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.
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 …
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.
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...
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.
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.
"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).
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 (pandorapress.net) 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!
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).
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.
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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