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Emulation (Games) Handhelds Open Source Portables (Games) Games Linux

First Pandora Console Reaches Customer 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the insert-pandora's-unboxing-pun-here dept.
neogramps writes "It's been a long time coming, but the first Pandora consoles are finally rolling off of the production line. (Well, this one actually walked out the door to a customer who lived near the 'factory.') Initial estimates had put production and development at taking two months, but Murphy had other ideas. Banking issues, design problems, problems communicating with the Chinese moulding company, escalating assembly costs, and even a volcano all managed to get in the way, but the small and dedicated team soldiered on, and just over a year and a half later, the wait is coming to an end for the 4,000 pre-orderers."
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First Pandora Console Reaches Customer

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  • Soldiered? (Score:5, Funny)

    by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:20PM (#32314756) Homepage Journal
    Shouldn't that be "soldered"?-)
  • by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@gmTWAINail.com minus author> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:28PM (#32314818) Homepage

    2 years ago these specs would have been exciting, but with smartphones already pushing over 1ghz and 512mb ram, I don't see the appeal. Pandora seems destined to be an emulator lover's delight and not much more. Sure you can run android on it, but it only has a 600mhz processor and 256mb ram. The same specs as a motorola droid. I guess $300 is an ok price to play every console game before the playstation, but my laptop does that and has a nice big screen too. 2 years ago I would have drooled at this machine (and I did), but anymore it seems like it will be so radically obsolete in a short period of time. My phone is already portable internet enough for me. If anything, I'd much rather have a nice 8-10" tablet that I can share my phone's 3g connection with. Once the tablets start getting near the $300 price point, I think things will get pretty interesting. I guess you could say that the pandora is like the ultimate portable console, but only if you don't want to play any newer games.

    • by Drethon (1445051) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:34PM (#32314876)
      Specs may not longer be the best but personally I want the full keyboard and analog controls. Perhaps if this version is successful the package can be upgraded to something more cutting edge with less delays.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hurricane78 (562437)

        Except for the analog controls, I don’t see where the N900 does not beat it in any way...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by migla (1099771)

          > Except for the analog controls, I don't see where the N900 does not beat it in any way...

          Keyboard and price, also.

          • by PiSkyHi (1049584)

            Actually it's just analog controls and price - you are paying for the analog controls and real USB ports - everything else about the N900 is better than Pandora, so its probably not worth it now.

            Since Nokia's Qt now has multi-touch, I'm betting a new Nokia device with Meego and a capacitive touchscreen will be out within a year.

            I really hope it has real host USB ports since that is ruining my overall N900 experience.

            I don't think they will drop the keyboard, they know they don't need to copy Apple to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn (203771)

      My PSP does that & plays all my old PSX games. I got it for $100 used. True it's a little slower & doesn't have a touchscreen, but it works really good for what I need it for. I do hope the Pandora takes off however, I'd like to see every kind of consumer entertainment electronics with an open version legally available.

      • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @04:20PM (#32316602) Journal

        My PSP does that & plays all my old PSX games. I got it for $100 used.

        But can your PSP play N64 games? Can it browse the web, or use 3G sticks? Nope?

        Will it have tons of homebrew games? (you might think so, but gp32x's community pumps out way more homebrew stuff than the PSP community does. Source: The devs coming over from the PSP community)

        Does your PSP have awesome controls, a great screen, a 14 hour battery life? Nope?

        Does it run hackable linux, with off-the-shelf compatibility with your favourite tools? Nope?

        There's many features that make a Pandora desirable. If you want enough of them, its value shoots up far above other handhelds.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jaysyn (203771)

          But can your PSP play N64 games?

          Uh, yes? I'm sure it's slow, but there you go.
          http://sourceforge.net/projects/daedalus-n64/ [sourceforge.net]

          Can it browse the web

          Yes again, PSP have been able to get online via WiFi from day one.

          or use 3G sticks

          Don't you already own a cell phone?

          Does your PSP have awesome controls

          I don't think they are too bad.

          a great screen

          4.3" is the same size as the Pandora, albeit @ 1/2 rez.

          a 14 hour battery life?

          No, but it does have a 10 hour battery life. And the batteries are cheap.
          http://www.circuitcentral.com.au/sony-psp-high-capacity-battery-3650mah-aftermarket.html [circuitcentral.com.au]

          Does it run hackable linux, with off-the-shelf compatibility with your favourite tools?

          Uh, yes again.
          http://www.linux-mips.org/wiki/PSP [linux-mips.org]

          There's many features that make a Pandora desirable.

          Did you miss the par

          • by BikeHelmet (1437881) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:13PM (#32317482) Journal

            But can your PSP play N64 games?

