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Linux Handheld Computer, Pyra, Available for Preorder (pyra-handheld.com)
55 points by bananaoomarang on May 1, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

Is this just a rebranding of the Pandora computer? It looks like it has been updated (they probably didn't originally have SIM card capabilities in the Pandora, which was gaming-focused I believe), but I haven't really kept track of the project, and it's not obvious from the linked page.

I have absolutely no need for this computer, but really want one. What would you use it for?

Its not a re-branding - its more like the next version. It'll run the same software, but its a new generation of the same concept.

Pandora -> Version 1. Pyra -> Version 2.

(I use my two Pandora for gaming, Linux hacking, and as a portable console/interface to other larger systems. Its an amazing, amazing device..)

At the moment I find myself carrying around a netbook (EeePC 901) and a smartphone (Xperia Mini Pro, slidey keyboard). I'm going to replace both of them with one of these - it's well over twice as powerful as them put together. You might think it's a wee big to use as your main smartphone, but I'm psyched by the ability to run desktop software comfortably on something that fits in a jacket pocket (apparently the nubs are easily precise enough to use as a mouse). Desktop software beats the pants off "apps", in the free software world at any rate. I actually don't give much of a hoot about the gaming controls - I think of it as like a chunky Neo900.

I'd like to have a go at controlling a wifi quadcopter with it though :)

>I'd like to have a go at controlling a wifi quadcopter with it though :)

I have two Pandora, and have done just this, albeit BTLE instead of Wifi (Edit: see http://flexbot.cc for a compatible device)! The nubs are superlative for the job - quite high resolution - and very ergonomic. I daresay the Pandora/Pyra are a perfect reprogrammable wifi controller for RC hobbyists .. I've considered trying to wire up a FrSky interface or something, but never got around to it .. maybe when my Pyra arrives I'll have another go.

BTW, I ported CRRC-Sim to the Pandora, and its really, really nice. Probably the best RC-sim platform I've ever played - having the nubs, and the screen all integrated into a handheld portable controller .. really, really nice! Hope you enjoy the experience too - watch for the CRRCSim port for Pyra, when you get it!

That's seriously awesome. You can get tiny FPV wifi quadcopters for pocket change from China these days, seems like the Pyra would be a perfect companion device.

Regarding CRRCSim, that's fantastic news. I'd never even heard of that sim. I got my first full-size CP helicopter last year and have only managed to not crash it by extensive sim practice in "HeliSimRC". It looks like CRRCSim can handle helicopters - if so, it's just about the perfect on-the-go timewaster program for me; even has the same control layout as the real thing!

Yeah you're really going to enjoy CRRCSim on the Pyra, I promise! Probably the best sim setup for RC hobbyists around .. at least in terms of hardware integration.

If you do get into FPV wifi+Pyra, let me know ..

I too use a netbook (Lenovo x120e) and an Xperia mini pro. I want to replace both and really like the look of the Asus X205TA but there doesn't seem to be any updare on the mini pro. The Pyra seems awkwardly in between the two, without the advantages of either.

Advantages of the phone:

  Works as a phone
  Small enough to carry always
  Has GPS
  Socially acceptable to use in a pub/restaurant
  Touchscreen allows rapid interface navigation
Disadvantages of the phone:

  Annoying OS
  Low spec, not enough RAM
  Browser forgets tabs
  Tiny screen
Advantages of the netbook:

  Runs a real OS, easy to control
  Mature software ecosystem, real web browser
  Faster CPU
  Clamshell form factor protects screen, acts as stand
  USB ports, can read flash drives and SD cards
Disadvantages of the netbook:

  Showing age, 1gb RAM and replacements are too large (901 was the last 9 inch netbook)
  Battery won't last a full day
  Still awkwardly large for some scenarios, not easy to hold and type standing up
  Screen only 1024x600, some websites cramped
Advantages of the Pyra:

  all advantages listed above
Disadvantages of the Pyra:

  none of the disadvantages listed above
So where you see awkwardness, I see the ideal middle ground.

I have a bit of trouble seeing a use case here, especially for a price tag of 330-400€. If I want linux, a decent screen and a good battery, I'll buy a Chromebook for 200€ and install Linux on it. If I want Linux tools and a small screen, I'll use my Motorola MotoG with GNURoot Debian and a bluetooth keyboard.

This is a portable handheld gaming device with excellent controls, a fantastic hardware design, and most important of all: a simply fantastic community, which will support the device like no other gaming-console manufacturer can.

Its open source. There are things happening on this platform that won't happen anywhere else (see: dynamic-recompilation that brings x86 titles to ARM, seamlessly), and its frankly one of the most exciting new platforms for gaming out there.

