back to article Pandora tops 1000 boxes

English-built, open source games console Pandora has shipped its thousandth unit - not bad considering every one is hand made by geeks in Newcastle. The Pandora isn't just a games console: running a tweaked Ångström Linux it can manage Open Office and Firefox too, all using open source hardware and software in a box the size …


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  1. GeorgeTuk

    Great news to hear them doing well

    Haven't got one myself and not really my thing but nice to hear it catch on.

    Good on El Reg for putting it out there too.

  2. David Lawrence

    Price Fail

    That's too much dosh. Surely a netbook running a flavour of Linux is cheaper and can run all the software this thing can? Ok so you get a smaller screen and built-in joysticks/pads but does that merit the price difference, given that low-spec netbooks are available at under £200 now?

    1. The BigYin


      ...people don't mind paying a little bit more in order to support a cause/company they believe in?

      If you think it's too much, don't buy it. No one is forcing you to. The only "fail" here seems to be yourself.

    2. Luke McCarthy

      It's the controls

      Netbooks don't have a d-pad, controller buttons and dual analogue sticks, so even though you can run games and emulators, it's not comfortable to play them, and you will probably get more battery life than your average netbook. You're not just buying the device, but also the awesome community making new games, porting emulators and other cool stuff.

  3. Ian Yates


    I had a GP2X in days of yore, and loved hacking around with it.

    The community was great fun, too.

    I've looked at the Pandora a few times, and if I had any spare time, I'd consider trying to do some stuff for it.

    In the end, though, my Desire is more hassle-free as a usable device and a development platform...

  4. Anton Ivanov

    Who said that people are buying it for games

    I have looked at it a few times in the past for a completely different purpose. My wife needed something to automate a diagnostic lab to be shipped into subsaharan Africa. This was one of the cheapest candidates which could easily do the job. Unfortunately the projects never left the drawing board.

    I suspect other people are also looking at this as an automation platform, not a console. It is rugged (for the price). It is also trivial to build a simple UI.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      @Anton Ivanov

      That's as silly as building an HPC cluster out of PS3s. Oh, wait...

  5. James Le Cuirot
    Thumb Up

    Extremely tempting

    I've been following their progress for a while and am really glad they've made it so far. It's an amazing achievement, especially given its grass roots nature. As to whether I'll buy one, it's extremely tempting but I just can't justify the cost with a baby on the way.

  6. Raumkraut

    More than 1000

    Pre-orders for the first batch of 4000 were filled a long while ago, and IIRC they are currently taking orders for the second batch of 4000. All of which, they say. should be sent out by the end of the year.

  7. Greg J Preece

    Well, it's horrifically ugly, but...

    ...are those analogs? DUAL ANALOGS??

    Where the hell's my credit card...

  8. frank ly

    Open Source Hardware??

    Can someone explain what is meant by 'open-source hardware'?

    If you buy hardware (chips, screens, etc) then you can do what you like with them, surely? If you fab your own chips, it can get more complicated of course.

    1. batfastad
      Jobs Horns

      Not open-source hardware

      I believe the designs of the case and internals are not actually open-source. So you can't take the original CAD files and start producing a fork of the project, without some wrangling.

      It's a handheld which runs open-source software.

      The chipset is the OMAP platform which is used in many many embedded devices and projects.

  9. Jordan Bradley

    Newcastle ++

    Good to see some fellow Linux geeks in Newcastle doing something productive and successful =)

    Let me know if you're hiring =P

  10. tony72


    "Open source hardware, just like software, treads a fine line - become too popular and you'll attract the attention of patent holders who can often destroy such efforts."

    I don't really see any mention of "open source hardware" on the Pandora website, at least not on the main page or the about page, are there schematics and artworks etc available so you can build/modify your own Pandora? That's what is generally meant by "open source hardware".

    But whether it's open or not, I can't see any reason to think that the hardware might be violating any patents. It's all off-the-shelf components, and it isn't a clone of any existing device, so unless you have some inside information that you're not sharing...

    The software (i.e. emulators) is another matter, but they don't have to ship the devices with those installed; the target demographic makes it particularly easy to leave it to the customers to install their own software. And in that respect it is no different than any other PC that is capable of running such emulators (i.e. pretty much every PC).