            Uh, yes? I'm sure it's slow, but there you go.
            http://sourceforge.net/projects/daedalus-n64/ [sourceforge.net] [sourceforge.net]

            ...

            This doesn't even deserve a response. I'm talking about a playable framerate. Not 5fps.

            Yes again, PSP have been able to get online via WiFi from day one.

            Browsing the web wouldn't be fun with such a horribly low resolution.

            or use 3G sticks

            Don't you already own a cell phone?

            How is this a response? Most cellphones can't tether, so how does that help?

            Does your PSP have awesome controls

            I don't think they are too bad.

            Then you've never tried a Pandora.

            a great screen

            4.3" is the same size as the Pandora, albeit @ 1/2 rez.

            PSP screens used to have HORRIBLE ghosting, and an awful colour gamut. It's still bad, and the resolution is low, but it is better than before.

            You can't argue this one. The Pandora's screen is far superior to the PSP's, in every way. (including power consumption, excluding price)

            No, but it does have a 10 hour battery life. And the batteries are cheap.
            http://www.circuitcentral.com.au/sony-psp-high-capacity-battery-3650mah-aftermarket.html [circuitcentral.com.au] [circuitcentral.com.au]

            Pandora batteries cost half as much. Mine was $19.99 shipped, 4250mah.

            These batteries get 14-16 hours in real-world tests with WiFi off - so it's not like a netbook where "14 hours" actually only gives 6 if you're running the CPU 100%. This is an actual 14-16 hours. I assume those batteries you linked do indeed give the PSP 10 hours of actual play time?... if you don't mind paying twice as much, each.

            Does it run hackable linux, with off-the-shelf compatibility with your favourite tools?

            Uh, yes again.

            That would be a "No". Thanks for the link though.

            Let me make this clear - the Pandora will almost be suitable as a desktop replacement. (form factor ignored) At launch it'll run software like OpenOffice, Firefox, Chromium, etc. - you could load it up with pen testing tools, use VNC/SSH... basically, you've got a fully featured desktop environment preinstalled on it, ready for linux apps to be loaded.

            If you want enough of them, its value shoots up far above other handhelds.

            Yes & right now there is a $200 difference. No where near enough value for the cost compared to a cracked PSP Slim if all you want to do with it is play games.

            If all you want to do is play $50 commercial games, buy a PSP or NDS or some other big-name console and play it. This is a device for developers first, users second. Not the other way around.

            I think you've just proven you're a user.

            • by Jaysyn (203771)

              I think you've just proven you're a user.

              Uh, no kidding?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Mr. DOS (1276020)

            Others have replied to your other points, but I just had to reply to this one...

            Yes again, PSP have been able to get online via WiFi from day one.

            Seriously? Have you ever tried surfing with the PSP's browser? It is painful. It's a horrid implementation of the Gecko engine on top of a poor Wi-Fi stack. It takes over thirty seconds to download a ~5MB file from another machine on the network, and yet it's somehow still faster to view webpages through a web-based proxy running on another computer on the network

        • by Duradin (1261418)

          Can you buy a pandora with a credit card? Last time I tried (a few years ago) they told me they couldn't take it, after a couple of months of hearing nothing from them. I can walk into any store or any online site and buy a psp with a credit card and not have to go through any seedy international bank transfers with absolutely no guarantee I'd receive anything other than a complimentary sucker.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gilesjuk (604902)

      It's still a good unit because of the controls, the fact it is open and the fact that the CPU is good enough to run numerous emulators.

      • They said the same thing about the GP2X (Pandora's predecessor) which had all of the same sorts of launch problems, plus a really bad "joystick" unit (Analog-style stick with 8-way digital base and huge dead zones that would make Christopher Walken blanche)

        Back in the GP2X days, the PSP wasn't playing PSX games yet so zodttd's "any day now" PSX emulator was the killer app, but it never really panned out since the hardware was just too weak. It could barely squeak by on SNES emulators, if you turned off a b

    • by ThoughtMonster (1602047) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:58PM (#32315052) Homepage

      Are you implying that our needs have changed so much during these two years?

      I'm pretty sure that the Pandora is still the most powerful portable game console out there. The battery is a dog (10+ hours of gaming), the controls are said to be more than solid, and the platform (ARM Cortex-A8) is far from obsolete.

    • Also it's not a console (i.e. sits in your entertainment center under your TV). It's a handheld. So when are we going to see the Phantom Console roll out? ;-)

    • by jo42 (227475)

      It also looks like something out of the 80's.

