it costs at least 1.5 - 3X salary for everything.

Add all of the above costs up, and I'm telling you, I think Planet can barely make it financially with only about 2.5 years taking in backer perks costs. They've only taken in about $2.86M on the Indiegogo site. So, that means they'd be operating on about $1.1M/year for the Astro campaign, plus whatever they made on the Makuake (spelling?) campaign in Japan....maybe another +/- $1M/year ??? plus maybe a bit on continued sales of Cosmos? Still if you think about it, this is running a company on a shoestring....undercapitalized, so think they were hoping to bootstrap themselves into being able to scale up through having successful Indiegogo campaigns, then selling a lot of devices at higher retail prices. But in current environment I think they are always running behind financially as they have to pay their ongoing costs, but can't produce enough devices to get their productions costs down to make some real money on them and use profits to expand, etc. ie, think it's a vicious circle now, hard to get out of....probably their best bet would be if a bigger company would buy them out. However, I doubt Janko wants to do that and lose control of his baby.....

Don't have much hard facts to prove the above, other than I ran my own business for 14 years and understand the myriad of monthly costs that never end, even if you have periods where little income is coming in as well as having had clients who run large hi-tech companies, and learned a lot from them about costs of running those businesses, and some other experiences.

Bottom-line, my intuition tells me it's a real struggle for a tiny company like PC to make in this challenging environment.

Just my 2¢, well, given all I wrote, maybe 3¢.....

Hope it's somewhat clear..... sorry for the long ramble....




Quote
And re: the Fxtec Pro1. An US seller has them available new via ebay, but I just read a recent scorching review that seems to level the same PC-like charges: antiquated hardware, ancient Android, and shoddy-at-best Linux development. Surprisingly, the kb was the one positive. I wonder about the customer service; Fxtec might have a better one. The phone is tied tightly to XDA and those guys in their parents' basements often pull back their Star Trek shower curtains to shoot from the hip. I'm always careful when I post over there, since it's a hair-trigger place. I don't want XDA mad at me. Maybe Fxtec doesn't, either.


Hmmm....yes, sounds familiar.....

Is PinePhone related to one of the devices you mention or different?

As for XDA, yeah, that place is unique and can be almost as friendly to novices like me as the Arch forums...


Quote

I'm nursing my wife through some scary-mary open heart surgery (valve repair) and I must be doing something right since she keeps asking if I want to buy something. My Pixel 4a is cheap and functional but I do miss a laptop phone.

Jake


Whoah....sorry to hear about your wife's surgery....hope she gets well/back on her feet soon! Although it sounds good if she asks you about buying something....unless that's just the anesthesia wearing off.....in that case, buy now....

Will think positive for the two of you!

Best wishes,

Mark
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2022-12-20 8:52 AM
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Jake - 2022-12-19 11:21 PM

Aside from Astro's difficulties (there are substantial hardware complaints over at OESF), it's the battery supply issue of the Gem/Cosmo that's so vexing.

We legacy users know that our ebay-ed J's, etc will arrive with poor or no battery because the machines are 20+ years, not a >3 Cosmo.

Also, the British postal system is an unfamiliar animal for us drooling Yanks, So when I mailed back the Cosmo, identifying it as a broken phone, I insured it for $300usd. That set off all kinds of alarms in the London post office, and I ended up paying ANOTHER 75 pounds just to get it out of customs.

I understand that PC doesn't make postal rules, but again, communication would've helped the international buyer. Of course, there's the rub: do you tell your customers not to insure, just cross fingers? That does not invite post-sales confidence, either.

PC gets around the initial VAT by shipping from China, but if I send my battery-dead Gem/Cosmo back for London repair, I'd have to close my eyes and hope for the best because 150 pounds for each VAT/battery replacement is not worth it, given the already-shaky hardware.

It's a First World problem, so I try to be more disappointed than angry. Then again, if your customers aren't angered, that doesn't mean you should disappoint them instead

Jake


HMRC is pretty tight on customs charges. They make a lot from it and the nonsense supports and justifies the existence of a large number of bureaucrats, thus making it a self-sustaining problem. If I import something from the USA, I'll inevitably have to trudge to a customs office and bail it out from post jail.
I haven't heard of them contacting the sender before though, just the recipient. However as it was an RMA you should not have incurred an import customs charge as duty shouldn't be levied:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-pay-a-reduced-rate-of-c...

However this is PC's problem, not yours and I'm baffled as to how (and why) they got the charge passed back to you. It is not right.
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-12-20 4:28 PM
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Actually, it was PC that contacted me to say that I had to pay them so they could pay the customs and free the machine. It was a foreign language to me in every way.

Thanks for your good wishes, Mark. She's hanging in there. Just a bad congenital valve that needed repairing; other than that, she's in pretty good shape and that helps.

Jake
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2022-12-20 4:57 PM
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Jake - 2022-12-20 4:28 PM

Actually, it was PC that contacted me to say that I had to pay them so they could pay the customs and free the machine. It was a foreign language to me in every way.


That is utterly outrageous! That is not how it works.
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