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DevTerm - An Open Source Portable Terminal for Every Dev (clockworkpi.com)
466 points by cocoflunchy 57 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 162 comments

For everybody wondering what this is:

  DevTerm is a retro-entertainment terminal. Powerful hardware allows you to smoothly relive the history of various famous video games, software, and even vintage systems. DevTerm provides you with the latest open-source OS, rich applications, and development tools, from Web browsers, multimedia APPs to many indie-game engines.

  One more thing, just like LEGO, Gundam, Tamiya, the unique unboxing experience will be as exciting as many assembled toys.
As many have noticed, it is quite expensive and unergonomic. Their selling point is entertainment, nostalgia and cyberpunk feel, not really a useful tool. Quite cool if you are into that.

That beige thing at the top right is labelled Expansion Port. For some reason, I really want it to be the output for one of those built-in scroll printers like you'd find on an old calculator. I suspect it could be surprisingly useful. I could also imagine it being a complete waste of space and engineering.

It would at least be aptly retro.

From what I am understanding, that's exactly what that is. It looks like the shop sells the device with or without the `58mm 200dpi thermal printer component`.

The ergonomics is a deal breaker.

That keyboard is just an awful use of space. I would love to buy something in this form factor with a decent keyboard.

My old Kindle was perfect for this, small thumb-keyboard, great e-ink screen, amenable to homebrew.

Then an ex lost it reading Fifty Shades in an airport, and you can't buy them any more.

I'm saving up for a Remarkable.

If you're open to making it yourself, checkout /r/cyberdeck on reddit.

How do you know it's bad? It looks like it has a chance of being pretty usable.

The layout is just horrible. It would be a huge adjustment to go back and forth from an actual decent layout.

Not sure I would call it horrible, but when comparing with a TRS-80 model 100 keyboard then yes I would have preferred the layout of the latter.

If you like this you may like the cyberdeck subreddit. It's mostly homebrew computer cases (often using Raspberry Pi's) with various displays, keyboards, radios, etc., intended to look futuristic/cyberpunk.


I didn't know I needed this in my life. Thanks.

The flat design would seem to make this even less ergonomic than a laptop (an already low bar). Is this meant to be placed on a desk? The user would basically have to hang their head down to look at the display, which is just in front of their fingers. There is no possible way to maintain a healthy posture without an external display.

Otherwise, the retro hardware aesthetic is cool. Reminds me a bit of the early briefcase-format portable computers. I can't think of any actual use I would have for a thermal printer, but I like the idea of it.

I think it's meant to be reminiscent of the TRS 80 100. Even so, I agree: being entirely flat will cause many stiff necks.


Or the older Epson HX-20, considering the built-in printer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epson_HX-20

My thought exactly. I had great fun with my HX-20. That and a Tandy/Sharp Pocket Computer were my first programming experiences as a young child; I spent hours programming both.

Yeah we had a tandy 102 that was my dad's and that was the first thing I thought when I looked at it. It was a fun little computer my son used to write basic programs on it.

Also mind the various siblings of the TRS-80 Model 100, the NEC PC-8201(A), the Olivetti M-10, and the Kyotronic 85, which share the same basic design (by Kyocera).


Funnily enough, the Model 100 I bought at an electronics surplus store had two plastic rods with rubber feet included. You could push them into the screw wells on the back so that the Model 100 was angled like a desktop keyboard.

This kind of form factor is called a cyberdeck, and is inspired by cyberpunk fiction and roleplaying games. Most of the community has now converged on screens that tilt up for practicality's sake, but the flat ones do have a retro charm.

inspired by cyberpunk fiction and roleplaying games

It's a near copy of the TRS-80 Model 100. It's so close that the people behind this project have been flogging it on TRS-80 mailing lists and other fora.

I wonder, how can I find mailing lists that align with my interests? I am not interested in TRS-80, but I wonder if there are mailing lists for other topics that I am interested in

I find it hard to buy into this popular notion that the head isn't designed to look downwards: People have been reading books like this for thousands of years.

