PSA: Warning about Pinetab Quality
#1
@tllim @Luke 

I am posting this thread to current owners of the Early Adopter Pinetab and potential future purchases about my experience with the quality of my Early Adopter Pinetab.

Background: I purchased my Pinetab with keyboard case directly from Pine64 in June, 2020 and it was delivered in September, 2020. Up until today, it worked well with no issues at all and was used around the house. There wasn't a lot of wear and tear (none really) and charging was performed appropriately with an appropriate charger.

Current Issue: After using the Pinetab last night, I powered it off and put it up on a dresser, as I normally do. When I woke up this morning, I went to power it up and noticed  the display was cracked. My first thought was 'it didn't fall on the floor and nothing dropped on it, so how did it crack?'. Once I picked it up, I knew something was wrong with the tablet-the plastic casing had popped apart on several edges. I could also feel an extra thickness to the tablet-slight but noticeable.

Cause: I have never opened up the Pinetab, nor am I going to now, but my best guess would be a battery expansion of some sort that was severe enough to crack the display.

Why the PSA: Pinetab owners and potential purchases should know of this issue. Current Pinetab owners that have a similar issue are encouraged to report the issue to Pine64.

Hopeful Resolution: As of now, I have a useless piece of electronics. The innards may have some value, as might the keyboard, but to repair the Pinetab would probably be more than the original cost. Even though the cost of the tablet is relatively low, I think it is entirely reasonable to expect that the Pinetab would remain in a working condition for more than 2 months. So my hopeful resolution:
1. Pine64 asks to have the unit shipped back to Pine64 (at Pine64's cost) to determine the cause of the issue of casing swelling and display cracking. This would help Pine64 determine if there are supply chain issues in terms of quality.
2. Pine64 refunds my purchase price. Even though I know there is a 30 day guarantee, I think that a reasonable customer should expect a Pine64 product to work more than 2 months.
3. If there is a known issue or one is found upon inspection of my unit that Pine64 notify purchasers of the issue and the corrective actions that will be taken to correct it.

It may be that my unit is a one-off situation in quality, but that would be for Pine64 to determine based on the examination of my unit and also using their collective knowledge about other defective units.
#2
> Current Issue: After using the Pinetab last night, I powered it off and put it up on a dresser, as I normally do.

@ImaPagan Did you leave it on charge? If so, using USB or DC barrel jack?

I also own a PineTab and have had no issues so far. I'm using mine for a few hours at a time and generally keep the battery between 50-90% (although a few times 0%). I'm using mine twice a week or so at least.

I have some experience with LiPo batteries and they tend to bloat in such a way if they are over-charged, over-discharged, charged at too high a current, discharged at too high a current, receive impact force or run at high temperatures. I would suggest to look for one of these conditions.
#3
(11-27-2020, 09:41 AM)barray Wrote: > Current Issue: After using the Pinetab last night, I powered it off and put it up on a dresser, as I normally do.

@ImaPagan Did you leave it on charge? If so, using USB or DC barrel jack?

I also own a PineTab and have had no issues so far. I'm using mine for a few hours at a time and generally keep the battery between 50-90% (although a few times 0%). I'm using mine twice a week or so at least.

I have some experience with LiPo batteries and they tend to bloat in such a way if they are over-charged, over-discharged, charged at too high a current, discharged at too high a current, receive impact force or run at high temperatures. I would suggest to look for one of these conditions.
Thank you for your post. No, the unit was not left on the USB charging cable. I know that there was no impact force to the unit for certain unless something happened to the unit in the factory or shipping, nor has it been over charged and never has been over-discharged. The charger is a standard 2 amp phone charger that is used with other devices without issues. If using the Pinetab for normal use, such as an e-reader causes it to run at high temperatures, than that would be an issue for Pine64 to figure out. My Pinetab has had very light use.

