Official status update

February 17, 2009


A status update has been posted on the official site. If any clarifications are required, we’ll add updates below. If you’d like to join the forum discussion, jump in here.

References have been added to the text and listed below. Much of this is pretty basic information, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned recently it’s that we shouldn’t assume that everyone knows every detail! As stated, this will be updated as necessary over the next day or so.

Without further ado, here’s the juice you’re waiting for…


as everybody is waiting, I thought I’d post some status informations. I’ll keep them up-to-date here, so everybody knows what’s happening 🙂


* Get the final CNCed case (ETA Feb25) [1]
* Wait until the mould of the keymat is finished [2]
* Design the final keyboard layout [3]
* Create mould of final case (can be done once the case fits) [4]
* CE / FCC testing (can be done once the case is here) [5]
* Mass Production testrun for the final boards [6]
* Stability testing (this will be fun) [7]
* Wait for the last remaining pieces for mass production (LATEST deadline is second week of March) [8]
* Mass Production
* Test the boards

Please keep in mind that it also takes some time to ship.

It won’t help if the case is finished in China, it has to go to Michael and then to the CE / FCC testing company, etc. [9]

Okay, some more info about the mass production:

We want to have a 48 burn-in test for the boards. [10] The failure rate on the first boards depends on how many we’ll test! [11]

In worst case, we have to test ALL boards, which will take a month – don’t worry however, as we can have weekly shipments of the already tested and working boards so the first guys who have ordered don’t have to wait so long.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope there won’t be many problems from now on!

[1] The CNC is the final prototype. About CNC
[2] The mould is the “cast” the factory will use for mass production. The physical keypad design is final, so the mould is being made.
[3] “Layout” refers to the key labels, fonts, etc. As per [2], there are no more physical design changes required.
[4] “Once the case fits” refers to the CNC case fitting together nicely.
[5] “Case” refers to the CNC case. Update: ED has posted some minor info on FCC/CE timeframe. The tests themselves only take a day or so, so they’re looking for a company who won’t make them wait too long. source
[6] A small number of Pandoras will be run off on the actual production line. (Exciting!)
[7] We’ll add details on this if/when we can.
[8] We’ll add details on this if/when we can.
[9] Corrected typo. “Case if finished” changed to “case is finished”.
[10] “48” should read “48 hours”. This is common practice for burning in new PCB designs, as any bad components will generally show themselves in this period.
[11] Re-worded for clarification: “The failure rate on the first mass production test boards, will determine how many we will test during full production.” If the component failure rate during burn-in is high, they’ll have to do extended tests on all the boards that come off the line. If the failure rate is only a few percent (an accepted level for electronics), they’ll know the hardware is robust and won’t have to do 48hr tests on every board.


  1. We must have been typing at the same time gruso – you won. 😉

    A real update on the front page? Amzing nobody ever thought of that before…

  2. Funny thing is 1 year ago idea was to deliver Pandora in August… That makes me ROTFL!

  3. Year ago this would have been great pda. Now I’ll probably wait for the rumored dualcore iphone.

  4. It still is a amazing device for me. If y weren’t buying a pandora, i still would be searching a good pocketable linux device.

  5. “anon” when you’ve finished waiting, the Pandora would have come out, plus the fact the iphone has crap controls for emulation and half of the games are arkward to play for longer than 2 mins, but fine you carry on waiting, we will wait in this line!

  6. May at the earliest then. 😦

  7. “Year ago this would have been great pda. Now I’ll probably wait for the rumored dualcore iphone.”

    Good luck!

  8. woo! official-ness

  9. I’m not sure that this was written by a native english speaker. (EvilDragon?) There’s a couple of oddities.

    OP.Org Said : “Wait for the last remaining pieces for mass production ”

    Does this mean physical pieces, as in parts, components? That’s the most straightforward interpretation, but we’ve heard already that this is done. I wonder if he means that they need to finished planning the details of how certain ‘pieces’ of the manufacturing process will go.

    OP.org said : “The failure rate on the first boards depends on how many we’ll test!”

    I hope this is a word-order problem, or else I don’t understand it at all.