      You can get ARM9-based devices off of eBay for a third of the price:

      http://cgi.ebay.com/Arm-Arm9-S3C2440-Dev-Board-NEC-3-5-touch-screen-/230443507542 [ebay.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        And who -doesn't- want to have a dev board with sharp solder points stuck in their pocket? And who -doesn't- want to compile everything themselves and send it via the serial port? A dev board has its place, the one you linked to would be great for a small robotics project or even a little web-enabled alarm clock or something. For replacing the Pandora? No. The entire point why we buy "consumer" electronics is that most things are simply there, we download a few binaries a few ROMs and soon we are playing Su
      • by ravyne (858869)
        ARM's naming scheme is confusing -- What we know as ARM7 (such as in the GBA and many lower-end microcontollers) is an ARMv4 architecture. ARM9, IIRC, is ARMv5 architecture.

        The Cortex-A8 in the Pandora is a whole different beast -- an ARMv7 architecture (The very latest ARM multi-core architecture is ARMv8, I believe), which is ARM's first super-scalar processor (meaning that some of the execution resources execute independently and in parallel if the instruction stream is suitable). They also have a rath
    • True. Well said. Its kinda past its prime. What can i do with Pandora that i cannot with an iPad or Kindle or even an iPod touch. Naaah. Its an idea past its prime. Probably, if they harden it for Military usage, they will get a steady stream of money every year.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I guess you could say that the pandora is like the ultimate portable console, but only if you don't want to play any newer games.

      I don't know how much they're getting for these things, but they'd be a good deal at $200 or less. S-Video out is a little minimal now but not too bad, some devices still use composite, no kidding. But show me another device with similar specs and both keyboard and touch screen under $400, and I'll be impressed. (yes, the keyboard is pretty weak, but it's more than adequate for most phone-type tasks, so if you don't need your phone converged into the device, it's pretty sweet. theoretically.) If I could pay

    • Actually I was under the impression that the hardware was powerful enough to be capable of running Playstation and N64 games - the GP2X, it's spiritual predecessor, was basically "everything up to Playstation". The Pandora is still allegedly the most powerful dedicated gaming handheld (compared to eg. PSP and DS) and has a good range of controls and expansion. I think that makes it reasonably interesting even though it's not as powerful as a smartphone. It'd be nice if they were able to rev the hardware

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by negRo_slim (636783)

      2 years ago these specs would have been exciting

      Yeah it's time to live in the now and solder together your own Fusebox [ladyada.net].

    • by migla (1099771)

      This is like having an N900 without the phone functionality, with a (probably) better keyboard and the controls for half the price. In other words like a low powered computer that fits in your pocket.

      Pretty sweet in my opinion. If I had any money to waste, I'd get one just for the controls.

      • Yup, and with 256MB of RAM it's quite interesting. I currently have a Nokia 770 as my pocket computer. Coupled with a folding bluetooth keyboard, it's a relatively nice system, but feels underpowered. The Pandora is about 4 times faster, has a decent GPU, and four times as much RAM. I don't really care about it as a games console, but as a machine I can slip in a pocket and got and work in in a cafe by the sea, rather than lugging a laptop around, it looks interesting.
    • 2 years ago these specs would have been exciting, but with smartphones already pushing over 1ghz and 512mb ram, I don't see the appeal.

      It's not the CPU speed. It's the controls, and the developers behind the project.

      And even if other devices have faster internals, most have such high overhead OS's that you hardly get any power. The emulator devs are excited, because just about everything in the OS can shut off when you start a game, if it isn't needed.

      but my laptop does that and has a nice big screen too.

      Your laptop has dual-analog sticks, and R1/L1 buttons? Didn't think so.

      it seems like it will be so radically obsolete in a short period of time.

      Only if you define obsolescence by CPU speed rather than controls and form factor.

      There's no other clamshell handhelds w

  • but where are the games?

    • Re:That's nice... (Score:4, Informative)

      by TrevorB (57780) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:43PM (#32314928) Homepage

      "but where are the games?"

      http://dl.openhandhelds.org/cgi-bin/pandora.cgi [openhandhelds.org]

      It's an "open source" handheld with an eager development community, and games and other apps will come quickly once the hardware is released to the wild. By the time the pre-orders are complete and anyone not in the queue will be able to purchase one (and that will take a few months at this rate), there will be dozens of games available. Give it some time.

      • Riiiiight...... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770)

        Because there is such a vibrant open source game selection. I mean there's Tux Racer, that Civ 2 clone, that Puzzle Bobble Clone... ummm, did I mention Tux Racer?

