Pandora Cube?

June 2, 2009
Posted by: Butterman


Pandora’s Box?

Craig has posted an interesting poll on the forums. He asks us if we would be interested in a “Pandora Cube”. Identical hardware to the Pandora (bar the keyboard, speakers and screen) . You would have to plug in your own controllers and what not, but Craig sees it working as a home entertainment system. He quotes a rough price of $200 – $220, that’s $100 off the current Pandora asking price. The standard definition TV out may put many of you off, considering we live in a high definition age.

Head over to the forum and take a peek, I’m sure Craig is looking for lots of feedback.




  1. A home entertainment system with pandora controls and a battery? who needs that?
    If people need a stationary arm system they will just stick to a media center pc or a beagleboard.
    I hope this won’t come true because it could really ruin compatiblity of the software and make it harder to maintain software, given the different resolutions.
    I can only see it happen as a dev-board which would be a good to have, but battery and pandora-controls are useless there too.

  2. Well, considering the digital output of the OMAP is no longer in used, I bet they would throw in an HDMI connector or at a least DVI-D one into the mix.
    Only problem (and reason why I would not buy it) is that it still won’t be able to do 1080p video, at least h264 video.

  3. No thanks I just want my Pandora already.

  4. I really don’t care to fiddle around with a media centre PC. If you can give me something that works all simple and easy like my PS3, but allows me to run any software I want, then I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

    In addition to my Pandora.

  5. @rofler
    agreed, one step at a time

    As for a home entertainment system, i would just buy myself a beagle board, case it, and pray for a stable Game-oriented Angstrom image, then use Ethernet -> usb adapter, no need for blue-tooth or any of other bells and whistles.
    If it were made although, i think there would be a fair amount of people willing to buy in.

  6. I suppose that it won’t suit us as we’ve brought a Pandora might be an option for later adopters.

  7. I would love to see a tablet/slider form of a pandora. Maybe I would be intrested in the cube if it had a larger screen…

  8. Interesting idea Craig that you should go forward with since it can coincide with the Pandora production easily.

    Here’s my ideas:
    I would use the Pandora as a template, remove the screen portion(top part), include two extra shoulder buttons on the “cube” part so it can be used by itself as a controller for TV-Out gaming. The cube itself would really be a quadrilateral the size of a complete Pandora that you can still fit into a pocket.

    Also, (maybe) make it a usb host device using the single SD slot that it has(one SD slot was removed so more ports like another USB 2.0 could be included) for when people want to hook it to another PC. One SD slot is plenty.

    Offer the “rectangle” in more than one color option. Maybe even clear.

    Include some small speakers for those who forget their headphones.

    I do think the keyboard and gaming controls in the Pandora should be included in the “rectangle” which could possibly be crafted into the shape of an isosceles trapezoid for the cool factor and for the extra space needed for the several USB ports, VGA, HDMI, or whatever else people and your team want and can include.

    Really go forward with this Craig. I believe if price is kept to about $199 or less you can have a winner here.

  9. Rob, you should post in the forum(as this is the unofficial site, so there are no guarantees that he reads what the community “finds” out

    but why include speakers, usually a TV already has audio input by default?

  10. Also maybe make the corners more roundish like an SNES gamepad and perhaps curved slightly like an XBox controller and on the bottom like a Hori Gameboy Gamepad. (Yes, i’m excited about this.)


    Possible names:
    You could call it the Pandora Go!
    Just kidding, maybe you could call it the Pandora Bridge, the Pandora Passage, or my favorite, the Pandora Core.

  11. Yeey, let’s start a new project! When does the preorder start?

  12. Will they fucking focus?

  13. Ah your right Kloplop about the speakers. I got overexcited. 🙂

  14. I think it’s really bad timing too announce such ideas when we are waiting for our Pandora.

    It just feels weird that we haven’t heard much what’s going on with, for example the hinge and/or d-pad and now they have a new project in focus… weird weird

  15. Sounds kinda cool… I could see my brother getting one.

  16. Yeah or maybe Craig mentioned the Pandora Cube because they are nearly done with the Pandora.

  17. @r00tw00t I wouldn’t say this is “on focus”, and it’s not at all odd that they would be moving on to think of what they’ll be working on next.

    Think of video games, it’s common knowledge that when a company like iD Software releases a game, they’re already working on they’re next game (or game engine), it would make sense for the OpenPandora team to think of ideas for the next project they’ll work on. The only difference is that iD software doesn’t announce what game they plan on making until it’s finalized that it’s what they are going to make, whereas Craigix and the OpenPandora team communicate they’re ideas to the community before they begin work on a device, thus people hear about it much earlier.

    But I’m sure it’s perfectly natural in this type of development to think of the next device early like this.