This version of ergonomics that implies "your neck is going to snap off if you look down" is suspect to me.

It's not a matter of design. We can look downwards and work in many positions, yes. However, is it healthy to work this way on a regular basis? I doubt it, but I am open to seeing evidence. I know that for me, it is not a good position; it will cause me back, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches if I work that way.

Anecdotally, I know many avid readers that have developed forward head posture and various pains from their habit.

I'm not sure people have been reading books flat on a desk or in their lap for thousands of years. After all, literacy was not widespread until relatively recent times. Furthermore, many scholar of the past would read and write on an erect, angled surface when possible: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/mediev... . Personally, I prefer to do the same when reading for any extended period of time.

We’ve been looking straight ahead and hunting things for much longer than we’ve been reading books. Looking straight down is definitely poor ergonomics.

It seems like a person would have to look down if they are making a flint tool from a rock, or when they are butchering a kill, or when they are gathering berries.

It is well understood that sitting in chairs is a very weird and unnatural thing for the human body. You’re not comparing like things here.

> People have been reading books like this for thousands of years

This does not make it healthy.

Besides, it's wrong: very few people had access to books for "thousands of years" and almost always they were kept on a reading stand, both due to the weight and to keep them safe and clean.

A simple google image search for "reading book" shows that people read at different angles, from in front of the face, to 45 degrees and indeed straight down on the table, or in the lap.

But unlike with this, we can easily shift position and angle with our books.

Ever heard of nerd neck?

The display is 6.5", so this is about the footprint of an iPad Mini. That, and considering it has gamepad buttons in the upperleft and upperright corners of the keyboard, I supsect you're expected to hand-hold it.

> I can't think of any actual use I would have for a thermal printer, but I like the idea of it.

Is that beige thing labelled Expansion Port a thermal printer? That's what it looked like to me but I couldn't find it identified as such anywhere.

I like the idea, too. I also suspect like you it would turn out to be completely useless. But I can also imagine you might find one or two use cases that turn it into a killer feature and totally validate the entire device.

Search the linked page for the words "thermal printer" and ye shall find

I think this quote from the page sums it up best:

>DevTerm is a post-modern, digital minimalist lifestyle.

It's more about signaling to others that you embody the "hacker lifestyle" than anything else. Looks cool, your friends will ooh and ahh over it, but probably won't get much use outside of that due to the ergonomics.

Yep, price doesn't justify the purchase, but for the "hipster-tax". This is basically a eg-booster.

>> DevTerm is a post-modern, digital minimalist lifestyle.

> It's more about signaling to others that you embody the "hacker lifestyle" than anything else.

The minimalist lifestyle would be repurposing an old device, not buying an extra one.

My laptop screen bends 180 degrees fully flat on the desk, I use this configuration with an external monitor but no external keyboard. Maybe that's how you would use this system most of the time, just plug an external monitor and ignore the built-in one.

> There is no possible way to maintain a healthy posture without an external display.

I know a physical therapist who would strongly disagree with this; in fact he explicitly recommends to use a laptop for ergonomic reasons unless you can achieve a proper, ergonomic setup with an external screen. The reason being that if used properly(laptop far back so you can rest the whole forearms and elbows on the table) the angles and positioning are supposed to be pretty good.

I'm not an expert in this area myself, but some of my problems were alleviated by following his advice and he only uses a laptop himself, so I believe him on that one.

That said you're right in that this flat design without a foldable screen is not exactly made for long work hours. I'd say for a session on the go with the device sitting on the lap it could be worse, though at least a detachable/external keyboard would help a lot.

> the angles and positioning are supposed to be pretty good

This seems hard to imagine, your neck is still going to be strained by looking "down" on the screen all the time. If you have to work with a laptop and don't have access to an external screen at least put it up on a pile of books and use an external keyboard / mouse. That doesn't cost much and improves your posture so much.

Experience and my neck agrees with you. Sitting properly, my neck would has to be at about a 35° - 45° angle to see the screen at all. It's a guaranteed tension headache.

> This seems hard to imagine

It is, but real experience tells me it can work well.