        Seriously, gaming is one area that OSS does not seem to do well in. There are very few OSS games out there, and they tend to be of poor quality and/or knockoff of old commercial games. Now compare that to the Nintendo DS's games library, which is what this will have to compete with by the way.

        I just do not see the appeal.

        I mean if you want a portab

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Seriously, gaming is one area that OSS does not seem to do well in.

          This is because of the cost to produce very high quality games for any platform. This is also what has been a deal killer for Linux on the desktop, but Steam will soon be ported to Linux (just anounced the Mac port) and a bunch of games will be released for Linux, mainly older ports but still. (The source engine's dedicated server has been Linux forever).

          As a side note, the original Half Life, TFC, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat, and other m

        • by jimicus (737525)

          Seriously, gaming is one area that OSS does not seem to do well in. There are very few OSS games out there, and they tend to be of poor quality and/or knockoff of old commercial games.

          OSS doesn't tend to do very well in anything that involves a fair amount of tedium.

          A game engine might conceivably be developed with F/OSS methods but the graphics (which may well require drawing a hundred variants of exactly the same thing) are going to stop being interesting long before they're completed.

          • The problem isn't the tedium part. F/OSS people do a lot of tedious tasks too.

            The problem is, that the whole thing needs a basis which makes people interested to improve on. F/OSS people are not very good at putting together a comprehensive seed for a healthy game, as this is a quite complex task (you really need a development team with project coordinators, artists, programmers and other staff to get this done).

            Two examples of successful F/OSS games originating in commercial seeds are OpenTTD http://www.op [openttd.org]

            • Re:Riiiiight...... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @05:08PM (#32317008)

              The problem is the lack of a unifying vision. With an original project you need a project leader who can decide on the design but when the workers don't like the design dictated by the leader they leave (in a company they keep working because they're paid to work on things that may not strike their fancy). If you let everybody have a say you get design by committee or just a katamari of incompatible ideas. Deriving from an existing game, whether by making a clone or an opened codebase, at least gives a specific vision that any developer joining the project can see right away and most likely enjoys. I've seen a project where the gameplay was handled opensource style, the result is an ever-morphing mess that gains and sheds features as the participants see shiny objects and that got dominated by a derivative work that was rudimentarily maintained by one dude who followed the vision of the work it was derived from. Meanwhile players complained that the well-maintained project changed too much and was a different game every week.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I mean if you want a portable game unit, well then DS has this beat hands down. Not only does it have far, far, FAR more games and most of those are of professional quality...

          There isn't a single part of that statement that is true. The appeal of the Pandora is emulation. It can run MAME, SNES, DOS, Genesis, NES, Amiga, and a whole gaggle of stuff I think other people here have mentioned before. More importantly, it has a set of controls that really make that setup ideal to an enthusiast to somebody like me. It could probably even do N64, which would be totally tits.

          I have a GP2X Wiz right now. It can run most of the stuff the Pandora can. Although I am a Nintendo fanboy a

          • Given that you'd be downloading the ROMs online, and not paying for them. So I suppose that is a narrow market for it: If you want to emulate old games, are ok with not paying for them, and want to do it a small form factor then ok. However that is a rather narrow market there. After all anyone who wants to play emulated games at home would be better served with simply running them on a regular computer (or even a game console for that matter).

            I just don't see this as being very interesting personally.

            • I never said it was a big market. Also, nobody said Pandora was going after a big market.

              After all anyone who wants to play emulated games at home would be better served with simply running them on a regular computer (or even a game console for that matter).

              By that logic the DS, PSP, GBA, etc, should never have existed. Meanwhile, the technology has been around at least 4 or 5 years to play these on a portable system. A hacked PSP, for example, isn't too bad at playing SNES games. There is something to be said for having a whole gaggle of games ready to go on a system with roughly the same controls as an SNES. Actually, one of the really appealing features of a hacked

        • Seriously, gaming is one area that OSS does not seem to do well in.

          You clearly weren't around for the GP2X. Developers flock to these devices. For every high quality x86 linux FOSS game, there's about 20 on these handhelds. For quality and quantity, it even has the homebrew communities for the NDS and PSP (combined) beat.

          Plus, there's the emulators.

          And all the non-gaming stuff you can use it for.

          to $200 (for the unit and all accessories).

          But how much will you spend on games? $130 is a small difference if it saves me having to buy a netbook, too. I can take notes on this thing anywhere, browse the web, practice draw

      • by Kjella (173770)

        So..... a more accurate headline would be "First Pandora Console Reaches Developer"? Time to market is the time until there's an offering in the market a normal customer would buy, which is why every other console bothers so much with launch day games. In a few months it's called summer and console sales are at their lowest, so in practice nobody will look at this before the autumn.

