A Bit More Than Idle Curosity

Story: Pinebook Pro Lap goes on pre-order for $199 with new twist: privacy switchesTotal Replies: 13
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Jul 26, 2019
12:51 PM EDT
Does anybody have any experience with this low price "hardware" firm and their record selling these products.

The laptop must be bare bones, including the Pro, but where are they cutting the support that eliminates some of the hard tissue? I would guess, graphics quality, support for M.2 SSD slot and certainly no PCIe slots for enhanced performance. Some of the description appeals to me and if I knew when these might appear I might buy one. Something I could carry around with less sense of loss if it were broken or stolen.

I would appreciate any aid to assess my risk, should I place an order.

As always,


Jul 26, 2019
7:18 PM EDT

I suggest reading through the article and comment-stream here:


...particularly the bullet-points after "Some important notes. Existing forum members will have priority, and the first batch is for enthusiasts and comes with warnings:". Methinks they might be liquidating and flushing out prior-spin-artwork boards from inventory here; don't expect this low price again. Note especially the low warranty: I don't think you want this purchase. I don't want this purchase, and I would dearly love to replace my Toshiba Centrino-based laptop with a modern netbook for time-on-my-hands situations out-and-about.

In general, I browse linuxgizmos.com, liliputing.com and cnx-software.com for news and reviews of small/embedded computers. Each site has its divergent focus and regular commenters, some of whom have niche expertise (in another comment here I mentioned Thomas Kaiser who seems to be active with OpenMediaVault and Armbian), so the comment streams are an important part of the overall posting. Between these three and links therefrom ([e:] plus various subreddits), I think I get a decent overview of where things are headed with ARM and lower-power Intel hackable hardware.

Jul 28, 2019
12:04 PM EDT
Thanks cr,

You may find this hard to believe, I actually read the article prior to writing right through the beginning comments. Looking again at the specifications I can only conclude my innate skepticism excised many of the listed abilities of this supposed advanced laptop. Ditto on seeing the extra charge (minimal) that allows an M.2 slot for an additional SSD. I skipped the video on the graphics, due to so many being unreal.

Several years ago I ran across a Lenovo Yoga 500 with much lesser abilities Sale Priced at $500 at Costco. I was tempted. Very small screen but I could read the text with no problem. Moreover, I liked the compact metal case that made the unit seem nearly indestructible. While I could have swung the purchase, I decided not since I did not know how well Lenovo supported Linux at that time.

Yet I read recently of a Pinebook ( which I presumed had a wood case for light weight and low cost - but really has a metal alloy) far exceeding the Yoga at a fraction of the cost. Color me dubious. That is why I sought someone on this forum that that owned their products and whose opinion I could give some credence. The comments beneath the article are by "individuals" I have had no previous contact. From my experiences with Yelp I doubt most evaluations or even on shopping sites for hardware. The ratings too often deviate from the words. Moreover, too many shills populate these forums for and against.

When a bargain seems too good to be true, I opt for it is likely a scam. Particularly when there is no production schedule.


Jul 28, 2019
1:25 PM EDT
I don't think they want to be a scam -- I think they're trying to advance the art to catch up with where we should have been had MS not come down hard on netbooks. When the early-adopters and crowdfunders have got theirs, let's see where the pricing and features sit.

I'm currently watching pricing, availability, capabilities and keyboard layout on the various subminis (my term for things like GPD and One Netbook). Brad Linder on liliputing has touch-typist problems with the crowdy keyboards; I'm more a turbo-hunt-n-peck who only approximates touch-typing, but my advantage is being able to type one-handed, either hand (which came in handy when bottlefeeding a child while staying responsive on IRC), and adapting to various keyboards around the house... So I might be more a customer for those teensy keyboards than most, so long as they have the capslock key where I can XKBOPTIONS="ctrl:swapcaps" to adjust the layout to my WordStar-derived habits.

[e:] Survey says... We're not there yet. https://liliputing.com/2019/07/tale-of-two-ultralight-laptop...

Until then... My Toshiba has a kill-switch for wifi and I use it.

Jul 29, 2019
5:47 AM EDT
what do you mean by microsoft coming down hard on netbooks?

greetings, eMBee.

Jul 29, 2019
10:40 AM EDT
> what do you mean by microsoft coming down hard on netbooks?

When Linux started making inroads on netbooks, Microsoft came out with a special deal on XP just for netbooks, but demanded that the hardware be limited in a number of ways (a maximum of 1GB of memory, for one). Later they moved to Windows 7 Starter with pretty much the same limitations.

Jul 29, 2019
12:26 PM EDT
There was probably some corporate-level strongarming as well. I've been looking around and failing to find a link to what was to me at the time a most memorable event, of either Acer or Asus C-levels issuing an apology at a trade show (IIRC it was hinted at being to MS) for something like 'trying too hard'. My takeaway was that their ability to put Windows on any of their products was probably threatened, just like IBM was threatened with no OEM pricing on the then-just-released Windows 95 if they didn't "knife the baby" (OS/2).

Intel and MS both wanted pressure applied to upsell the populace from low-margin netbooks to heftier and pricier notebooks. I did manage to come up with these pertinent links...



Jul 29, 2019
12:56 PM EDT
> ...of either Acer or Asus C-levels issuing an apology at a trade show

I believe that was Asus referencing their EEE line of laptops. And yes, I suspect they were threatened.