Which portable handheld gaming console has a repo like this - http://repo.openpandora.org/ ? :)

this is what i hoped the 'oooyeah' would become.. what a train wreck that revealed itself to be

i'm glad pandora, now pyra, and community is out there, even if this pyra is out of my price range

I think it really matters that the guys behind the Pandora/Pyra are open source enthusiasts, and not only can they talk the talk, but walk it too.. I mean, the thing with the Ooya was that there were just Too Many Suits involved, trying to cash in.. in this case, its techies driving the ship, and well .. it shows! The products are awesome! :)

And that's just the downpayment on the pre-order they go above $700 depending on the model. I would have been tempted for 400.

This is awesome news! A rag-tag bunch of hackers got together and made their own hardware device. They stuck it out - battling con artists, economic destitution, and even a freakin' volcano - and managed to get the Pandora out there in spite of it all.

And now, they're doing it again! We have an open-source friendly (http://repo.openpandora.org/) portable gaming console that is owned and operated by the people, for the people. Not a major corporation, not some faceless entity - real hackers, accessible to you and me, pulling it off where nobody else dared to even try.

I can't wait to have a Pyra in my hands! It'll be a very welcome companion to the two Pandora I already have .. Sweet news guys!

They have a demo video of an early prototype unit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4t9Ys8wI6k

I own an OpenPandora, and I adore it.. 8 year old tech, originally sold by a fraud (not involved in Pyra) and supported by a small team of super passionate fans running a community as a hobby.

I've preordered and cannot wait to upgrade my Pandora, which I use every few days.. even if it's just playing PS1 games on the train.

Been waiting for this project ever since it was announced, a most worthy upgrade from my Pandora. What width the potential for DC, PSP and PC emulation along with 4G, this should cover most of my mobile needs, maybe I can even get rid of my smart phone for something with days or weeks of battery time again.

What's the usecase for the Cortex-M4s? Is it smart enough to off-load non-computationally intensive work to the 16-bit chips for "low power", or are they serving some other purpose?

As mentioned in the sibling, media codec is the nominal case. They are included in the SOC, not something specific to this project.

Being ARM Cortex processors, they are 32 bit. Allocate them a chunk of RAM, upload a program and set them running. TI has a driver infrastructure and sample gstreamer CODECs.


CODEC's, mostly .. but in this scene (disclaimer: longstanding Pandora user, GP2X before that) you can never be sure just what someone will do with it .. graphics driver, OpenGL accelerator, synth engine, etc. There really are some genius hackers in this crowd - having it onboard means someone will do something amazing with it.

As a mobile linux solution i am looking forward to the pocketCHIP which should arrive this month. A bit basic maybe but cheap and useful enough for non-graphical stuff. At least thats what i hope.

I am looking forward that device's release as well. If it turns out well I will order one.

Related question: What's the linux application situation on arm devices? Of particular interest is the emulator and office / productivity situation.

It is, simply put, superlative. On ARM we have most of the things that Linux users are used to, plus things such as dynamic recompilation being used to bring older x86 titles to the platform. Did you know you can run things like Starcraft on ARM because of the OpenPandora platform? :)

As an example, archlinuxarm has a really big fraction of the packages in the original x86 plain archlinux. It's very usable. I don't think you'll feel much of a difference unless you get into things like scientific computing. But then you would not be buying a little ARM device I guess.

Will you be able to put a ThinkPad TrackPoint on the nubs?

Amazingly, yes. The whole thing disassembles by unscrewing, and as the nubs are separate components you could replace them with whatever you wanted. Given that both TrackPoints and the nubs use a square peg, it might even just fit without an adapter.

However it still wouldn't work the same - a TrackPoint responds to force, while the nubs actually move.

I can't find this info anywhere: is the screen matte?

It is, at least on the Pandora. I don't think this has changed for Pyra ..

The site is very slow for me, can someone confirm this?

(when I click on "Click here to preorder" for example, maybe it has problems handling the traffic?!)

Maybe its running on a Pyra.

considering what websites used to run on 10 or 20 years ago, today's mini-computers (pyra / raspberry pi / ...) are more than capable of hosting websites and can deal with more traffic than you might think. that being said I doubt that's the case here (though I also don't think you were serious).

ordered mine just now <3

Me too! Can't wait!

Wow that site is so responsive it hurts, never see sites that actually expand to a 2560x1440 screen.

Is this a joke?

Modular, Open Source hardware may seem to be a joke to some people. :S

I'm looking forward to developing full stack ES6 application on the go on my Pyra! Finally the power of Linux at my fingertips even on the BART! Though I hope the Debian can be changed to Arch...

There is no reason ArchARM shouldn't work out of the box... I might even consider branching off a release

No. Why do you think it could be a joke?

Because it looks like a cell phone from 2005? because it has a small screen running what, if the product image is accurate, seems to be an unmodified desktop version of the OS? It's a usability nightmare.

I don't know about the joke part but I cant see it appeal of it.

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