As I mentioned, having a proper setup with an external screen(or your equivalent suggestion of propping up the laptop and using external input devices) is better in comparison, but knowing how to properly use a laptop if that's not possible is important as well.

Given OSHA's recommendations on setting up a computer workstation, I think perhaps you need a new physical therapist:


As it literally says in that text you linked, not every posture works for everyone. I did not claim that a laptop leads to the best situation for ergonomics, I just wanted to debunk the "there's no way using a laptop could ever be healthy" claim which both a professional I know as well as my own experience don't agree with. It can be healthy, though admittedly most people don't do it right.

I'm glad I listened to his advice because it seemed to fix my issues for good. If you found a comfortable setup that's different then that's great as well.

Your original post wasn't just limited to "in my case". Your original post talked about your PT specifically claiming laptops were better.

> I just wanted to debunk

> a professional I know

Please provide proper sources, not random hearsay.

Clearly we need something like OSHA to enforce minimal workplace safety, but is OSHA meaningful as an authority on general health issues like computer use? A couple of years ago I might have said yes, but after recent events I find it really hard to put much weight on the opinions of these bureaucratic agencies.

The truth is, it's really hard to do a double-blinded study for these kinds long-term health concerns.

That quote is specifically in reference to this flat device. I agree that with a laptop you can achieve a relatively ergonomic posture if you set it up the way you describe, which minimises the "hunch" and strain, although you can do much better with some accessories. When I work away from home I use a laptop with a laptop stand ( https://www.therooststand.com/ ) and external HIDs.

Of course, any good physical therapist will tell you that no hardware can offset the damage of long-term sedentary work. One might say that more active time is the best ergonomic solution.

Yeah, it looks awesome but I'd be more likely to prop my phone up and use termux + tmux and an external keyboard...

A lot of people focusing on the fact that it's kind of a toy, but isn't that the point? I have a GameShell (gameboy-shaped Linux computer also made by Clockworkpi) and the best part about it is the vibrant and active community that continues to hack on OS images and programs (and of course games!) to this day. I don't use it every day, but it's very high quality, was super fun to build, and has only gotten better with time.

I trust these people to make a great device that works well, gets support, is fully open source, and is super fun to play with.

This looks fantastic. Utterly useless, but fantastic.

Never in my fevered dreams while wrestling with this kind of display gear and accompanying terminal experience in the dark ages of computing, cursing the foul limitations and wishing I could jump forward a few decades, did I ever imagine people would pay to get the same experience I was going through back then. Sure, today there is a nostalgic twinge for my long-trashed yute, but not so nostalgic to pay for reliving it.

These days, I want a cybernetic-augmented vision-nerves-proxy that projects as many windows and other visual artifacts as I want into my visual cone, and typing directly keyed off my brain's Broca's Area (or maybe the area for neuromuscular control of my fingers if using Broca's Area proves to yield too slow an input response). Hopefully powered by nano-powerplants hoovering up fatty acids and adipose cells from my blood, oxidizing into ATP, and generating electricity from the ATP. Hopefully thermal management is sufficient by drinking more water and exhaling more water vapor.

When I studied, X-Terminals were rare, and always in use as people used them to explore this wonderous new World Wide Web.

At the same time, we had rooms full of green text terminals that nobody bothered with anymore. You could just jump on one at any time. And because they were distraction-free, they were really great at getting actual work done. No facebook or yahoo or whatever crap it was at that time to distract you :) I kinda miss that. Though it's hard these days to work without documentation and stackoverflow on the side. But needing to invent every wheel did mean making better code in general, I think. It was just a lot slower.

But yeah I've been looking to replicate that experience for a long time. This isn't it though.

> ...we had rooms full of green text terminals that nobody bothered with anymore... > ...I've been looking to replicate that experience for a long time.

I am gobsmacked that eBay sellers are fetching $200+ USD on "vintage" DEC and similar terminals (there was a time they were going for $50 a pop, and if you got your timing right, you could haul them away for free from a university that was transitioning away from them), but if you can afford a big room, then you can afford a herd of terminals to stuff into them, and the serial multiplexer.

