Pine64 community has been on a tear in 2022, with the launch of the PineNote Developer Edition Linux e-reader following the availability of the PinePhone keyboard case and PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition Linux smartphone in the last 2-3 weeks.
So far a limited number of PineNote prototypes had been sent to developers, but it’s now possible to order the PineNote Developer Edition for $399 directly on the Pine64 store. As its name implies, the e-Reader is not ready for end-users, but recent progress with mainline Linux makes it suitable for developers and enthusiasts who want to play around with the device knowing much more work is needed to make it a usable device.
The specifications remain the same as in the initial PineNote announcement:
- SoC – Rockchip RK3566 quad-core A55 processor @ 1.8 GHz with Arm Mali-G52 EE GPU, 0.8 TOPS NPU (AI accelerator)
- System Memory – 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM
- Storage – 128GB eMMC flash
- Display – 10.3-inch panel with 1404×1872 resolution (227 DPI), 16 levels of grayscale, front light with cool (white) to warm (amber) light adjustment, capacitive glass layer for finger touch-based input, scratch-resistant hardened glass, and a Wacom electromagnetic resonance layer (EMR) for EMR pen input (included).
- Audio – 4x microphones, stereo loudspeaker
- Connectivity – Dual-band 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0
- USB – 1x USB-C 2.0 host port for fast charging and data
- Sensor – G-Sensor for portrait and landscape sensing
- Battery – 4,000mAh/14.8Wh LiPi battery
- Power Supply – 5V/3A via USB-C port with USB PD support (15W)
- Dimensions – 191.1 x 232.5 x 7.4mm
- Weight – 438 grams
- Materials – magnesium alloy inner frame, plastic back cover
The PineNote Developer Edition ships with a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, Quick Start User Manual, an EMR Pen, and a protective cover.
The developer edition only ships with a bootloader, no operating system, so you’d have to install, or even build, your own. The photo above shows the PineNote running Alpine Linux v3.14 with Linux 5.16-rc7 (mainline), and a functioning DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) driver for the device’s e-ink controller and panel. It’s still an early version that uses the basic grayscale waveform, and support for optimized anti-ghosting waveforms, the fast monochrome waveform used for low-latency pen input, and the dithering waveform needed to watch videos is coming later on.
Still, this should allow developed to optimize programs for E-ink displays with notably the removal of animations, maximizing contrast, and checking whether the information conveyed through colors is still usable on a grayscale display
Software development support for PineNote has greatly been helped by earlier work on Quartz64 SBC, and the next Linux kernel release (Linux 5.17) should get USB OTG, touch screen, and audio playback. Pine64 community reports only the microphone array and Bluetooth are currently unsupported.
The “software releases” section of PineNote’s Wiki is currently empty simply stating “Not yet available”, so they are not kidding when saying the e-Reader is only for developers at this time, and instructions to build U-boot and the kernel from scratch, get a minimal rootfs, flash everything with a forked version of Rkdeveloptool can be found in a separate page of Pine64 wiki.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.