    They should make the TODO list in a nice big font on the home page, then strike through the items one by one as they’re ticked off. That’d be fun.

  10. anon: show me something with comparable processing power/features/battery life/compatibility with existing linux applications, that can fit in your pocket, at the same price point as a Pandora, and i’ll consider something else. Fact is, if there is a dual core iphone, it will probably be expensive/tethered to a service plan that charges me for crap I don’t need. I basically want a laptop that can fit in my pocket and has decent battery life, so I could use it mainly as a media player and read an ebook, and sometimes if the mood suits me, play some classic games. It looks like the Pandora will deliver on those points.

  11. Amando: currently there are none, but they are much closer than a year ago. Hell, we have pocketable X86 machines comparable to the Pandora now, although they are more expensive and with quite lower battery life. but the fact is – they exist! Have you realized that the excellent battery life of Pandora is still hypothetical? That no one has connected a battery to a mostly complete Pandora and measured how long it can run while, say, playing video files?

    What is the Pandora?

    Open source handheld it is not. It is unique in that it’s a handheld with gaming controls and no built-in DRM so the entry barrier for software development is very low. But the device itself is not open source – only the bits mandated by law. Hell, they’ve already said they don’t want copies of the console – the very opposite of open source mentality! It will never attract open source zealots.

    It is not a rival to the NDS or PSP. The word “Linux” will kill any marketability to the kid and teenager crowd. It may be more powerful, but I really doubt we’ll see anything utilizing its potential completely in its lifespan. Hell, I doubt we’ll ever see a media player completely optimized for its DSP.

    If Pandora had come out six months ago, it would have been unique. Now, the only thing it has going for it are the gaming controls and those will only attract the emulation enthusiasts. Most of those are already aware of the project. Pandora’ real potential is not in gaming – it’s the pocketable computer angle that they must focus on if Pandora’s to ever break the 10.000 sales barrier.

    I really wanted this project to succeed, but Pandora’s too late to arrive unchallenged.

  12. Also, Nvidia Tegra.

  13. Nameless: I have to say I disagree with you on certain points. While the hardware design for it may not be “open source”, the software side is. It’s running, I believe, a completely open source OS (I’m not aware of any closed source components to the bundled apps or system software, though I guess a few drivers might be), it will likely primarily use open source development software (though there’s nothing to stop a developer choosing to use a closed source app), and besides, plenty of open source fans already run open source software on a “closed” hardware platform. ARM for instance, the CPU architecture used in the Pandora (and many, many other devices), is not an open design, yet there’s fans of open source running linux and other OSes on all sorts of ARM devices. I don’t think x86 is an open to use design either (AMD had an old contract with Intel, the other manufacturers probably license the architecture from Intel too), and I’m pretty sure Nvidia and ATI graphics cards are “closed” in their design, but you’ll find many, many open source fans, and even real zealots, using x86 computers with Nvidia or ATI graphics.

    I have no idea why the word “Linux” would kill the Pandora for the teenage and kid market – the word is also applied to the PS3 (I remember many PS3 related articles going on about it) simply because the PS3 allows you to install Linux, but that didn’t kill the marketability of that console (the price of it along with the low amount of exclusives may have made a dent though). People are going to expect a console to be easy to use, so I doubt there’s going to be teenagers running away in fear because they think “Linux is hard!!!” and that they’ll need to compile a kernel before they can boot the Pandora. And if they don’t know what Linux is, which many people still don’t, they’ll not really care what the word means – I mean how many average gamers actually knew what “Blast Processing” in the Sega Megadrive was? They didn’t really care about all those fancy terms, as long as they got a good console with good games.

    As both a pocketable laptop and a handheld games console, with standards like USB and SDIO, the Pandora is a very flexible little machine. You can use it to play games (and I certainly intend to develop new games for the system, as do quite a few others), use it as a netbook, you can likely use it as a GPS navigation device with USB/SDIO GPS hardware and appropriate drivers and software, or many other potential uses. As for media, even an inefficient implementation of video playback would likely cause no strain on the machine for most videos. I’m not sure if that DSP is meant to handle H.264 or not, but even if it doesn’t, it’s hardly a new thing to need to transcode some of your video files for a portable media player.

