Did you hear of the Open Pandora project? We did... almost two years ago. The open-pandora claims to be the ultimate gaming handheld, a mixture between a PC and a gaming console. The software is completely open, although the hardware isn't.
- ARM® Cortex™-A8 600Mhz+ CPU running Linux
- 430-MHz TMS320C64x+™ DSP Core
- PowerVR SGX OpenGL 2.0 ES compliant 3D hardware
- 800x480 4.3" 16.7 million colours touchscreen LCD
- Wifi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth & High Speed USB 2.0 Host
- Dual SDHC card slots & SVideo TV output
- Dual Analogue and Digital gaming controls
- 43 button QWERTY and numeric keypad
- Around 10+ Hours battery life
With a Pandora in hand one can enjoy life. That is, all aspects of linux on a handheld, 10+ hours of batterylife and a lot of emulators. Yes, people buying this device are foremost emulator addicts and a whole bunch of emulators have already been ported or adapted to fit the Pandora. The Pandora has a touchscreen just like the NDS but it also has two anlog controls, a D-pad, four fire-buttons and two shoulder buttons for optimum gameplay. Like the PSP it has a TV-out so you can n-joy playing games on your TV-screen.
I can think of only two. First, I do not like the position of the spacebar. The spacebar is situated completely on the righthand side of the lower row on the keyboard. However, ye olde spectrum dudes are accustomed to a spacebar at that position, so I guess it's a matter of taste. Second, I'd like to go online when on the road, but there's no GPRS/UMTS dongle built in. Sure you can put one in via the USB slot but I do not like stuff sticking out of my gadgets because eventually they will break or tear or just get lost. Having online gameplay anywhere would certainly give this powerhouse an edge over the big boys. But it wasn't to be.
Not a con but a side effect of producing in small batches for a niche audience is the price. It's a bit steep, US 333 dollars excluding an extra battery, shipping or TV-cable. We paid £365.12 to openpandorasales for a potential Pandora with full option. This sum includes:
- Pandora - EUR 298.22 (includes VAT at 15%)
- TV OUT - EUR 15.37
- CASE - EUR 15.37
- BATTERY - EUR 22.28
- ADAPTOR - EUR 7.29
- DEV FUND - EUR 15.00
- STYLUS - EUR 5.08
and then there are the sipping options:
- Air Mail Shipping - EUR 17.56
- UPS 24/48 Hr - EUR 36.97
After two years of setbacks and delays it looks as if the OP-team is finally ready for assembly of the pandora handheld. First batch production wil encompass a meagre 4000 units with a second batch planned for later this year. The units will be assembled in the UK instead of Texas US by the OP-team and community volunteers.
It looks like most of the OS will be finished when the first batch ships although there are some major issues with the WiFi driver for the onboard WiFI being "unstable". Chances are that your Pandora will be shipped with a WiFi-dongle to be able to update the firmware as development continues. Recent forum threads suggest the unstability of the driver might be caused by byte alignment problems during compilation. Ifso maybe some well placed pragma's will do the trick and driver-hell will be a thing of the past. We'll just have to wait and see.
Forum members were eagerly awaiting an assembly date for the first of april but the Chinese company producing the molds for the casings and keymats performed some last minute tweaking which shifted the deadline... again. So close to the finish some forum members are getting impatient, strange because if you have the stomach to wait this long, why not wait a couple of weeks longer for a near optimal product? Some even want the OP team to sell the Pandora as a DIY-kit. But for now, this seems to be out of the question because for common folk the LCD-ribbon cacle will likely get damaged if handled or assembled incorrectly. Also, there is some soldering to do which leaves the question of warranty when something goes wrong when you missolder.
The team behind OP
From the forum we can deduce that there are about four brains running the hardware development side of the project, MWeston, CraigX, EvillDragon and Fatih. Apperently the 4000 units form the first batch are divided among the latter three to sell in their shops.
More info and detailz plz
Want to know more? Then checkout the open-pandora website or go directly to the community forums.