I do wish there were a few more “three months later” type reviews doing the rounds. All the first impressions are great, but what’s it like in use?
You’ll have to wait three months; it only just shipped! Mine has not even arrived yet.
I do kind of wish these had a trackpoint nub like the older Thinkpads.
The trackpoint is the one feature that keeps me glued to Thinkpads for the time being because I am completely inept at using touchpads, and dislike using the mouse as well. I’m moderately content with the one I’m using as my main driver, but I know that I won’t be buying another after this. So yes, I would love to see an open hw laptop with a trackpoint. I could perhaps settle for a trackball. Never tried one. I’m aware the MNT Reform has one, but that is a whole different price level.
Is there any kind of patent on the TrackPoint, or just not many manufacturers making them in components that’d be easy to integrate in a cheap laptop?
The original TrackPoint was patented by IBM (so probably Lenovo holds those patents now). A number of other manufacturers have included trackpoint-like devices in their laptops, though they are often considered to be inferior. I used to have a Dell with a trackpoint, and that was definitely not as good. That said, the quality of the trackpoint on my Thinkpad E570 is also worse than on my beloved T60, but it’s mostly a question of the caps wearing out more quickly. So, to sum up: I think the patents could be worked around, but getting the design right would be a major challenge in itself.
I see a few people asking for 3 month later reviews. I’ve had mine now for what I would guess is 6 months. I don’t remember when it was shipped.
The machine works out of the box, and it’s fine for the most part. I replaced the OS with Manjaro because it felt snappier (and still does). Again. for the most part, things just work. All of the typical laptop things work - sleep, keyboard, display, wireless, etc. The keyboard is probably my favorite part. I find it very satisfying to type on, which is unusual on a smaller form factor like this, and even more impressive given the price point. I wish this keyboard were on my work Macbook pro (I’m still on the butterfly keys from the early 2019 generation).
The only complaints I have about the Pinebook Pro are related to arm support. That is to say, there’s really nothing I can find to complain about. I compiled code in Java, ran some JS with Node, ran some Python. I don’t have very demanding needs when it comes to those things.
Let me go back on what I just said, though. There is one place that the Pinebook Pro is pretty terrible: watching videos. I put some “How To” videos on when I was setting some things up on another computer and A) the speakers are tinny, quiet, and pretty awful and B) there is significant tearing on the video itself. If you’re thinking of getting one of these for watching video, don’t. That said, I turned mine into a local Plex server (i.e. not transcoding files) and it works like a charm. We’ve only tried 3 simultaneous streams, but they all worked without issue.
And that’s where mine stands right now. It’s a plex media server for my house. I had built a media server that had the ability to transcode multiple files at once, but since I never stream outside of my house, I repurposed it for other things and slid the pinebook pro into its spot instead. It works great for that, but if you’re looking for a cheap local Plex server, I’d just grab a raspberry pi for a fraction of the price.
Hm; in a way, I personally could see this as an advantage: that I would have harder time to get pulled into slacking on youtube :P
Did you try to play video with a dedicated player - mpv, mplayer, vlc et al - instead of a browser? On my relatively ancient and similarly anaemic Thinkpad T42p playing video in a browser - no matter whether that be Gecko or Blink-based - is suboptimal, the thing doesn’t go much further than 480p without stuttering. Playing the same video in one of the mentioned programs is no problem at 720p or - depending on the video - 1080p. Of course something similar goes for the Raspberry Pi where the dedicated player offloads decoding to the GPU while browsers fail to do so. I don’t know whether there is such a player for this machine but if it does exist it will make a world of difference. If it doesn’t exist it should be made…
It seems better when playing media in VLC. I did notice some screen tearing still, but it’s not very frequent and not really a showstopper.
I just got mine too and yeah, the trackpad is shit.
I’ll report back in six months. I haven’t cried myself to sleep once trying to install guix on it so I can’t give a proper review.
Sound works out of the box though, so that’s something.
The trackpad Does sound awful. I wonder whether the fixed click locations are a hardware limitation, or a misfeature of the firmware/driver? If the latter, hopefully there are fixes available. I could be tempted to buy one of these as a cheap-and-cheerful Linux box.
(I’m a Mac guy since forever, but I’ve used a couple of PC laptops, and on the cheap ones the trackpad has been a total deal-breaker. Seems like a stupid place to skimp on the mfg budget … like selling a compact car with springs poking out of the seat.)
At least on the general software end, consider supporting libinput work: https://bill.harding.blog/2020/05/17/linux-touchpad-preliminary-project-funding-survey-results/
(bias: I’m promoting this whenever trackpad linux criticism comes up.)
These got mentioned
Does anyone know the timeframe for delivery? I purchased one a few days ago, got a receipt, but haven’t heard much else. Just curious what I should expect.
it takes a little while as they build and ship from China but I’m unaware of the exact length.
Don’t know specifically about the PineBook, but my PinePhone took a while - a couple of months from pre-order through manufacturing and shipping. Worth the wait though :)
They don’t ship constantly, but they are currently shipping, so hopefully you (and I) get shipping notifications this next week. Lookup Pine64 on Twitter for more updates.