      • It's an "open source" handheld with an eager development community, and games and other apps will come quickly once the hardware is released to the wild. By the time the pre-orders are complete and anyone not in the queue will be able to purchase one (and that will take a few months at this rate), there will be dozens of games available. Give it some time.

        http://xkcd.com/644/ [xkcd.com]

    • by migla (1099771)

      According to the relevant Wikipedia page, you can get emulators for Dreamcast, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Amiga, SNES, Atari Jaguar and Sega Mega Drive for the Pandora.

  • Poor pandorapress... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TrevorB (57780) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:38PM (#32314894) Homepage

    Looks like Gruso's blog got slashdotted pretty quickly.

    Here's some more links to keep people occupied:

    Official Site: http://www.open-pandora.org/ [open-pandora.org]
    Wikipedia Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandora_(console) [wikipedia.org]
    Pandora forums on GP32X: http://www.gp32x.com/board/index.php?/forum/61-pandora/ [gp32x.com]
    Craig Rothwell's Twitter feed (all kids of pics there): http://twitter.com/craigix [twitter.com]

  • Pandora? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @12:39PM (#32314896) Journal

    Don't open the box!

  • Dead link fix (Score:2, Informative)

    by masterwit (1800118) *

    Lovely accessed denied... just a snapshot of site:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Oa6IgGHvHHUJ:pandorapress.net/+site:pandorapress.net+pandorapress.net&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us [googleusercontent.com]
    That is Google cache version, not really helpful imo.

    http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/20/gp2x-community-system-dubbed-pandora/ [engadget.com]
    There is your engadget version, they always have nice pretty pictures there.

  • by Qubit (100461) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @02:22PM (#32315714) Homepage Journal

    I've been looking at their site and wikipedia and I haven't dug much up. There are a number of commercial chips in there, so the hardware is largely closed.

    They're using a "PowerVR SGX530" in there, and IIRC the PowerVR chips don't usually have FOSS drivers, so you might be SOL on that software front.

    Anyone have links or notes for the rest of the drivers?

    • They're using a "PowerVR SGX530" in there, and IIRC the PowerVR chips don't usually have FOSS drivers, so you might be SOL on that software front.

      While true, they are currently using the best SGX530 driver released to date. It's available to you, in case you want to roll your own distro or go with Ubuntu or Gentoo instead. The newest one handles OGL ES 1.1/2.0, and works with X11 with a < 2% performance penalty. (Windowed Quake3!... if you so desire)

      All the hardware has either FOSS drivers or publicly available binary blobs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      Jesus Christ.

      Do you want a useful portable game console that promotes OSS

      or

      Do you want a box full of crappy, buggy, half implemented OSS chips that don't do anything good, a lot of things partially, and are all around useless because the devs realized that there isn't an opensource 3d graphics chip thats ready, with all the supporting hardware and software NOW. There isn't an opensource processor with supporting hardware and reference implementations NOW.

      Get the fuck over the whole 'IT MUST BE ALL OSS OR I

  • First Pandora's Box opened!
  • So... (Score:3, Funny)

    by pat_trick (218868) on Sunday May 23, 2010 @03:36PM (#32316226) Homepage

    Will it run nethack?

    • by migla (1099771)

      >Will it run nethack?

      That's probably a rhetorical question? And modded funny. Does that make it sad that Nethack is the absolute killer app for me on the N900?

      • by fishexe (168879)

        Does that make it sad that Nethack is the absolute killer app for me on the N900?

        Nethack is the killer app. Period.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wertigon (1204486)
      Yes.
  • It sure looks like my Zipit. http://www.zipitwireless.com/ [zipitwireless.com]

  • All the people who pre-ordered where investors, anything else is in fact a lie. I believe for the second batch they will probably raise prices by a bit and automate some parts of the process which they did manually on the first run. I long for mine and hope I get it before my trip to london in july.
  • dangit slashdot. (Score:4, Informative)

    by atomicthumbs (824207) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {sbmuhtcimota}> on Sunday May 23, 2010 @06:29PM (#32317602) Homepage
    I fixed my blog, kinda. Thanks for breaking it :P
  • The Pandora... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wardred (602136)
    What you're getting with the Pandora is a hand-held, arm powered laptop - umpc if you prefer - with OpenGLES 2.xaccelerated graphics. Play your videos and music with it. Mix music, browse the web, do your normal desktop stuff with it, emulate arcade games, NES games, or, potentially, N64 games. Tinker with it to your heart's content. Put Android OS on it. Develop your own games for it. Or play some of the games the development community's been working on, or ported.

    It's not for everybody, but it's

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