Also, I went ahead and submitted a ticket just to let Pine64 know of the issue. I was a bit surprised that they responded, since there have been complaints about lack of responses posted to the forum. They asked me to open up the Pinetab and take some photos, which I did. There is just a slight swelling noted on the edge of the battery nearest to the CPU. To my untrained eye it doesn't seem like much, but it may have been enough to crack the display. As in my original post, I offered to send the unit back to Pine64 for them to investigate further. I will post a follow up when there is news.
#4
(11-27-2020, 02:25 PM)ImaPagan Wrote: Thank you for your post. No, the unit was not left on the USB charging cable. I know that there was no impact force to the unit for certain unless something happened to the unit in the factory or shipping, nor has it been over charged and never has been over-discharged. The charger is a standard 2 amp phone charger that is used with other devices without issues. If using the Pinetab for normal use, such as an e-reader causes it to run at high temperatures, than that would be an issue for Pine64 to figure out. My Pinetab has had very light use.

Also, I went ahead and submitted a ticket just to let Pine64 know of the issue. I was a bit surprised that they responded, since there have been complaints about lack of responses posted to the forum. They asked me to open up the Pinetab and take some photos, which I did. There is just a slight swelling noted on the edge of the battery nearest to the CPU. To my untrained eye it doesn't seem like much, but it may have been enough to crack the display. As in my original post, I offered to send the unit back to Pine64 for them to investigate further. I will post a follow up when there is news.

One difference is that I've mostly used the DC barrel jack and not the USB port.

Bare in mind that some cheap USB chargers can be wildly out of spec and it would depend on the device itself to handle that. I know the cheap LMS voltage regulators for example can behave real weird when overloaded, I overloaded a 500mA 5V chip with about 1.5A and it killed my device with 20V. I would test the phone charger under different loads if you're able to.

The swelling next to the CPU may indicate the CPU caused the problem. I guess one in ten thousand or so processors pass inspection but ultimately die after a little use, you may have been super unlucky.

When you were using the device as an e-reader, did you have it laying on your bed or something? When I'm using my PineTab it's always with the keyboard dock, so air is always getting to it. My friend once almost burned down our house by leaving his laptop on his bed... So I would take that quite seriously. In that case you *would* expect a thermal shutdown... But if it exists, who knows whether it's actually enabled or not.
#5
I use a dump power supply with 5V 10W, made for something else. I use the barrel connector, but usb also works. The charging current/voltage is handled by the internal power chip, not the charger. So if the "charger" can deliver 5V and minimum 2A, all is good.

But I would not trust a charger with USB-PD standard (what can deliver up to 20V) on the PineTab, although it should work.

There is a threat on swollen battery on the PinePhone, so I would guess it's battery related (or heat issue (design)).
Hope you find a good solution with Pine64
#6
(11-27-2020, 10:58 PM)barray Wrote:
(11-27-2020, 02:25 PM)ImaPagan Wrote: Thank you for your post. No, the unit was not left on the USB charging cable. I know that there was no impact force to the unit for certain unless something happened to the unit in the factory or shipping, nor has it been over charged and never has been over-discharged. The charger is a standard 2 amp phone charger that is used with other devices without issues. If using the Pinetab for normal use, such as an e-reader causes it to run at high temperatures, than that would be an issue for Pine64 to figure out. My Pinetab has had very light use.

Also, I went ahead and submitted a ticket just to let Pine64 know of the issue. I was a bit surprised that they responded, since there have been complaints about lack of responses posted to the forum. They asked me to open up the Pinetab and take some photos, which I did. There is just a slight swelling noted on the edge of the battery nearest to the CPU. To my untrained eye it doesn't seem like much, but it may have been enough to crack the display. As in my original post, I offered to send the unit back to Pine64 for them to investigate further. I will post a follow up when there is news.

One difference is that I've mostly used the DC barrel jack and not the USB port.

Bare in mind that some cheap USB chargers can be wildly out of spec and it would depend on the device itself to handle that. I know the cheap LMS voltage regulators for example can behave real weird when overloaded, I overloaded a 500mA 5V chip with about 1.5A and it killed my device with 20V. I would test the phone charger under different loads if you're able to.

The swelling next to the CPU may indicate the CPU caused the problem. I guess one in ten thousand or so processors pass inspection but ultimately die after a little use, you may have been super unlucky.