Handling distractions got easier when I identified the kind of tasks I really didn't personally like to do and what in my personality caused that antipathy, and set up reward systems for doing them at first, and later delegate them to an employee.

Yea ... I dunno. This feels like e-waste before it even ships. I hope people who order this actually use them and make cool things.

Reminds me of the short lived netbook-fad but more stylish and less useful

This looks like an 5th grader sketched their perfect computer and then a GAN turned it into a real design.

Reminds me of the trs 80 model 100, which was extremely popular with journalists and was powered by AA batteries.


Crossed with the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epson_HX-20 which had a built-in printer.

Yes, or indeed the later and cheaper Z88 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Z88

I personally like the gameshell kit but this is fun too. I wonder what the build quality is but the fact that the screen doesn't tilt is a turn off for me personally (neck issues) and don't see myself typing on that keyboard while holding it in my hands. I got a pocketchip which is has been discontinued and that had a much worse keyboard but the form factor was a bit better suited for handheld computing. At this point I wish the pocketchip had the performance of this device or this device had that form factor or had a tiltable screen.

There is a bulge at the back that gives it a bit of an angle on a desk.

This looks sweet.

To me, the physicality of one of the "fantasy consoles" mixed with a bit more power might make for some interesting games and projects. The only thing I would wonder is if they could tilt that screen up a bit like an AlphaSmart.

“post-modern”? Not a word I’d ever imagine applied to a gadget. Like, the gadget has existential angst or some sh..

Well, design can be postmodern (like postmodern architecture), but this is not that.

Neat idea, but it'll end up being just another ARM SoC SBC with a fancy case that people will buy and then forget about. I don't really need yet another machine that boots to Linux that runs better elsewhere.

Unless there's a compelling use case or novel platform that gets people really excited, these things are hard to get a large committed audience for.

I'd be interested if they stuck a RISC-V SoC in there -- like say the Kendryte K210.

I want one to leave in the drawer with all my Raspberry Pi's.

The problem is not making these things available but the impulsive buyers who get these with no project in mind. All these soc are not really meant to replace a daily driver but be project specific and only imagination is the blocker here.

Personally I applaud the trend of making these devices. They will inspire countless future hackers the way a lot of us have been inspired before.

It very much looks like a cool toy and I am tempted to get one, but that's exactly what would happen to mine. And I expect that a significant portion of people who purchase it will also play with it for a couple hours and then never touch it again. Which makes me kind of upset that it's being manufactured. Feels like it's just encouraging creating more plastic/electronics waste.

Same here - on the other hand I'm thinking this would be the perfect type of computer for my kid to inherit from me (if I ever have one of those). It feels like the right format, intentionally hackable, open about how it works etc.

It feels closer to the Ataris' and Amigas' etc that many of use grew up with. Even if it doesn't live up to that kind of flexibility, it's far better than the damage of handing a kid an android or iOS "appliance".

I mean, it looks like a nice tool if you take it to debug on-site devices.

I would buy something like this if it had HDMI and VGA in, and could let me use as a portable console to plug into machines.

I recently picked up a Motorola LapDock from eBay. It was originally used as a keyboard, trackpad, and screen in a laptop format for the Atrix smartphone, but with some converter cables, you can plug into any machine with HDMI and USB and use it exactly as you describe. It's finicky, but works well enough to be useful. Total cost for the LapDock and cables was under $100.

Totally. A portable KVM/crash cart could be useful.

take a look at NexDock - laptop form factor, without the innards. just a keyboard, trackpad, screen, and battery waiting to connect to a phone, server rack, pi, or what have you.

That's pretty cool. I wonder how hard it would be to add USB-C docking capability to an old server in my homelab. Seems like a graphics card with Virtual Link USB-C [0] would be ideal, but maybe overkill. There are some other options [1] but it's not clear to me how much graphic horsepower you need. Definitely a VGA-only motherboard is not gonna cut it...