Jul 29, 2019
1:26 PM EDT
> Microsoft came out with a special deal on XP just for netbooks

Which was interesting in that XP was otherwise being EOL'd in favor of Vista; The Register called it "Zombie XP", because of its abrupt return from the dead, but they needed something to fill that hole so that consumer-ready Linux (Ubuntu, SuSE) couldn't expand into it, and Vista wouldn't run on low-power hardware like that.

Jul 29, 2019
6:04 PM EDT
I bought a Sylvania to play with. It came with Ubuntu installed and worked nicely. My wife ended up with it and loved it, especially for travel. After seeing it, my brother bought one for his wife for Christmas. It had XP on it, and I remember hearing nothing but complaints about it. I offered to fix it ( get rid of XP.) They didn't go for it and I don't remember hearing about it after that.

Jul 30, 2019
10:22 AM EDT

Keep me informed of your assessments of the prospective netbook replacement's progress. I have been checking out eBay for used Yoga 500s, so far with little luck. What I am seeing are offerings for parts, which to me implies that those that purchased the unit tend to hang on to it to the bitter end. Indeed, I watched a YouTube video showing the dismantling of a 500, to replace its hard drive with a Samsung SSD and the installed memory with a new stick. I assumed the latter had more capacity than the stock unit. For the hardware, the Lenovo had too steep a price even when on sale for $500. However, it looks doubtful I can pick up a used one cheaper and intact.

I watched the link showing assessments for several unltalights with the more one handed keyboards you seem to prefer. While I can sort of two hand touch type for the more common keys I could never have juggled a key board in one hand and a baby in the other. I would have lost one or the other due to animate object in one hand thrashing about bottle or no bottle. The latter object probably would have already struck my head so the choice of which object to retain might have been a bit difficult to decide in such a trying moment.

I look forward to hearing what you learn.



Jul 30, 2019
12:57 PM EDT
> I could never have juggled a key board in one hand and a baby in the other.

I wouldn't try TBH. The keyboard in question was chunky as befits DOS6.2/Win3.11-era desktop, so it was the immovable surface on the desktop which I could dance a hand across. If I had to handhold that, I'd go 10-6 (busy: silent) to focus more fully on my kids. As it was, sometimes the youngest would stand on my shoes to forcibly remind the daddymonster of his presence -- I could converse over his head but I wasn't going anywhere.

Prospects, my guess: we're not done seeing market entries. This is still being impacted by rasPi taking a hammer to baseline SBC pricing, and 3D printing doing an end run around traditional injection-molded plastic shell costs. It's about time to look in on that notebook project at Olimex to see whether, how and how much. That's on the ARM side, which Linux dominates (Raspbian, Armbian). Too many of those X86 subminis surveyed at liliputing come with Win10 for my liking; that probably won't change for awhile, which means they're spreadsheeted pass/fail, market/forget, on being profitable with 'free' Windows, so there's an artificial price floor there. For now.


Jul 30, 2019
11:19 PM EDT
Wow, these two previous posts are thick with verbal shorthand. Not that I'm complaining. I understood every phrase.

Carry on!

Aug 10, 2019
8:46 PM EDT
The week before last I returned to eBay to search on keyboards for iPad Pros and found several. With minimal research I just ordered a ZAGG keyboard listed at $25 (shipping free with sales tax added), for that price it was worth the risk even if it outright failed. Listed as new, but I had the impression it might have meant open box.

Arrived a day early and my first attempt to connect the two would not work. Later with a bit of charge the battery reached a level where the power button light when queried for charge status flashed red three times meaning very low charge. I suppressed the worry that these were old stored units that could have lost significant capacity. Then in too short a time the battery check had the LED flashing green three times. I did not believe it and did it again, same result. Bit worried, has the battery essentially already lost nearly all its capacity? Maybe.

Kind of fuzzy here. The keyboard and the iPad Pro paired and I did some writing using a Google Doc commenced. However, problems soon arose. Now the battery check was flashing three reds not even yellow. After some hot words charging was commenced again and left running for well more than an hour. This time at least three successive battery status flashed only greens.

Due to problems in the house I had good reason to leave and work in a cool environment without the usual distractions. So I spent a few hours writing a short story. As a form the story was completed in that one sitting and all without any further sign of excessive keyboard battery drain. I knew what I had written needed revisions, but that would happen another time.

During the subsequent week I kept the Bluetooth on and checked the status of both batteries every evening. About midweek, the iPad was approaching 20% so I recharged it fully. In the remaining days up to Friday, the 9th, the iPad lost 4 to 5 % charge overnight. At that point I had checked the keyboard every night and it flashed its multiple greens implying it was still fully charged (or really not yet approaching the need to recharge status). At that point I turned off the keyboard.

Personal Assessment:

What missing, for me? I would have liked a home and end key, which I saw on a Logitech keyboard for the smaller iPads today in a Staples. Still I see this as a very good form factor for a device I could travel with, but deficient due to its reliance on an available WiFi required by Google Docs. My preference would be no need for a network connection and a local word processor with local storage for the created documents.

More General:

Another thing to consider, however, if your tablet is a shared device: this unit, actually only the iPad has left on a trip. Thus, my planned further testing is not happening this weekend.

One last point, similar keyboards are available for Android tablets, or at least I found one example. So I presume other models will be there too as a range of iPads both currently produced or older lines as the one I am using is.

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