Pinebook Pro Initial Impressions
#1
Well, it's finally here. And, it was well worth the wait.

I received notification via SMS on yesterday morning that DHL had a package for me that was going to require a signature. Every few hours I would receive an update on its current status as it made its way through customs and to my local DHL office. It was delivered today just before noon, no signature required... and no customs fees. ( I'm in the US )

The laptop was packaged inside a foam sleeve, inside a cardboard box, inside another cardboard box, inside a padded envelope, inside a DHL plastic bag. None of it was branded Pine64 in any way. The only thing included besides the laptop itself is a small wall-wart style AC adapter with a barrel plug for power. I have not yet tried charging via USB-C.

The laptop feels sturdy, has clean lines, and the keyboard feels great; aside from it being ISO.

The screen is crisp and easy to read, with no dead pixels or faults of any kind.

My initial opinion of the software was a little concerning, as I couldn't get audio to work and the key mappings seemed to be wrong. Both of these issues were corrected once I used the rock/rock credentials instead of root/root. The root/root user has a base MATE configuration, while the rock/rock user has been customized somewhat in ways that I personally find preferable. For example, the panel has been moved to the bottom and it includes a launcher which works with the Pine64 branded super key.

I've been using the laptop off and on for the last 6 hours on WiFi, and I'm currently sitting at 56% battery. It came to me at 100%.

Video playback is smooth, and the audio isn't bad for such a small/inexpensive device. One thing that really stands out to me is the keyboard. The keys feel just firm enough with no sponginess. It really is a pleasure to type on. Though, I might have to give in and buy the ANSI keyboard once it becomes available.

I didn't purchase the SSD adapter, as I assumed that I would be getting the ANSI keyboard at a later date anyhow. Even with the EMMC, the boot times are better than other laptops I have which contain SSDs. The stock image is consuming just under 5GB.

I'm happy to answer any questions, and will continue to provide updates as time goes by. So far, it's worth every penny of that $199.

K

UPDATE: I've had the PBP for a couple evenings now. It's at the tail-end of its second battery cycle. Overall the experience has been pleasurable. Simple web browsing and code editing work just fine for me. Firefox does seem to crash every once in a while. I've been getting more used to the keyboard. It's only an issue when I need to use the left-shift or the @ symbol.

I have been struggling to get another build to boot using the MicroSD slot. The chromium build resulted in nothing but a black screen, and the ubuntu MATE build doesn't seem to be recognized, as the laptop just boots up normally. Luke asked me to connect via UART, but I didn't realize until removing the back cover that the UART connection is done via the 3.5mm headphone jack. I do not have a cable for that yet, so I'll have to make one.

One thing I would like to share in hopes of saving someone else headache and potential damage. The tolerances on the back panel are very tight. So tight, in fact, that it was really difficult getting it back on. There are 4 spacers which need to be lined up with the screw holes. Two in the corners near the screen hinge, and two on the left and right edges halfway between the back and front of the laptop. Make sure those four spacers are lined up before trying to position the back panel. Secondly for me, the back panel would not sit flush on the left and right edges. After much trial and error, the answer to this was to get one side to sit flush. Put in the middle screw for that side. Then, apply gentle pressure to the other side while using a non-marring spudge tool to lift up on the middle of the panel next to this screen hinge. This gave the panel just enough clearance to sit down flush inside the bezel and allow the screws to be put in place.

K

UPDATE:

I have noticed that when sitting idle, the screen will quickly flicker off and then back on. I haven't yet found the time to dig deeper.

K


Attached Files
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#2
Thanks for the feedback. Stickied as I am very keen to hear from more of you.
You can find me on IRC, Discord and Twitter


  Reply
#3
(10-01-2019, 04:03 PM)kunger Wrote: One thing that really stands out to me is the keyboard. The keys feel just firm enough with no sponginess. It really is a pleasure to type on.

That's music to my ears. Thank you.
  Reply
#4
(10-01-2019, 04:03 PM)kunger Wrote: My initial opinion of the software was a little concerning, as I couldn't get audio to work and the key mappings seemed to be wrong. Both of these issues were corrected once I used the rock/rock credentials instead of root/root.

I forgot about the rock/rock user, so I wound up making a new user. Sound didn't work until I happened to open the PulseAudio control application, and then it started working. I was a little thrown by the UK keyboard configured as a US keyboard. I think I should get better at touch typing anyway!