[0] https://uploadvr.com/every-virtuallink-gpu/

[1] https://dancharblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/20/add-usb-c-with-...

I second this, have one of the Touch models - the build quality is great. Yes it works with my Samsung on which I have Ubuntu via VNC running on the phone. But also and more useful for me is it has HDMI in and USB out for keyboard and mouse, works perfectly for when you need a kvm setup. did I say the build quality is great?...

Only downside is the piece of junk trackpad that registers registering itself as a mouse and not a trackpad...resulting in no palm-rejection and crappy gesture functionality.

$270 is a lot for an empty laptop.

Seems like the Pinebook guys could make a decent competitor.

You can order a USB HDMI capture dongle for around USD 10 on AliExpress, e.g., from AIXXCO. It's not perfect but it should suffice to setup or debug a headless system. TinyPilot uses such a dongle for server KVM purposes.

So much this. I want a display, a VGA in, a keyboard and something that is capable of running a terminal and a switch for VGA in and the built-in Raspberry/Odroid/whatever. I would pay anything up to $500-600.

Found nothing so far.

Edit: forgot RJ45.

I mean this thing has plenty of room in the case and should be compatible with TinyPilot: https://mtlynch.io/tinypilot/

It's not a turn-key solution, but it's not that far off.

Yeah RJ45 is a HUGE miss on modern laptops. Nothing like a fast stable wired connection.

I think that’d be the use of it. Quick and simple stuff that you otherwise don’t want to configure a laptop around performing. It’s not a “use this for hours at a time” and daily driver. Not sure of the breadth of that use case.

Definitely think that's where they will be going. For most of us being the sort of dev that uses this sort of thing is a fantasy. For the very few it's a reality chances are they've already got something half as useful, 20x the price that will do one or 2 critical things this can't, and most will have not interest in creating and add-on so it can do them.

OT: I fell into the rabbit hole of designing hardware (something like this). Just don't do it, it's super fun but it doesn't pay off: every SoC is different and you start with every SoC from scratch and waste tons of time. Prototyping is slow, you need min 2 weeks for every iteration (for smaller endeavors) and the worst, 98% of hardware-based business models are weak and don't provide any lock-in.

They're basing this (and their other product, the GameShell, which looks like an old Gameboy) on the Raspberry Pi compute module. I believe they have their own PCB to fit into their formfactors, but the SoC should be well-supported.

I think it's kind of annoying that 90% of the comments here are about ergonomics. Undoubtedly this is a relevant issue, but also seems like the least interesting aspect of this creative gadget to comment on.

I can't even imagine the pain in neck, eyes and fingers from using this for any amount of time, looks kind of fun though, but, useless

Seems terribly unergonomic. A laptop is bad enough. This doesn’t even have a full size keyboard. What is with that layout?

I like the concept, but it needs to be two pieces - screen and keyboard - so they can be positioned appropriately, and it needs a full size keyboard with a track point.

You could just about hack something up like this with a tablet that can run Linux and a Thinkpad keyboard, like this one: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/accessories-and-monitors/new-ar...

Having the display at some angle would dramatically improve the ergonomics. I guess joints+ffc would increase cost quite a bit, but even a fixed angle would be improvement

Very dubious about the placement of the trackpoint-like-thing..

More for young developers with eagle eyes, that can't afford it, not for elder developers with enough money, but presbyopia.

I'm an old fogie & will just be setting a huge terminal font size.

Looks pretty neat! But what's the point of the thermal printer? Is this supposed to be used as a portable cash register?

I would use it with the adhesive thermal paper for labelling up infrastructure, it sounds like it could make a decent administration machine. An Ethernet jack might be needed though.

Something like this is much better suited to that purpose: https://brothermobilesolutions.com/products/handheld-printer...

This has potential advantage of being able to register the thing you label in a database.

It makes me think about when I was young, and my friend had the Sinclair ZX80 and the printer that came with it.

I think there's lots of creative use cases for it, I could imagine printing out chunks of my source code as I'm programming, to reference as I work on other parts.

