My Experience Using the Pinebook Pro as a Daily Driver
#1
I didn't buy this laptop because I expected it to replace my chromebook or main laptop. I bought it to experiment with new technology, but I wanted to test to see if I could use it in that way, and here are my findings. I used it exclusively for 2-3 days.

Things I loved.
  • For its price, the keyboard is very nice. Alot of travel. Plasticy feel isn't great but blows away other laptops in price range in my opinion. Keyboard is fairly clicky which I like but some may not.
  • Love all the hardware switches to turn things off.
  • Build Quality feels very good for price point. My other laptops are X1 Carbon & Apple M1 Macbook, so this is lower end at 10% the price, but it s5-6 itill feels good to use.
  • Love the lack of branding on the top of the laptop.
  • Some people complain about the trackpad but its perfectly usable. I like the precise click vs soft touch click of some laptops.
  • I did not find the CPU/RAM limiting with my behavior of hanging out on discord, watching youtube videos, or checking gmail. I also SSHd into a server and did some development on it and was fine. These days, I do all my builds server side so my laptop is basically just an IDE/SSH session.
  • Quiet & Cool Operation
Things I don't like:
  • Battery life is realistically 3-4 hours. Feel like time travel back to the 90s. 5-6 hours really is table stakes. You need better battery life if you want to prove this chip is viable. Current battery life is not viable for a commercial product.
  • Charging of Battery - by far the worst part of PBP.  I feel like I get one use session out of it per day and then I put it on the charger overnight. I haven't even timed the charging because it takes so long. With the laptop on, it stays at 0% forever. If I turn it off, it does charge, but very slowly. The entire time I wrote this it was hooked up and never left 0%m charge.
  • The charging cable is very short, which is not fun as I basically am using the laptop as a desktop given the low battery life and slow recharge.

Am I happy with my purchase as a tech enthusiast testing out a new product? Yes.

Would I buy this as a commercial product or recommend it to someone? No, the battery situation is not just bad its show stopping. You can't take half a day to recharge a battery that discharges before two movies are played in 2021. Its just not viable. I would pay $300 for a PBP with better charing/battery, but I wouldn't pay $200 for it in its current state if it were my main device.
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#2
Funny, I have plenty of criticisms for PBP, but battery life is not one of them - despite me abusing mine daily for almost year and a half now (IIRC typical Li-Ion battery loses about 20% capacity in that time), several times (unintentionally) discharging it to 0% and occasionally overcharging it, it can still easily last me most of the day on a single charge. I don't believe you mentioned your configuration, and AFAIK that can make some drastic impact on many things, including battery life. E.g., if you have NVMe adapter and drive you'll get worse battery life, if you use kernel/devicetree that overclocks the SoC you'll get worse battery life, and so on and so forth.
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#3
Please also state the Linux distro you are using.
Did you get your PBP recently?
Early models needed updates for the keyboard and trackpad.

I'm on Manjaro and I'm still waiting for an easy way to get hardware video decoding in a browser (did you try Youtube in 1080p?).
Next would be full support for the OpenGL and OpenCL capabilities of the Rockchip RK3399.
We still haven't seen the full potential of the RK3399 with the Pinebook Pro.
When you see what the first generation Samsung Chromebook Plus can do, you wouldn't believe it also uses the RK3399.
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#4
(06-13-2021, 10:39 AM)warpnow Wrote: Things I don't like:


[*]The charging cable is very short, which is not fun as I basically am using the laptop as a desktop given the low battery life and slow recharge.
[*]
Of note, you can buy a 6FT 5V DC Power Cord USB to DC 3.5mm x 1.35mm Barrel Jack Adapter  and plug it into a USB charging brick for a longer cord.
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#5
Moaning...
why mantscharo? why not excotic-smell-no-3567-6??
There are debian, ubuntu, redhat, fedora, CentOS as well known and commonly used linux derivates.
And: "enjoy the simplicity" Oh yes, with KDE the most consuming display ever....
with 10.768 best hidden things to configure where only 50 are required.

Hows about a good keyboard, language, screen, sound, network configuration interface as that is all we need
in the first attempt. Missiing in gnome, KDE, mate, Cinnamion, LXDE, LXqt, so almost everywhere.

I'd like debian but I think ubuntu would have been the weay to go.

tried Daniel Thompson's Debian Installer but:

No wlan out of the box
No sound out of the box
No screen resolution, only 1920x1080(Maybe someone can construct a full screen looking glass to identify the letters?)
No way to xrandr 1366x768 (black screen) so the driver is scrap

Conclusio: NO, not really something that I can use to replace my best hated Windows 10 notebook.

Working three days to get a small lean LXDE humping around. With a looking glass beside it.
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#6
(06-21-2021, 02:09 AM)moserwi Wrote: Moaning...
why mantscharo? why not excotic-smell-no-3567-6??
There are debian, ubuntu, redhat, fedora, CentOS as well known and commonly used linux derivates.
And: "enjoy the simplicity" Oh yes, with KDE the most consuming display ever....
with 10.768 best hidden things to configure where only 50 are required.

Hows about a good keyboard, language, screen, sound, network configuration interface as that is all we need
in the first attempt. Missiing in gnome, KDE, mate, Cinnamion, LXDE, LXqt, so almost everywhere.

