Pandora – gaming handheld / Linux PC

An idea that took longer to realize than the creators originally intended, the OpenPandora GmbH’s open source handheld Pandora was intended for everyday use on the road. Be it on a plane, on a train or in a bus, or simply whenever you need to wait for a couple of minutes to a couple of hours and need to get your gaming fix or coding hour in, the Pandora has you covered.

The specs of the Pandora are impressive for 2008, when the console was first designed, but do look dated to someone looking for more horsepower under the hood nowadays. It has an 800x480px resistive touchscreen (stylus included), is powered by an OMAP 3530 SoC (system-on-chip) with an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU at 600 MHz base frequency, overclocked safely to 900 MHz, and PowerVR SGX530 graphics at 110 MHz. Aditionally, it has 256MB RAM, 512MB internal flash memory and two SD card slots for memory extension. The ports include USB type A 2.0 port that can even power devices connected to the console, a mini-USB port (not micro, since mini was the standard at the time), an HDMI port,  a charging port (compatible with PSP charger), 3.5mm jack for audio and two analog sliders – for volume and on/off.

Since the actual release was postponed due to production issues and technology was quickly advancing, a newer model of Pandora was rolled out as an upgrade to the existing design. Therefore, there are 3 variants of Pandora available at the moment: Classic (OG – specs above), Rebirth (newer revision graphics, 512 MB RAM) and Pandora 1 GHz (Texas Instruments DM3730 SoC with 1 GHz CPU and 512 MB RAM – the defacto standard machine when comparing to other systems).

It was the first of its kind and although the price tag was pretty hefty (around 500-600€, depending on the configuration of the device) it probably paved the way for some gaming sub-laptops and the GPD Win (which I talked about in a different post). The huge fan base of developers also provided the community with a lot of useful software, optimized for the Ångström Linux that powers the Pandora. The spiritual successor to the Pandora is the Pyra handheld, which is currently in development, in the phase of a working prototype being finalized, and with production starting for most components.

Enjoy some more shots of the Classic model in the Gallery below.

GPD Win Mini-PC / Console

A new 5.5″ mini-PC / console hybrid running Windows 10 came to my attention two weeks ago, although it has been in existence since last year.

And of course, being as obsessed with little gadgets as I am, I had to search for a place to buy it from. I was lucky that a guy from the city I work in was offering his for sale, so we came to an agreement and – here it is 🙂

Starcraft II cinematics

Successfully funded in an Indiegogo campaign by the GPD company from Hong-Kong (known mainly for emulator handhelds running Android), this little beast was released in October 2016, sporting a 1280×720 pixel touchscreen display, 4GB of RAM, 64 GB of internal storage and a quad-core Intel Atom processor with Intel HD 4000 type graphics.

I don’t want to bore you with the specs too much though, so I’ll just answer the question that most people ask when they see this – yes, it runs Skyrim.. and Diablo III, and GTA V and Heroes of the Storm.. and many other games, albeit with some tweaks to either the resolution or complexity of the displayed image. It’s also a fully fledged emulator device, capable of emulating older consoles up to Dreamcast and PS2.

The battery life is also pretty decent, with about 2-3 hours of hardcore multiplayer gaming over WiFi. And if you’re not a hardcore gamer, you’ll be even more satisfied – browsing the web, I could easily get to about 5-7 hours of usage.

The only (very small) flaw I see in this machine is the shiny display, which reflects too much light when under heavy sun light. Other than that, I’d say this machine is one of those few that make you scream “shut up and take my money!”

Starcraft running on GPD win.
Ports on the back side: USB type C for charging,
HDMI out, micro SD card slot, USB type A 3.0 port,
3.5mm jack
Bottom switch for fan control:
off / low speed / high speed 
Front view of keyboard with gamepad controls 
and mouse / gamepad input switch