I’ve imagined using a thermal printer as a semi-unattended packet radio terminal that wouldn’t lose messages when the batteries died.

I'd like one but the keyboard on this one is, frankly, dreck. On a terminal, nothing beats a good keyboard. I'd put up with it being reflective monochrome LCD (sign me up if you know someone who makes these – I would finally be able to work in sunlight), but the keyboard must be top notch.

The printer makes the use case obvious: you show up at the client's location. Do some terminal magic and print the invoice.

Genius :)

I have and like the gameshell from clockworkpi. I'm particularly intrigued by the "Volume VIZ" window on the stock image and curious if that's a real pic or a staged/rendered one.

This is just stupid, impractical, pointless... I want one!

I used to own an Epson HX-20 and at the time it was amazing:


Now? I'm not entirely sold on what looks like pretty mediocre ergonomics. Apparently the price is through the roof too.

It was forth the click for the nostalgia, but I have zero interest in spending a fist full of cash for a toy.

Out of curiosity, how did a computer of that age make use of two general purpose CPUs?

One controlled the keyboard, memory, and LCD, and the other the printer, speaker, and cassette drive, and apparently communicated with each other over a serial bus.

Not entirely sure myself, I was pretty young when I had it and just used it for writing fairly simple BASIC programs.

Making it so you can prop/tilt the display up + making the display e-ink would make it my dream typewriter.

I wish Clockwork would make a batch of the GameShells again. I've been wanting one for a while, but they've been out of stock every time I check


You're not the only one to notice. They had some manufacturing delays due to covid: https://forum.clockworkpi.com/t/gameshell-out-of-stock/5864

I'd like them to make a V2 with proper triggers, the V1 seems to be the best made console out of all of these linux handheld.

Yeah, I just got mine in hand a couple of days ago.

First impressions: the default setup is surprisingly good, for what it is. Works a lot better out-of-box than my Ouya ever did, for what it's worth.

Buttons are a little squishy. Not every app supports the menu button. I've had to hard-power-off the device to get out of certain apps. The back-side strip of buttons is a little awkward, though I understand why they did it that way (it's meant to be an add-on).

There is a port next to the USB port that isn't labeled or documented on the website. I think it's HDMI Type D "Micro".

Hooooly hell, there is ZERO documentation for this thing. How do you actually write games for it? I guess you just make a standard GTK application, from what I can see in the forums. There's support for a few popular fantasy consoles and emulators, but making a native app is not clear.

Also, it has an SSH server on by default, but I've yet to be able to get connected to it. Nothing on the forums about it. They just say "you just SSH in over the WiFi".

EDIT: LOL, whoever put this together before me put the speakers in upside down.

It's really easy to connect to the device over SSH. Just open the tiny cloud app and read the directions on the screen. On my macbook I just open terminal, type 'ssh cpi@<ip address>' and the password is also just 'cpi'. There's loads of information on the forums for this as well, but you can start here: https://forum.clockworkpi.com/t/how-to-transfer-files-with-t...

As for creating native games, that's not really the intention with this thing. It's more for running fantasy consoles on or running any of the many included emulators. I use mine to playtest my Pico8 games and play new releases.

Yeah, I did all that. I think there is something wrong with the WiFi on the device. It can connect to my WAP just fine, but any operation involving a network update (like refreshing the Warehouse listing, or updating software) fails.

agree. I just discovered it browsing around from this article, and was disappointed to see you can't actually buy one. Would have made a great Christmas gift!

They had some manufacturing delays due to covid: https://forum.clockworkpi.com/t/gameshell-out-of-stock/5864

Well, I just managed to get one on eBay for about $120.

Full cyberdeck vibes, I love it!

Although this isn't something I would buy, I'm glad it's being done with open hardware. It gives me hope that there will always be some hardware to support open source software.

I don't have much faith in preorders from small hardware vendors, so I'll pass. In truth, if I wanted to do recreational programming I'd put Temple OS on a T60.

LOL I'm just assuming my preorder is a donation towards a fun R&D project... if it ever ships I'll be pleasantly surprised.