I'd like debian but I think ubuntu would have been the weay to go.

tried Daniel Thompson's Debian Installer but:

No wlan out of the box
No sound out of the box
No screen resolution, only 1920x1080(Maybe someone can construct a full screen looking glass to identify the letters?)
No way to xrandr 1366x768 (black screen)  so the driver is scrap

Conclusio: NO, not really something that I can use to replace my best hated Windows 10 notebook.

Working three days to get a  small lean LXDE humping around. With a looking glass beside it.
If you like the Debian-based distros instead of Arch-based, Armbian is what you're looking for.  They have XFCE by default, and everything works well.  There were minor graphical tearing issues, but I'm sure they've been fixed by now (I prefer Manjaro i3, so I replaced my Armbian install).

As for the resolution, as I understand it the laptop panels get super cranky when you try to change it.  Instead, you should be able to just change the font.  I don't have an XFCE install handy, but this appears to help: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=1735.
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#7
(06-21-2021, 07:33 PM)carlosqueso Wrote: If you like the Debian-based distros instead of Arch-based, Armbian is what you're looking for.  They have XFCE by default, and everything works well.  There were minor graphical tearing issues, but I'm sure they've been fixed by now (I prefer Manjaro i3, so I replaced my Armbian install).

As for the resolution, as I understand it the laptop panels get super cranky when you try to change it.  Instead, you should be able to just change the font.  I don't have an XFCE install handy, but this appears to help: https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=1735.

Tried to use xfce4: the screen resolution can be set by 0.1 v and h but rendering is not existent.
A point of view that should have been mentioned by the coders of this xfce4 interface.
So they should implement proper rendering insted of implementing a gimmik.

btw. reducing from 1920x1080 to 1366x768 INCREASES the available dpi for the screen to show.
As long as someone renders the view properly. If someone just cuts the view in half the pixels were doubled up and therefore blurred.
I think this was xrandr before they started war on my mental wellness.
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#8
(06-22-2021, 02:53 AM)moserwi Wrote: btw. reducing from 1920x1080 to 1366x768 INCREASES the available dpi for the screen to show.

Sorry mate, but I'm afraid you have to go back to the math class - DPI stands for "dots per inch", and the lower the resolution the lower the number of dots per inch is available, so dropping the resolution from 1920x1080 to 1366x768 in no way "increases the available dpi". But it would increase the apparent size of everything on the screen, that's correct. On an LCD screen - at the cost of image sharpness, I'm afraid. Unless you're using one of those extremely high-DPI screens like on modern high-end smartphones, where the pixels are so small it no longer matters how out of alignment the resolution used is with the physical grid.

Unlike on Windows or macOS, on Linux there are multiple ways to make things appear bigger or smaller on the screen. One of them is adjusting the screen resolution, which doesn't work on PBP (and BTW that doesn't work on Macbooks either), another is adjusting font sizes (no longer works in Windows, not sure if ever worked in macOS), and another is adjusting DPI scaling. As you've already been told, if you want to adjust the sizing of everything at the same time your best bet is to adjust DPI scaling. Some of the more "advanced" desktop environments like KDE and GNOME should have a setting to configure scaling using GUI, but if you're still using X11 then you can also adjust scaling by e.g. launching X.org with appropriate -dpi parameter. Where you set that -dpi parameter depends on how you launch your X.org - if you do it through display manager like SDDM it will be in that display manager's config files. I like setting mine to the actual physical resolution of the screen, which in case of PBP is 157 (roughly corresponds to scaling factor of 157/96=~1.6). That makes all fonts appear approximately the same size as if they were actually printed, so a 9-point element will take those ~9/72 of an inch on the screen just like it would on paper. The size appearance of your desired resolution of 1366x768 can be achieved by setting scaling factor to 1920/1366=~1.4 or 1.4*96=~135 DPI.

I get it, you just want to keep doing things the old way and expect to continue the old ways to work. But if that's the case then perhaps you should stay with the old hardware and software. No offense intended - I myself am a collector of old computers and somewhat of a computer history aficionado. But if there is anything I learned about computers, technology in general, or life overall through my hobby is that there is only one constant - change. That said, those changes do not happen overnight. systemd has been around for 11 years, by now it is a plenty established technology, and while it has plenty valid criticisms targeting it, making things easier from the viewpoint of a user managing services is a goal it does achieve, if you're willing to learn just a tiny bit (pretty much just run `systemctl --help`). ARM has been around for ages, but it is only now that it makes a headway into the desktop/laptop usage. There are architectural differences with x86 that go beyond just instruction set. If you don't like them - nobody is forcing you to buy an ARM laptop. You can always sell your PBP if you don't like it - thanks to the parts shortages, I'm sure you'll be able to sell yours in no time. Buying PBP and expecting things to work exactly the same way they work on an x86 laptop is like replacing Windows with Linux and expecting exactly the same experience - it's foolhardy.
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#9
I think for the X11 there is a solution:

echo "Xft.dpi: 150" >> ~/.Xresources

Hmm... looks pretty old fashioned.
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#10
(06-22-2021, 10:53 AM)moserwi Wrote: I think for the X11 there is a solution:

echo "Xft.dpi: 150" >> ~/.Xresources

Hmm... looks pretty old fashioned.

Yup, $HOME/.Xresources works too, and unlike -dpi parameter to X it's a per-user setting.
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