Raspberry Pi Competitor Pine64 Opens Pinebook Pro Notebook Pre-Orders

(Image credit: Pine64.org)

Pine64 opened pre-orders for its Pinebook Pro laptop, which is an open-source project based on the Rockchip RK3399 SOC, on July 25.

Pine64 is probably best known for competing with Raspberry Pi in the single-board computing market. It released the Pine H64 Model B to developers in March; the board is now available in 2GB and 3GB versions from the Pine64 online store. But it's not exclusively focused on single-board computers: Pine64 has also been working on two Pinebook laptops, a PinePhone smartphone, the PineTab tablet, and devices in other product categories.

The Pinebook Pro "is meant to deliver solid day-to-day Linux or *BSD experience," Pine64 said on the laptop's product page, "and to be a compelling alternative to mid-ranged Chromebooks that people convert into Linux laptops." Because the entire project is open source, the Pinebook Pro is also supposed to offer more expandability than most consumer laptops without having to compromise on component quality along the way.

To wit: the Pinebook Pro features a 14-inch 1080p display, 4GB of memory, 64GB of eMMC storage, and a 10,000 mAh capacity battery. Expansion options are offered via USB 2.0 and 3.0 hosts as well as a microSD card slot and optional PCIe M.2 NVMe slot. There's also a USB Type-C port used for power delivery, data transfers, and video output at up to 4K resolution at 60Hz. Networking is offered via 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 support.

Pine64 announced on July 5 that the Pinebook Pro would feature privacy switches that can deactivate the networking modules, webcam, and microphones by pressing the F1, F2 or F3 keys for 10 seconds. These switches are controlled via firmware that runs separately from the operating system. When activated, the switches cut off power to the affected component, and the power state is remembered even if the device is rebooted.

That announcement also revealed that the Pinebook Pro would offer three different operating system choices at launch: Linux, Chromium OS, and Android 9. Pine64 will ship the device with Debian, its Linux distro of choice, but its partners could ship the device with other distros. The entire point of making an open-source laptop is letting people decide exactly how they want to use the device, and that extends to which operating system they use.

You can pre-order the Pinebook Pro via the Pine64 online store for $200. The company said that it doesn't make a profit off sales of the device--it's "offering the Pinebook Pro at this price as a community service to PINE64, Linux and BSD communities." It also warned that the Pinebook Pro can't ship with other Pine64 devices because it features a lithium-ion battery and that a few dead pixels on the LCD display are to be expected.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • bit_user
    For $200, it's not bad. However, if you just want an ARM laptop, you might wait and grab one of the upcoming 8cx-based models.
  • lsorense
    Wow that keyboard would be unusable. Linux users often use the | key and having it over where the left shift key is supposed to be does not work. And the enter key is horrible too. No thanks. Usable keyboard layout is too important.