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Linux-Based Pandora Ships with 600 MHz ARM

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 32 comments

It's a pocket computer that looks like the Nintendo DSi XL.

Back in December we reported that the open-source, Linux-based Pandora pocket computer was close to completion, facing a final testing with the FCC by the end of the year. Now the device has entered mass-production, with the Pandora team currently building the first batch of 4,000 units. Private pre-orders have even begun to ship.

Pandora appears unchanged since December, sporting a small, Nintendo DS XL-like clam-shell appearance while retaining the usefulness of a netbook. It still uses the ARM Cortex-A8 600 Mhz+ CPU and a 430 MHz TMS320C64x+ DSP Core. Additional hardware includes the 110 MHz PowerVR SGX GPU, 256 MB of RAM, and 512 MB of flash memory. The device's 4.3-inch resistive touchscreen provides a native 800 x 480 resolution and 16.7 million colors.

Although Pandora is promoted as "the most powerful gaming handheld," the specs lean more towards an ultra-portable, pocket-sized PC. This portable rig can surf the Internet thanks to a built-in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g wireless adapter, allow users to compose email using its 43-button QWERTY keyboard, and perhaps even export high-quality video to a TV thanks to its S-Video output jack. The Pandora sports a battery with a 10+ hour duration.

On the gaming front, Pandora supposedly runs Quake 3 Arena rather well, however it's promoted as a device capable of running older games and console ROMS via emulators--heck, the Motorola Droid can do those equally as well. Currently pricing is unknown, and general consumers are unable to pre-order as of this writing.

Is this just a glorified smartphone?

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    the_krasno , May 28, 2010 9:11 PM
    You can connect a headset to it and it has an internal microphone, so yes, you can use it as a phone with Skype.

    USB support means you can plug wi-fi or 3G adapters.

    Linux means you are free to modify the software, and the large base Linux has means tons of content available to it and people working on it.

    It weighs only 335 grams.

    I. Want. One.
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    jomofro39 , May 28, 2010 8:11 PM
    Kratos shall cast this into the flame of Olympus.
  • -3 Hide
    anamaniac , May 28, 2010 8:19 PM
    Ultra portable with dedicated gaming controls.
    This is what the next PSP should be.
    Bit underpowered though, even the Cowon S9 has a dual core 500MHz ARM... and it's a music player.
  • 6 Hide
    maxsp33d , May 28, 2010 8:23 PM
    My nokia N900 does all of it and to top it all, it can also make phone calls and video calls via skype.
  • 6 Hide
    nforce4max , May 28, 2010 8:25 PM
    I have heard about these before a few weeks ago, they look interesting. Its some what cool that there is a PowerVR gpu since they left the consumer and professional pc/power pc graphics sector a decade ago.


    Linux FTW
  • 4 Hide
    ksa-_-jed , May 28, 2010 8:28 PM
    If you a Linux user and you want a small notebook for browsing and with long battery life then these is your best chioce
  • 4 Hide
    falchard , May 28, 2010 8:38 PM
    But can it run Quake?
  • 7 Hide
    Honis , May 28, 2010 8:46 PM
    Quote:
    heck, the Motorola Droid can do those equally as well.
    No, it can't. The Droid is missing the built in game pad interface.
  • 17 Hide
    the_krasno , May 28, 2010 9:11 PM
    You can connect a headset to it and it has an internal microphone, so yes, you can use it as a phone with Skype.

    USB support means you can plug wi-fi or 3G adapters.

    Linux means you are free to modify the software, and the large base Linux has means tons of content available to it and people working on it.

    It weighs only 335 grams.

    I. Want. One.
  • -4 Hide
    C 64 , May 28, 2010 9:14 PM
    I don' know what it is, but it sure is ugly....

  • -6 Hide
    twisted politiks , May 28, 2010 10:42 PM
    honestly, i dont see the point in one considering my HTC Incredible can do most, if not all of those things. On the other hand, if i didnt want to get stuck on a contract/pay $50 a month, i could see myself buying one of these for on the go stuff.
  • 2 Hide
    Arethel , May 28, 2010 10:48 PM
    The specs seem very underwhelming but consider that this product has been in the works for years, and faced several delays. Had this product been completed when it was supposed to, just owning one would put you into somewhat of an elite category.

