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[flagged] Pine64's $30 Linux Smartwatch Launches (pcmag.com)
37 points by teleforce 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments





Ok, so, important thing to know THE THING DOES NOT RUN LINUX! There was an article put out a while ago that reported it running linux and people have been trying to rectify it ever since. It is running an arm microcontroller, it is closer to an arduino than a raspberry pi.

@dang

But still open source, which brings a lot of novelty value for hackers.

Well, yes, I am actually sorta a dev for the thing. But I just don't want anyone buying the thing expecting that it runs linux.

A comment to all companies:

With current shortages, PLEASE include "pre-order" rather than just "out-of-stock." There are a lot of items where I don't mind waiting, but I WILL forget. Here, the sealed watch is available, but the dev kit comes in September.

Why do I need to set a calendar reminder for September and then (perhaps) place an order? Can't I just pay now, and you'll deliver when it's ready (or refund if it's never ready)?

That's double true for things like graphics cards and other extreme shortages.

Aside from making it easier on me, YOU can plan demand. YOU can place appropriate manufacturing orders. If you have 1000 preorders, you can order 1200 devices. Otherwise, you'll be ordering 200, and find yourself out-of-stock again (or with a glut).


Preorders generate risk for a business, because you take money and owe a customer goods, potentially for months. You cannot spend that money because you need to be able to refund it, but you're also carrying the risk of storing and protecting that money because it's technically yours.

If the date, costs and shipping of the next batch aren't even known yet, it makes no sense to open up for preorders. Also, the company risks taking on more preorders than stock they can get their hands on, which will only help to disappoint customers who will have to wait more weeks for the next batch to arrive. There's a lot that can go wrong for the company.

If it took more than a few days to sell out for each batch, it might make sense because it'd allow for the store to be sure that their entire volume is moved. From what I've seen, these watches go out of stock in hours. There's no need for the store to carry risks to make ordering extra convenient for its customers because they will sell out regardless.

There's benefits for batching orders before you back order from the factory, but there's also downsides. From a business standpoint, I don't see the advantage of taking on back orders for a product that sells out instantly anyway.

If you're anxious to by the Pinetime, the hardware is practically the same as the Colmi P8 if I recall correctly, and the open source OS can be flashed on that with some extra steps you can find online. You can find that watch, and many similar ones, on your favourite Chinese import website. You lose the official support, but you'd get your hands on a hackable watch without setting a calender reminder.


I think a lot of that can be managed with messaging and expectation-setting.

My experience hasn't been that volume is manufacturing-limited. A frobitz costs $50 to make, ship, support, etc:

- I know I'll sell 200

- I think I might sell 800

- Best-case, I'll sell 1600

Without preorders, if I order 200 and sell for $60, I'll come out $2000 ahead guaranteed. If I order 800, I might come out $8000 ahead, or I might come out $28k behind. If I order 1600, I'll be almost guaranteed to come out behind.

Ergo, it makes more sense for me to order as many as I *know* I'll sell, and to have shortages than it does to order extra. Unsold units cost a lot, and can drive me bankrupt. Shortages are a bit of lost profit. That's especially true for low-volume, as is the case here.


> Preorders generate risk for a business, because you take money and owe a customer goods, potentially for months. You cannot spend that money because you need to be able to refund it, but you're also carrying the risk of storing and protecting that money because it's technically yours.

Along with this some payment processors explicitly forbid pre-orders because of this. It can resulr in a lot of chargebacks aanf other issues when a product doesn't ship when originally estimated


> Preorders generate risk for a business, because you take money and owe a customer goods

This is true if you capture funds up front, but preorders don't necessarily _need_ to work like that.

There are payment types/options (at least in the UK) where you can pre-auth the payment but not actually capture the funds until later - so you technically don't have the customers' money.

You can also take refundable deposits (slightly more risky, but risk is mitigated by clear terms and conditions that you're not guaranteeing availability or a fixed delivery date). Even a low-value deposit can also be a very useful signal for "actual demand" which can be helpful for capacity planning.

Source: have run pre-ordering system for large volume sales online in the UK + as a customer I've recently paid a $10 deposit a few months ahead of a US product launching in Europe (only paying the full balance when they emailed me to say they were ready to ship).


You're right that with some workarounds you can reduce the negative impact of preorders on your business and turn it into a net benefit, I was just talking about valid business reasons not to invest time and effort into them.

Preorders can be a very nice gesture for customers, but they're no business necessity by any means. Implementing a new payment option (or, more likely, processor), setting up some kind of refund assurance system, dealing with customer support for cancellations, it all takes effort and time away from other parts of your business. I don't think the effort will be worth it until a shop can ship large enough volumes to need better capacity planning. From what I can tell, Pine seems to ship however many complete kits they can get their hands on. With the delays and issues in China/US shipping corridors, the availability of stock will probably be a bigger and more important issue to work on than the stock planning.


I don't know, if you're fundamentally in the business of selling things, making it easy for customers to at least show you a clear intent to buy, and even better, backing that commitment with actual money, seems like a bit of a no brainer in many (most?) cases.

I appreciate supply may be the constraint rather than sales, but even more reason to lock in the sale now as best you can, as opposed to letting the customer go elsewhere in the meantime.

By the time your supply chain issues ease, sales then may become the constraint again (because people have moved on, the season has changed... whatever).

I don't discount your points about the time and effort required, but it doesn't seem clear cut to me that it's not worth doing.


Next to 'out of stock' should be a 'email me when there is stock again'.

>The internal memory consists of 64KB of RAM, 512KB of Flash system storage, and 4MB of additional flash storage. The watch is powered by a 64MHz ARM Cortex-M4F as part of the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 SoC.

How is this thing able to run Linux?


It doesn't [0]. Someone took "Open Source Operating System" as being a long form of "Linux", it seems...

[0]: https://wiki.pine64.org/wiki/PineTime_Development


Why wouldn't it be able to? Strip back linux and it can run on almost anything. Its been running on PC's since those specs were normal for a desktop lol. The original Pentiums went as low as 60MHz and they could still run just fine.

EDIT: Looks like its not, but I still dont see why it couldn't. May not be very useful though.


Typically a lack of MMU is the blocker for microcontrollers. Although constraints on RAM and storage can also make it inpractical.

It isn't. It runs InfiniTime.

This looks great. I was a fan of the Pebble (for its low power and "hack-ability") so will likely end up with one of these at some point.

I agree that the article title really needs to remove "Linux" though. Hopefully it can be unflagged once the title is corrected.


Jeez, I just checked to order one and the shipping to Canada is more expensive ($30.00) than the device itself ($26.99).

And I'll probably get hit by customs, that's not good.


I think I can spend $50-$75 for a Smartwatch, that means Pine64 has a $20-45 wiggle room to make it not look cheap, give it more features (e.g. wifi, gps ...), more memory (e.g. to run an offline map) ...

I can spend $30 casually, and I wouldn't spend $50-$70 casually, which means Pine64 is exactly at my price point.

Can I ssh to it? Seems like no WiFi stack but if it has Bluetooth there might be a Linux sysadmin wizard out there who can tell me how to patch and Jimmy my way into an ssh session?

It does not have userland, so it does not have SSH.

Title should be : Pine64's $30 open-source Smartwatch Launches

That's less than I expected. I'm going to give it a try.



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