When you were using the device as an e-reader, did you have it laying on your bed or something? When I'm using my PineTab it's always with the keyboard dock, so air is always getting to it. My friend once almost burned down our house by leaving his laptop on his bed... So I would take that quite seriously. In that case you *would* expect a thermal shutdown... But if it exists, who knows whether it's actually enabled or not.
Thank you for the post. I don't have a way to test the USB charger, but as stated I have used it with other devices without issue. When used, the Pinetab was in my hands not lying on the bed, so I I don't think air circulation was an issue. But as I said before this might be a one-off. However, I think EA Pinetab owners need to know what happened. As for Pine64, they have a full set of photos in the ticket system, but haven't replied as of yet as to what their thoughts are on the topic.

(11-28-2020, 06:51 AM)guenther Wrote: I use a dump power supply with 5V 10W, made for something else. I use the barrel connector, but usb also works. The charging current/voltage is handled by the internal power chip, not the charger. So if the "charger" can deliver 5V and minimum 2A, all is good.

But I would not trust a charger with USB-PD standard (what can deliver up to 20V) on the PineTab, although it should work.

There is a threat on swollen battery on the PinePhone, so I would guess it's battery related (or heat issue (design)).
Hope you find a good solution with Pine64
Thank you for the post. Yes, I had seen some of the posts about the PinePhone batteries in the forum. I realise that since this was an early batch, things can happen. I wanted to have a tablet that would last a while and could have updated software. Oh well, back to Android for now.
#7
I have a short update. After submitting a ticket to Pine64 Support, the ticket went unanswered for about 2 weeks. I finally emailed T Lim tllim@pine64.org and let him know that the ticket was pending. His response: 'Ho Robert,
This support team has been reviewed and will note support team to response.
There is no enough evidence that the LCD screen crack by itself and battery still in normal shape.
Cheers,
TL Lim'
And my response back was:
'Thank you for the response. I am surprised that Pine64 arrived at their conclusion without physically examining the Pinetab. However, I understand that the unit is not in warranty and Pine64 can choose to handle the issue as they see fit. The unit will be sent for electronics recycling.

This situation definitely provided me with information about how Pine64 doesn't really stand behind their own products. It is quite sad, as the Pinetab is unique. But the lesson learned for me is to avoid any further Pine64 purchases.'

It is sad as I had high hopes for the Pinetab and other Pine64 products. At this point, however, I can't recommend their products, particularly since they have a very short warranty.
#8
(12-14-2020, 04:15 PM)ImaPagan Wrote: I have a short update. After submitting a ticket to Pine64 Support, the ticket went unanswered for about 2 weeks. I finally emailed T Lim tllim@pine64.org and let him know that the ticket was pending. His response: 'Ho Robert,
This support team has been reviewed and will note support team to response.
There is no enough evidence that the LCD screen crack by itself and battery still in normal shape.
Cheers,
TL Lim'
And my response back was:
'Thank you for the response. I am surprised that Pine64 arrived at their conclusion without physically examining the Pinetab. However, I understand that the unit is not in warranty and Pine64 can choose to handle the issue as they see fit. The unit will be sent for electronics recycling.

This situation definitely provided me with information about how Pine64 doesn't really stand behind their own products. It is quite sad, as the Pinetab is unique. But the lesson learned for me is to avoid any further Pine64 purchases.'

It is sad as I had high hopes for the Pinetab and other Pine64 products. At this point, however, I can't recommend their products, particularly since they have a very short warranty.
Rather than recycling, you could just wait until LCD panels are available, or offer it up to the community. Others can still use it to develop.
#9
@ImaPagan Thank you for keeping us up to date on your experience so far.

> There is no enough evidence that the LCD screen crack by itself and battery still in normal shape.

Would you mind sharing the photos that you sent them on here? I would be really interested to see the extent at which the battery has expanded and how much LCD damage there is.

> I am surprised that Pine64 arrived at their conclusion without physically examining the Pinetab.

Yeah this seems surprising that they are drawing conclusions from images alone. This is something I would really want to inspect in person before potentially sending of a few more hundred to be made at a factory.

> This situation definitely provided me with information about how Pine64 doesn't really stand behind their own products.

Bare in mind it's an early-adopter device... I expect hardware issues that may involve replacement boards or a little bit of soldering, but I wouldn't expect the device to self destruct as you've described, that's insane. It's really irresponsible to manufacture more PineTabs without first figuring out exactly what went wrong here.

As @rocket2nfinity said, you should still be able to recover some money by selling it to another community member for developing. Some of the developers for the OSes for example still use the original tablets with 1GB RAM I believe.


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