    That being said, this product was designed to accommodate a small niche of a niche market. Originally it was limited to just 3000 units for it's investors, but by popular demand was extended to 4000. Who knows if they'll even make any more.

    Even at this point of time where the specs seem so dated, this product will still be one of the best, if not the best, devices for what it was designed to do. For instance, I'm one of the first people in the US to have an HTC T8282 (Touch HD) and this phone has served me very, very well. Aside from making phone calls, checking my e-mail, and browsing the web, I can also run a multitude of games and emulators. Problem, I don't have any hardware buttons, and even if I did, would they be located in such a way that makes my phone comfortable and practical for such an application? How about any other phone out there? Even the "devine" Apple phones are not practical for such applications. The best games that can be run on our phones are touchscreen based.

    As far as the Skype arguement goes, Pandora can do it. When I make my international calls with Skype on my HTC T8282, I specifically use a wifi connection. :)  Using the Pandora would be no different.

    This device is for a niche market, and not only will it not appeal to everyone, but it won't be understood by everyone. It's the same thing as 3dconnexion devices. I always found it humorous to read comments about these devices asking what the point was for having a supplemental $600 trackball. Of course it's not for games, but as an engineer I can't live without one.

    Now I only wish I was one of the few proactive people that pre-ordered this device...
  • -3 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , May 28, 2010 11:23 PM
    Heard about this a long time ago. I'm still not sure the emulators will be any good.
  • -2 Hide
    Ramar , May 28, 2010 11:37 PM
    This has been going for years; back when it was first announced it was impressive. Now, not so much.
  • 1 Hide
    Darkerson , May 29, 2010 12:14 AM
    Seem like it could be a fun little device, as long as they don't overcharge for it. Might even be a nice portable replacement for the old PC I'm using to run Puppy Arcade 8 (a Linux distro that is geared towards emulating all kinds of systems)
  • -1 Hide
    littlec , May 29, 2010 1:33 AM
    First off lemme just say I LOVE the concept and form factor.. BUT I hate how under powered it is. PASS!
  • -1 Hide
    WheelsOfConfusion , May 29, 2010 3:22 AM
    It's not underpowered, it's comparable to an iPhone 3GS and the specs leave the DS and PSP out in the cold. It should be far better for emulation than the PSP homebrew scene and the hardware keyboard makes it totally viable to emulate old computers, even 386 systems with DOSBox. You can use it as a handheld gaming console, PMP, or run a full-fledged desktop-style OS. Would it have been more impressive if shipped a year ago without the crazy production delays? Sure, but there's still nothing else like it on the market today.

    I was waiting for the second production run but now I wish I'd pre-ordered from the first batch, back when I had money.
  • 6 Hide
    b4rent , May 29, 2010 6:50 AM
    It's been nice. But Toms has finally driven me beyond returning. Just had an advertisement take over the screen I was reading. I'm all for ads, but please. This is almost as bad as a porn site. I've been reading Tom's since the days of the days of 486's and pentium 75mhz bus speed tweaks. It's been great, but I just don't see as much useful info anymore. First publication to bench the Atom series against each other will be my new diggs for tech savy reading! Thank you for the years of good stuff!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2010 11:27 AM
    does a smartphone have dpad & nubs?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2010 11:35 AM
    I am surprised people are complaining it is so much underpowered.
    It's the same OMAP3 Chip as in the Nokia N900. Do you consider the N900 so much underpowered ?

    It might not be the fastest chip out there but it's still pretty good IMO. Beside the OMAP3 DSP and GPU is just beginning to be exploited properly.

    Also with over-clocking most should probably be able to run @700 or @800mhz without much trouble and that's without changing the voltage.

    What's true however is that the ARM market is evolving very fast. Just because you see a announcement for an OMAP4 chip doesn't mean it will be in device straight away. Especially with TI it can take about 1-2 year from initial sampling to device shipping.

    This device is mostly aimed at ppl who what to have proper gaming control and are into emulation. It's very open nature might also inspire some hacker.
    So if you really want a Smartphone buy one, the Pandora will probably not be for you.
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