  11. batfastad
    Thumb Up

    I ordered one

    And I really cannot wait to get my hands on it!

    It's been a really rocky ride and the organisation of the project leaves alot to be desired. Getting any sort of official news out of the team has been difficult... scratching around sporadic forum posts and an official website that was never ever updated. Meant the whole process was not transparent, something you expect from open source projects. Although the hardware and design is not open source, it's a handheld which runs open source software.

    Fortunately a community driven site ( came to the rescue and collates all the information from various forum ramblings and tweets.

    It seems the team have also recently remembered about the website and most production difficulties have been overcome! So it's looking good!

    The unit fits the bill perfectly between games console and netbook. SNES/GBA/N64/PSX emulation, plus qwerty keyboard, wifi, bluetooth and a 10hr battery life! Cannot wait.

    The only slight disappointment I have is that there's only 1 shoulder button on each side, would have been incredible if they managed to cram 2 on there but I think there's some guys working on hardware hacks for that.

    I bought a PSP and I've not used it in about 2 years. Converting video for it was annoying, none of the games interested me once I'd completed the Wipeouts, and battery life was pants. I even flashed it to run unofficial firmware but emulation performance wasn't quite good enough.

    With regards to the price. Yeah you could get a netbook for that price, but how many companies make netbooks in runs of just 4,000?

    And have a team of less than 10 people building a customised Linux distribution for it?

    Also the size of my Asus 1005HA-P netbook (which IMO is the best netbook ever, true 10hr battery life after a year of ownership) is about 250% of the size of the Pandora. The Pandora's slightly larger than a Nintendio DS.

    And also, how much did that iPod cost you?!

    Bring on the Pandora!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    no links?

    oh come on. every other hardware vendor (particularly the fruity variety) gets URL links in their least do the same for this small British firm

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice, but get some facts right.

    1) I don't believe they've built/shipped 1000 yet, closer to 750/800.

    2) 4000 (ish) have preordered, not 1000.

    3) I second the comment about including a link.

    4) The hardware is not open. It may eventually be released, but not until some profits have been made. (Reasonably fair)

    5) Netbooks are significantly larger, heavier (shorter battery life, often), and do not have gaming controls or touchscreens (usually).

  14. wardred

    A couple people mentioned 4K pre-orders...

    Of which I'm one, and still looking forward to my order delivery.

    There are a couple forum scrapers out there - of which Alec's Craig Stalker(tm) is one of the better in my opinion - that help immensely with the project updates. The team's been fairly forthright, and delays for quality control, Volcanos, the whole paint the case or not debate, original Nub company failing, etc. have spawned the 2 Months joke that has sadly remained true to this point. Certainly we've had more info from them than from any commercial manufacturer I could think to mention, and they've been great about addressing any hardware issues that have cropped up. It appears we're actually at the 2 month mark now, especially with actual units out in the wild and most of the manufacturing demons tamed - now where's that wood to knock on.

    The main use of this handheld is definitely gaming - be it homebrew, ported games like Descent and much of the Id library - still need the resource files for the games - or emulation. But it's powerful enough to run most desktop apps - if slowly in some cases. Probably OpenOffice and Firefox fall into that slow category. A trimmer browser would probably benefit most.

    HOPEFULLY almost as soon as batch 1 is done they'll start producing batch 2. Don't know when they'll start taking orders for batch 2, or how large that batch will turn out to be.

  15. sehs33
    Thumb Up

    I got mine and it rocks!

    My Pandora put to shame all my other gadgets, sure the software still needs a bit polishing (not talking about the OS, that's very stable at the moment) but it is expected since ppl are working on it in their spare time :)

    If you believe you are a geek and can afford it, you owe to yourself to hop on the second batch wagon (which should start shipping in November if all goes great. You need to be patient though, timelines are not set in stone and might shift, these ppl are doing this for the first time)...

    PS: stressing on the correction made by some of the others above:

    1. First batch: 4000 units preordered, around 800 shipped

    2.Hardware is extremely high quality

    3. Second batch preorders are not yet sold out

    4. Open Pandora sell a portable micro computer made of off the shelf components and all software on it is open source. Open Pandora do not approve piracy and will never guide you to where you can download pirated software + emulators don't ship with the unit, you will need to download them separately

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