This is a cool idea as an art project (obviously it's meant to look like a TRS-80 model 100), or some sort of retro mid-1980s cyberpunk thing, but in terms of practicality for real use, almost nil.

If you want a real distraction-free portable terminal for stuff like this, take an old netbook or super thin laptop, install openbsd on it (or a very minimal debian), and then use a text mode multi session manager like screen or termux to do everything in the CLI.

Lacks an ethernet port!

I Think this is fantastic.

Lots of people seem to be moaning about how the keyboard is going to feel aweful. Well so what, its portable got a wide-arsed screen and a printer

Looks fantastic.

This together with pico-8 / tic-80 will be great!

I thought this was literally something like iTerm2 with its own dedicated hardware. Creating a retro terminal like that and one that uses modern hardware under the hood with a large mechanical keyboard would be a blast. For added bonus if it could run Sublime Text it'd be even more amazing.

Looks great! I think my 12 year old nephew would love this. He's just getting into coding and hacking.

Tandy did this many years ago, with better ergonomics.

[edit] It was really a Kyocera machine branded by Tandy (and others) I knew a Bell Labs department head that owned one back in the late 1980s and used it while traveling. The ergonomics on them was really quite good.

That trackball with the buttons miles away looks really unergonomic.

And why go for the Rpi 3 CM when the 4 is out now? That's sad as it leaves a lot of upgradability behind.

PS: What are those wheels on the side? They look a bit typewriterish but I assume they are for something else?

The CM4 was only announced in November and the form factor completely changed compared to all the previous generations. I think the design improvements are positive, but it was a shock for those who have designed around the <=CM3+ with long-term plans in mind.

I think anyone buying a device like this is likely a heavy keyboard user already and will only use the trackball on occasion.

The keyboard layout is a bit awkward for a development console. I'll would prefer a more standard 65% layout like the whitefox or Drop ALT Keyboard. I think they choose the layot to have a gameshell compatible keys, but not sure if good decision.

Wouldn't a cheap tablet be much more productive and cost effective?

Do you know any tablets with thermal printers that are most cost effective than this one?

Having a bluetooth thermal printer in my bag seems more handy than having it attached to the device all the time. Should be very cheap.

Or a bluetooth keyboard for your smartphone. You can have Bluetooth mechanical keyboards for cheap nowadays.

For what goal?

> USB POGO Pin on the back of the keyboard is naturally connected to the mainboard, saving you the tedious operation of cable connection

Are pogo pins ok for long-term connections?

Not an expert but I would say yes. The springs will fail eventually but if they're high enough quality they should last for tens of years at-least...

Depending on how heavily they're loaded however you might get some connectivity issues with vibrations...

A5 is too small, at A4 I would be interested. Are those volume/brightness controls on the sides, or are they just decorative?

afaik the "knobs" are decorative fasteners that snap together the front and back plates of the device. They are not functional knobs.

That's a shame. Those could have been useful for adjusting volume, brightness, zoom/scale, h/v scroll, etc.

afaik the "knobs" are decorative fasteners that snap together the front and back plates of the device. They have no active function.

I don't get it, what would you use it for? (apart from trying to look retro cool at the nearest overpriced coffee place)

When you know you have to spend the next couple of hours thinking hard about something, so you go somewhere contemplative to work it out. In that case, you just need a compact, reliable device to take a couple of notes or code up a simple algo.

Like a laptop with wifi off?

Yay!! the new Thinkpad nano is finally here!!!

Any idea how does one make those product renders? Is it standard keyshot/blender or any other software?

The slight noise would suggest they're ray-traced... Could be Blender with the Cycles renderer (perfectly capable of doing photo-realistic renders) or any of the wide array of commercial renderers out there...

A portable with a mech keyboard is what I've been wanting for years. Are there other options btw?

That screen looks like a good candidate to recreate the Vaio P form factor.

Agreed, I bet one of the first things modders will do is figure out how to add a hinge, both for better portability, as well as to help tilt the screen. (assuming it ever ships...)

