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Another HPCesque device? Pinephone + upcoming official keyboard

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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-04-27 12:12 AM
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I'm not sure if this warrants a new thread - Please let me know or move it if it belongs in another one.

I just found out about the prototype for the official Pinephone keyboard - please see here: https://www.notebookcheck.net/Pine64-s-new-keyboard-case-turns-the-PinePhone-into-a-pocketable-Linux-laptop.535230.0.html

It includes a 6000mah battery and really does seem to turn the Pinephone into a PDA-like device - A good bit thicker and lower-specced than the Gemini PDA / Cosmo Communicator but also far cheaper - I believe they're planning on charging about $50 for the keyboard and the Pinephone is currently $150 or $200 depending on the model. Another advantage I'd give it over the aforementioned Planet Computers devices is that it appears to have a conventional hinge, so it should be possible to open it to any angle.

I'm interested to know what others think - I'm somewhat tempted, even though I am a bit dubious about the level of support they're likely to offer for the Pinephone...
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2021-04-27 10:37 PM
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I've been watching this, too, and share your guarded enthusiasm. I don't understand their low prices, but the phone has an active forum, albeit with lots of uh-what's-happening-here questions.

I can't quite figure out the available software. If they go the Sailfish route of not-much-to-see-here, that would make me pause, but if they're doing a full-blown OS, how can we resist?

Jake
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-04-28 5:40 AM
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I was thinking of buying the Pinephone, but a lot of the reviews I see on YouTube is has slow response when using the touchscreen. But I hope that will be fixed on most OS distributions, and I really like the keyboard that is coming.
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2021-04-28 2:33 PM
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I hadn't heard that about a slow touch screen. Oh, dear. I was reading more about OS issues.

Jake
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-04-28 11:09 PM
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I saw many YouTube videos mentioning that the response to touch lags a lot.
I don't know if it is so in the latest OS versions though. I hope it's fixed now.

I really like the fact that you can disable the modem, camera, WiFi etc. via a switch.
This video has the DIP switch.


Edited by stingraze 2021-04-28 11:10 PM
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-04-29 8:29 AM
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Jake, Stingraze,

Appreciate the input here - From my understanding they seem to be working more closely with developers on the Pinephone than with previous products but it still seems to be their "see what the community comes up with" approach to software.

The closest to an 'official' OS seems to be the beta edition, which has Manjaro Linux preinstalled (not very familiar with this - Arch-based I think) with Plasma Mobile as the UI: https://pine64.com/product/pinephone-beta-edition-linux-smartphone/?v=0446c16e2e66 As a long-time KDE user (Kubuntu mainly) I'd probably get on OK with this, but I'd be happier if they'd gone with something Debian-based as the underlying OS - Just personal preference though really. There do seem to be plenty of other OS options, in various states of completeness.

I would tend to assume the touchscreen issues are software related - Perhaps the GPU is not properly supported or lacking hardware acceleration, causing the screen image to lag vs. touchscreen input? I also hope this gets fixed in future OS releases.

I'm still quite tempted if they get the keyboard case sorted - I'd be prepared to put up with quite a lot of software issues to get a device that's so close to being a (relatively) modern version of a HPC at a this kind of price.

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Jake Page Icon Posted 2021-04-29 3:26 PM
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I hadn't known about the DIP switches, that's very cool. It's hard to believe that with today's technology, pinephone is having trouble with a touch screen. Yeah, you hope it's a glitch of software, but still...

As for the OS choices, am I correct in assuming they're not full-blown, but sort of "Touch-Lite" renditions? In the specs, it's called "Manjaro with Plasma Mobile OS build."

I've revived my Planet Computer Gemini and am using its Gemian linux (only). It's ARM, which is limited, but can use everything an ARM build can use.

Edit: Gemian = Debian Stretch ARM

Jake

Edited by Jake 2021-04-29 3:27 PM
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fantablium Page Icon Posted 2021-05-02 5:37 PM
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This certainty looks like an interesting product! reminds me a lot of the Viliv N5 - I think that came with a Linux and XP option
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-05-06 12:05 AM
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Update:

I've taken a bit of a gamble and ordered a Pinephone (3GB version with 'convergence package'). When it arrives I'll see how 'PC-like' I can get it to be with an external keyboard, hopefully they'll release the official keyboard soon!

Edited by robertojones 2021-05-06 12:05 AM
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-05-06 1:58 AM
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Congratulations on your purchase!

Edited by stingraze 2021-05-06 1:58 AM
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2021-05-06 2:53 PM
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Well done! Our canary in the mine! We'll want to hear all about it.

Jake
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-05-07 8:43 AM
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Thanks Stingraze, Jake -

I will of course provide updates on how I get on with the Pinephone - Based on my experiences with the Pine64 boards I'm certainly a bit skeptical, but there does seem to be more of a community around the Pinephone and a lot more attention from the distros, so I'll try to reserve judgement until I have it.
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-05-12 4:01 AM
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I haven't watched everything yet, but this looks interesting to watch.
(Faster, larger eMMC)
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-05-14 8:31 AM
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stingraze - 2021-05-12 4:01 AM

I haven't watched everything yet, but this looks interesting to watch.
(Faster, larger eMMC)


This was interesting - Even with the mods there are clearly a few things that run a bit slowly - Of course there's only so much you can do when the SoC is so much less powerful than most current smartphones. Given that mine is going to be more of a PDA / HPC it will probably be enough for me, and it will certainly be enough to experiment with a bit,

It would be interesting to see what performance was like before he upgraded the eMMC - I'm hoping it's at least OK because I definitely don't trust myself to unsolder / resolder the chip!
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-05-15 4:43 AM
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robertojones - 2021-05-14 5:31 PM
It would be interesting to see what performance was like before he upgraded the eMMC - I'm hoping it's at least OK because I definitely don't trust myself to unsolder / resolder the chip!

I agree, the performance comparison would have been great.
I tried de-soldering some junk electronics long time ago, but it's very difficult and that's a skill (I'm not good at it).

Edited by stingraze 2021-05-15 4:44 AM
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