Overall, I find it a nice device. and will be my laptop to take to work on my Metro ride. Well done!
  Reply
#5
Quote:I was a little thrown by the UK keyboard configured as a US keyboard

This shouldn't be the case under default user: rock
You can find me on IRC, Discord and Twitter


  Reply
#6
First day with the PineBookPro. This screen is pretty bright! The more I type the more I enjoy the keyboard. They ISO layout is still taking some time to get use to. I never used an ARM device that wasn't a phone before so this will also be a learning experience for me as well. Chassis feel firm with minimal keyboard flex. Camera is oddly enough not flush with the top of the laptop. Not sure how this will affect placing a camera cover just yet. All in all this is a better experience that all other laptops I have used at this price point. I can't wait to learn more and put it to use on this little guy.
  Reply
#7
Hi is anyone noticing a slight delay with keyboard presses or keys that seem to be "sticking" software wise? For example I'm noticing that there's some lag between keyboard inputs and when the inputs show up on the screen. This will occur occasionally as if the OS is catching up with the typing so the screen appears to freeze (ie no inputs registered) and sometimes a sequence of characters will show up (ie. For example rrrrrrr). It might just be my keyboard though.

Overall the hardware is quite wonderful and glad that it comes with Debian installed right out of the box. The battery life so far appears to be fantastic!

Update: Seems to be an issue with my keyboard. I plugged in an external USB keyboard and didn't have any issues with key responsiveness.
  Reply
#8
(10-01-2019, 04:03 PM)kunger Wrote: Well, it's finally here. And, it was well worth the wait.

I received notification via SMS on yesterday morning that DHL had a package for me that was going to require a signature. Every few hours I would receive an update on its current status as it made its way through customs and to my local DHL office. It was delivered today just before noon, no signature required... and no customs fees. ( I'm in the US )

The laptop was packaged inside a foam sleeve, inside a cardboard box, inside another cardboard box, inside a padded envelope, inside a DHL plastic bag. None of it was branded Pine64 in any way. The only thing included besides the laptop itself is a small wall-wart style AC adapter with a barrel plug for power. I have not yet tried charging via USB-C.

The laptop feels sturdy, has clean lines, and the keyboard feels great; aside from it being ISO.

The screen is crisp and easy to read, with no dead pixels or faults of any kind.

My initial opinion of the software was a little concerning, as I couldn't get audio to work and the key mappings seemed to be wrong. Both of these issues were corrected once I used the rock/rock credentials instead of root/root. The root/root user has a base MATE configuration, while the rock/rock user has been customized somewhat in ways that I personally find preferable. For example, the panel has been moved to the bottom and it includes a launcher which works with the Pine64 branded super key.

I've been using the laptop off and on for the last 6 hours on WiFi, and I'm currently sitting at 56% battery. It came to me at 100%.

Video playback is smooth, and the audio isn't bad for such a small/inexpensive device. One thing that really stands out to me is the keyboard. The keys feel just firm enough with no sponginess. It really is a pleasure to type on. Though, I might have to give in and buy the ANSI keyboard once it becomes available.

I didn't purchase the SSD adapter, as I assumed that I would be getting the ANSI keyboard at a later date anyhow. Even with the EMMC, the boot times are better than other laptops I have which contain SSDs. The stock image is consuming just under 5GB.

I'm happy to answer any questions, and will continue to provide updates as time goes by. So far, it's worth every penny of that $199.

K
Thank you for sharing your detailed and comprehensive experience to date!

If you try to go with an ANSI keyboard later it would also be very interesting to hear about that experience.

Cheers!
  Reply
#9
(10-01-2019, 06:28 PM)jabo Wrote: First day with the PineBookPro. This screen is pretty bright! The more I type the more I enjoy the keyboard. They ISO layout is still taking some time to get use to. I never used an ARM device that wasn't a phone before so this will also be a learning experience for me as well. Chassis feel firm with minimal keyboard flex. Camera is oddly enough not flush with the top of the laptop. Not sure how this will affect placing a camera cover just yet. All in all this is a better experience that all other laptops I have used at this price point. I can't wait to learn more and put it to use on this little guy.

A camera cover shouldn't be necessary as there are kill switches on the keyboard that physically cut the power.
  Reply
#10
How long does battery last till full discharge?
  Reply


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