PineTab Linux Tablet Coming Soon for $100. Watch an Ubuntu Touch Demo in the Meantime

People have been trying to launch Linux tablets for years from PenPod 700 to Jolla Tablet, or more recently NTablet. You may not know or remember about those, as Linux tablets that actually shipped never really gained traction.

But in early 2019, Pine64 started to mention development work on PineTab, an Allwinner A64 powered BSD/Linux tablet, and the company/community is really good at developing low-cost hardware and providing decent firmware support, so hopes were high. After COVID-19 related delay, Pine64 has now announced the first PineTab tablets would go for pre-order at the end of the month for $99.

PineTab Linux Tablet with Detachable Keyboard

PineTab specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor with Arm Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 64GB eMMC flash, MicroSD card slot, M.2 slot for SATA SSD
  • Display – 10″ MiPi 720p Capacitive LCD
  • Video output – Mini HDMI up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – Speakers and Microphone
  • Cameras – 5MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera/webcam
  • Connectivity – WiFi, optional 4G LTE M.2 card (multiplexed with SSD)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 A host port, 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port
  • Expansion – M.2 slot for multiple expansion boards for LTE, LoRa and SATA SSD
  • Misc – Volume rocker and Home button, optional magnetically attached keyboard
  • Battery – 6,000mAh battery
  • Charging & Power Supply – 5V/3A power barrel jack
  • Dimensions – 260 x 175 x 11 mm
  • Weight – 600+ grams

The PineTab itself will go for $99.99, and the optional detachable keyboard for $19.99. Just the PinePhone Braveheart Edition, PineTab Linux tablets offered at the end of May will be for early adopters who may not mind some small defects like a missing pixel on the display.

The tablet will support various Linux distributions, including PostmarketOS, Arch Linux Arm, and UBPorts Ubuntu Touch. A demo of the latter has been uploaded on YouTube to show how it well works so far, and it’s pretty good considering the relatively low-end hardware.

A few more details can be found on the Wiki, and PineTab should be up for pre-order on Pine64 store by the end of the month.

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Drone
Drone
2 months ago

OK, this thing has a Cortex-A53 processor and costs $120 USD with the keyboard. But this thing:

https://www.cnx-software.com/2020/05/09/mnt-reform-open-source-hardware-laptop/

…also has a Cortex-A53 processor and starts at $1,000 USD! As of today (18-May-2020) the $1,000 device’s campaign on Crowd Supply has raised $135,398 of the $115,000 goal with 117 backers and 31 days left to go. So it looks like they’re going to make it.

Sheeesh, I must be missing something to justify that $1,000 price tag – either that or all of their 117 backers are getting taken for a ride.

Anton Fosselius
2 months ago

the thing about the 1000$ laptop is that it has no vendor binary blobs, you got access to all hw and source code. this makes the design proccess a nightmare and requires a significant sw effort. the pinetab uses the chepest components and relies on community sw efforts this makes it much cheaper.

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 months ago

> the thing about the 1000$ laptop is that it has no vendor binary blobs

…except the DRAM initialization so in other words: it can not even boot without a BLOB.

While I really appreciate the Reform approach trying to be as open as possible it simply outlines the challenges involved. BTW: with old Allwinner hardware like an A64 you get a full open source boot process since linux-sunxi community even reverse engineered DRAM initialization.

Anton Fosselius
2 months ago

even then you hardly get the HDL files for the chips used, not even the tape out designs from the fab, buhu.. i guess the closest you can get to a fully open design is a fpga based soc using an open source toolchain all the way..

Rogan Dawes
Rogan Dawes
2 months ago

What blobs are required for the A64? I believe that there is a free graphics driver for the Mali GPU?

Itchy 'n' Scratchy
Itchy 'n' Scratchy
2 months ago

As far as I can tell none

Jerry
Jerry
2 months ago

RAM initialization might be a problem. I read the Allwinners might also carry a secondary processor that might run proprietary surveillance code.

fireTwoOneNine
fireTwoOneNine
2 months ago

The A64 has FOSS DDR3 initialization code now. There also is a secondary processor but we have fully control over it: https://github.com/crust-firmware/crust

Willy
Willy
2 months ago

You’re confusing with your beloved broadcom chips Jerry.

Drone
Drone
2 months ago

@Anton Fosselius said: “the thing about the 1000$ laptop is that it has no vendor binary blobs, you got access to all hw and source code. this makes the design proccess a nightmare and requires a significant sw effort. the pinetab uses the chepest components and relies on community sw efforts this makes it much cheaper.” So I pay $1,000 for dirt cheap laptop hardware but the $1,000 price is a “reward” for the seller to release “open” source/drivers that anyone can use? I don’t get this business model. If the HW/SW is truly “Open” it will take literally a… Read more »

nobitakun
nobitakun
2 months ago

So, basically you need to pay insane amounts of money to get a product the way it has to be done. Good business, they make things wrong, closed and as shitty as possible to keep them low cost? I’m sorry but I’m not buying that. Things should be open by default and by law, if you make hardware, I’m sorry, bear with it. Stopping the progress because you are stupid and have the power to stop it should be punishable. If companies have community support, there is no excuse at all.

Willy
Willy
2 months ago

In theory that would be ideal. The practice is far away from this, simply because it’s terribly difficult. I am an opensource developer and at my work we make products around the project. You probably have no idea how difficult it is to make a build system that is portable and reusable out of your own environment, to document it with variations that don’t depend on environment, even to enumerate all your components, figure their licenses and the original download URLs for the sources. For example, a long time ago we used to assemble pre-built packages, and if one package… Read more »

shippy
shippy
2 months ago

Interesting. So this should also run Armbian, thanks to the open source community around it?

I can’t help wonder though…why not just buy a cheap $30-35 Amlogic S905 or AW H6 Android 6.0/7.0 TV box available for the last couple years with same or better internal specs, add your own keyboard, mouse, USB hdd + sata etc, and SD dual boot with Armbian on a PC monitor or TV screen?

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 months ago

Not forgetting Odroid C4.

Also the line of still sold, plastic Netbooks with Wondermedia tablet SoCs and ancient software too. bad !

Peter
Peter
2 months ago

You are mixing things? Like tablet with TV and bunch of extra external devices.

Itchy 'n' Scratchy
Itchy 'n' Scratchy
2 months ago

As others mentioned a tvbox and a tv and a mouse are not a tablet. If your TV box doesn’t have a mainline dtb you are stuck with their official kernels *shrug* (I’m unable to write those for myself)

Also pine should provide spareparts, and is usually quite transparent with regards to change management.

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 months ago

Looking on Aliexpress there are atom based Win device around the price . Then the Allwinner A33 BDF Netbooks Android 6, yuk.

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