Thursday, October 15, 2009

Size Matters

Technology and computers advance at a rapid rate. Each generation of systems is faster than the last and often times less expensive. In addition to growing quicker our computers have also been getting steadily smaller. When the first netbook came into mass production back into October of 2007 it seemed that perhaps technology hand finally reached it's limit in the means of size.

Enter the subject of this article - The Open Pandora

The Open Pandora is a project that again brings a notable size reduction to computers. Sporting a pocket size (140mm by 83mm) it is sure to be the smallest full computer the market has ever seen. Thats right - that wasn't a typo - "full computer". The Open Pandora is a full computer system you can hold in the palm of your hand. Sporting a 600mhz processor and 256megs of RAM (full tech specs) the Open Pandora is going to be running a customized Linux distro that will allow for both gaming and personal use. Since the Open Pandora is sporting a full Linux distro that means you will be able to do all those things you are used to on a computer - type documents and surf the net/instant message, with wifi functionality. The Open Pandora sports a good size (43 key) QWERTY keyboard, a D-pad, two rubber analog pads, a touch screen, a microphone, TV out, blue tooth, an 800x480 resolution screen,and two USB ports. The Open Pandora will support any USB device that works on Linux (so pretty much all of them).

How ever gaming is where the device really shines - this is what it is being designed for in fact on the homepage they boast "The [Open Pandora] most powerful gaming handheld there is." This statement is not a stretch by any means - take a peek at the types of games this little guy is going to be able to handle:
  • Atari 2600, 7800, 5200, and Lynx
  • Nintendo NES, SNES, Gameboy, GBA and NDS (with combination of inbuilt touchscreen and external TV)
  • Sega Master System and Genesis
  • NEC PCEngine (TurboGrafx-16)
  • SNK NeoGeo, NeoGeo Pocket, and Pocket Color
  • Sony Playstation
  • Atari 400, 800, and ST
  • Amiga
  • PC (DOSBox)
Quiet the impressive list! Also worth noting at this point is that even though it will be running a full Linux distro the Open Pandora will not be able to run applications via Wine. The processor in the device is an ARM chip - not an x86 chip which is what Wine technology requires to run.

Unfortunately the only draw back to the Open Pandora is the fact that it hasn't been released yet! They are currently taking pre-orders for the first batch (limited to 4,000 units) The pricing is reasonable, it currently runs around the same cost as a netbook:
  • Pandora $330
  • TV Out $19.99
  • Carrying Case $19.99
  • Battery $28.99
  • Power Adaptor $7.99
  • Stylus $7.00
  • Dev Fund $20
  • Air Mail shipping $24
  • UPS 24/48 hr shipping $49
The unit itself includes a stylus, battery, and power adapter (oh and note the Air Mail shipping - the Open Pandora is being produced in the UK). Obviously this is only a broad overview of the device, take a look through their wiki and their homepage for more detailed information. At any rate this is a project to be watching!



  1. They chose the ARM processors because they are better on battery life.

    I want to get one but I think I will be picking up a 350 netbook or something like that before I pick up this guy. A little expensive but I think the idea behind it is awsome. I hope the project really takes off.

    I will prolly get one when my phat psp dies some day.

  2. Very true, I personally already have an Asus EEE PC and currently do not have anything "handheld" such as a PSP/DS so I've been thinking of picking one up and this is perfect! Plus I really want to play with Linux on the ARM chip hehehe