People are comparing this to 80’s 8-bit micro aesthetic, but I think the real comparator here is to 1. modern thin oscilloscopes, and 2. mainframe “support element” console pseudo-notebooks.

I want to talk a little bit more about that second one, because some people here probably haven’t heard of them:

If you buy a mainframe computer, there’s usually going to be a “local administration console” of some kind built in. This is usually something that looks like a laptop, but which isn’t a laptop per se; it’s repurposed laptop hardware—just the screen and the keyboard—built into hinge-out design such that it’s flat and tucked away into the mainframe chassis itself when not in use. When you pull it out, it springs out and the keyboard hinges up and locks, such that you can use it as a laptop.

But crucially, this “laptop” is not its own computer — rather, it’s wired to be the local display + keyboard of a little accessory server (the aforementioned “support element”) running within the mainframe chassis. And because that accessory server runs the top-level Baseboard Management Controller for the mainframe as a whole, that interface is the management interface for the mainframe — but not a watered-down IPMI web interface; rather, a full-fat GUI client interface with observability and control over the rest of the mainframe.

I’ve always found this “support element” peripheral hardware inspiring as a design approach. Not for the specific hardware involved, or the specific way these attach to the server, but for how the idea behind them could be generalized. Because this hardware interface is essentially an evolution of an older idea — putting a textual management interface as a TTY on a serial port, and giving the mainframe its own VT100-alike connected to that serial port. This is that, but graphical, and with support for things like plugging USB devices into the “laptop” hardware. What’s missing, is the protocol. Only this “laptop” can connect to the support element. But what if anything could?

Imagine if there was a modernized equivalent standard for “a serial port with a TTY attached to it”: a USB-C sub-protocol carrier supporting bonded USB and HDMI, but not to the host—rather, sandboxed under the IOMMU, routed to either the computer’s BIOS, its BMC, or its dom0 VM. Imagine if devices like laptops, tablets-with-keyboards, etc. could run “fullly-graphical terminal emulator” apps, that would support speaking this protocol with such hosts.

If this kind of standard existed, then, as an ops person, you wouldn’t need these built-in support-element peripherals on mainframes; you’d just carry around your laptop, and the mainframe would maybe have a stand to set it on and a retractable USB-C cable; and plugging the cable into your laptop with your fully-graphical terminal emulator open would get you a management console, supporting not just mouse/keyboard interaction but USB redirection, just as if you were running a local VM.

And you would get the same thing if you plugged your laptop into an Intel workstation supporting (and configured for) AMT; or any machine running a bare-metal hypervisor like ESXi. Plug a terminal into that port; get a management console.

Of course, it’s kind of clumsy to carry a laptop around. You’d want something more like one of these thin, modern oscilloscopes — something you can nestle in the crook of your arm while prodding at it with your other hand, or prodding at the computer-under-test itself.

Which — finally — is exactly the use-case DevTerm seems to be built for.

A shame that use-case is, for now, imaginary!

(I would note that Samsung’s DEX wire-protocol for “extending” Android devices to peripheral docks is very close, but not exactly the same. Maybe it could be adapted to fit this use-case!)

I wish the expansion port was more cartridge-like.

could be keyboard with a GIANT touch bar

the first pic makes it look like a modern Tandy 100, which would be awesome.

But unfortunately, it is much tinier.

Why not just use a X230?

Because, as someone brilliantly said above, it's more about signaling to others that you embody the "hacker lifestyle" than anything else.

The minimalist lifestyle of repurposing an old device, not buying an extra one, would fail to signal your "hacker spirit" as you would not stand out so much - unless say, you add bolts reminiscent of frankenstein to the side of the screen, but you'd need a good excuse, or you might get called out.

This perfectly achieves the goal, with plausible deniability for the bolts: "it was built like that to make opening faster" - as if Phillips head screwdrivers were at a premium...

I'm skeptical that an X230 user is somehow signaling any less than a user of this device.

X230, X220 etc. are available for a fraction of the cost of this device

What is it? Is it laptop? A tablet? A keyboard? I'm confused.

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