  14. nameless: The tegra does indeed look impressive! I’ll definately be keeping my eye on that device, it does look competitive, but here are some points that I did not mention before:
    1. yes the gaming controls are a big draw for me, I wonder if any of those devices have some kind of connectivity for a controller.

    2. I have heard no mention of wifi/bluetooth connectivity. This is very appealing to me, because I’d find it very convenient to transfer my files wirelessly without having to find/connect a cable/install drivers to have my device work. Furthermore, bluetooth headphones are just cool 🙂

    3. Pandoras have 2 sd card slots, so, using the maximum capacity of 2 (somewhat reasonably priced) sd cards at 32 gigs each, you could have a maximum of 64 gigs on your pandora to store media/programs without having to fumble with putting different cards into/out of the unit.

    4. I could be very wrong on this one, so please feel free to correct me, the linux game library while not as big as windows by a long shot, still has a superior selection to windows mobile. Emulators, dosbox, even native linux ports, and linux games can all run on linux, and run well (still kinda wish there was wine for arm platforms at this moment though, lol)

    If Nvidia can deliver on those four points, at a competitive price, then I’d say the Pandora’s days are numbered. If not, the Pandora will still have its fanatics, at least it will have this one 🙂

  15. Nvidia Tegra?… 0.000oouhh Shet.

  16. lol@tegra
    OMAP3 is real 😉

  17. @ AndyL: It’s a fair assumption that ED wrote the update.

    Re: “Wait for the last remaining pieces for mass production”

    I’m hoping for more details on this myself, and will update the main post if I get them.

    Re: “The failure rate on the first boards depends on how many we’ll test!”

    I believe this should be worded “The failure rate on the first mass production test boards, will determine how many we will test during full production.” If the component failure rate during burn-in is high, they’ll have to do extended tests on all the boards that come off the line. But if the failure rate is only a few percent (an accepted level for electronics), they’ll know the hardware is robust and won’t have to do the 48hr test on every board.

    I’ll add this to the notes above.

  18. Tegra APX 2600/2500 look indeed nice env to build something on…. AFAIK however A 600MHz Cortex A8 is about equivalent to a 1GHz ARM11. So, clock for clock, Cortex A8 is about 2-3x faster than ARM11.

  19. My view of the kid and teenager crowd’s reaction comes from monitoring a few forums for reactions to the Pandora. “Lolz, PSP for teh win, what ****ing ***rd would but this piece of ***” is the typical response.

    I don’t think the Pandora will fail, I just think it won’t go beyond the second batch.

    About video conversion – I am done with that! It’s not logical to pay premium for a device with the processing power and storage capacity for high quality video playback and then be unable to use it. Actually, I think an optimized media player is the one thing for which a compulsory developer fund payment of, say, 5$ per machine would have been a good idea.

    About Tegra, only the reference models exist, mobile makers will produce models with different specs. But you can count on most of them supporting wifi,bluetooth and some sort of internal storage (8-16 GB on higher end models) plus one micro/mini sd card. The reason windows mobile doesn’t have many open source games is that not many people see it as a gaming platform. The ones who could port free games usually look down on anything connected to Microsoft. With widespread, powerful GPUs from a brand name like Nvidia, game companies will follow. About gamepads, I already have a windows mobile device with USB host capability. You could, in theory, connect it to a USB gamepad, but you would need to find ( or more likely develop) a driver for it. It’s just not very practical. This might change if most of the devices have TV output and are designed with that in mind, but I doubt that.

    Nvidia’s battery life claims seem too good to be true – one PDF document from their website claims up to 30 hours of HD video playback. How much it will last in a real device with a real screen and other parts remains to be seen – just like the Pandora, in fact.

    Anyway, assuming there are no more delays, Pandora still has the edge in coming out first. We’ll see.

  20. Comments from PSP kiddies are absolutely no indication of how successful Pandora may be. They’re about as far away from the target market as it gets.

  21. Of course. The target market is very specific and very small. That’s what I’m trying to say.

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