  18. Well, modred11, that would be a more accurate analogy if iD took preorders for doom 4 7 months ago and still appeared to be quite a while away from finishing the game and then assigned half the team working on doom 4 to another project

  19. Would be bought, but only with hdmi/dvi out 🙂 Otherwise its worthless for me.

    Cheers, murphy

  20. I hope this isn’t a sign of trouble.

  21. I don’t know, the market is already getting flooded with nettops, media boxes, …

    The reason why the pandora has a loyal following is because this handheld thing is unique and has never been done before.

    But if they could keep the prices low enough and the features compelling enough then maybe they can create another awesome device!

  22. I agree with Murphy. Am on the Pandora waiting list myself, but have a few friends who might be interested in the proposed Pandora Cube. If they do go ahead with it and indeed a possible hdmi/dvi out, it should be optional.

  23. This development is not new; they mentioned a long time ago that they would want to maximise on the investment they have made on getting the pandora h/w together by releasing other products using the pandora’s guts. No need to worry that they’re wasting time, or delaying the pandora at all, they’re just gauging interest.

    And to the people talking about gampad design etc, read the post, the cube would NOT be a controller or anything like a handheld, it would just be a small console.

  24. Ah! Does this mean the first run of case got stuck in the closed possition and you need to flog a few “cubes”?

    Wouldn’t that be a beagleboard in a box, which does High Def, I think. http://beagleboard.org/ Barebones this is about $150. So if the price was about $200-220 mark then that’d be reasonable for a more rounded product.

    @cragix – It’s a creative idea and as long as it doesn’t stop you liking the postage stamps I’d like to read more. Unlike to shellout any more dough. The wife thinks I’ve already thrown away $330, but I remain on of the faithful.

    Last thought: The cube has already been done (game____). How about a dodecahedron or something wacky?

  25. Would need HDMI (or min Dsub) and no need for battery. If it is a media box, the AC power would be fine. Costs should be even lower than 199 when you take out keyboard, screen, gaming controls, nubs and battery. Also would need a bluetooth remote to be functional, so costs may come back to 199 anyway , who knows???

  26. That was the last straw. Now I’m finally starting to believe that the whole Pandora is indeed a hoax.

  27. Seriously, the idea itself may not be bad and might be interesting to discuss once they start the production of the 2nd batch. Right now? Sounds like a very bad joke.

  28. Seems to me to be a win win idea.

    A set top box sitting by the side of your tv that allows an everyday person to run open source software with a fairly active community developing easy to install stuff.

    Your typical pandora owner being able to take a game/app/movie whatever on the go and then use it at home with no converting or messing around…

    It would widen the community and that can’t be a bad thing.

    Yes, peeps have been waiting for a pandora for a while but I don’t see why this would delay that as it still seems to be the priority.

  29. This won’t take focus away from getting the first batch out. They’re just throwing the idea out there.

    It wouldn’t be much of a player in the HTPC or home console market, but it could do well in the Beagleboard/Gumstix/SheevaPlug market. I’d consider buying one.

  30. Unless it can do something a PC could do at an equivalent price, which I severely doubt, I couldn’t recommend this to anyone.

  31. well, if anything, the only thing I would care to see change (not that the cube isn’t a “bad” idea) with the pandora is the consideration of a more powerful processor… I saw in some news recently that one of the cell phone mfgs has released a 1GHz ARM processor. No clue what phone it is going to be in though (doubt the iphone, since apple didn’t make it)… if I remember correctly, it was either a slashdot or linuxdevices article…

  32. Oh, I’m for all this! It just needs HMDI or VGA out and we’re game! Moreover, with that guy already working on porting XBMC on the Beagle Board, this would be awesome on the Pandora Cube.

  33. FIRST OF ALL,: Pandora !

  34. i think they should just offer boards up for any modders to do as they wished, rather than develop concept more.

    First and foremost lets get pandora out there, then let modders do stuff with pandora boards – if it was to be a ‘home system’ then its going to need a lot more ram and USB connectors not to mention decent video connectors

  35. If you Homebrew a Wii, it does all the Pandora Cube does and more.

    Just my 2c worth.

  36. just get the pandora right and as quickly as possible
    all resources should be focused on that.

  37. “Your typical pandora owner being able to take a game/app/movie whatever on the go and then use it at home with no converting or messing around…”

    IMHO your typical Pandora owner ought to be able to plug in the TV-Out cable and use the Pandora at home anyway – after all, the Pandora is supposed to be great ANYWHERE. That includes at home.

    I don’t find this respectful of those who’ve paid out for advance Pandoras.

  38. NO!!

    my comp would do the jobs I want my pandora to do better. Only reason why the pandora is good is cause it is a one of a kind and really fills a gap in the market.

  39. btw a wii has worse specs than the pandora XD

  40. I’d really be interested in getting one if it can be easily used in a car (cables, operating, guide for professional fitting…). The ARM low power consumption would be quite useful here!

  41. Yeah, no need for a battery on a media centre…plus (as I understand it) you can’t use the Pandora while it’s charging. So I couldn’t watch/listen to content while it’s charging, that’s just weird.

    At any rate, already have a PS3. Bring on the Pandora!

  42. I would rather have a Pandora dock actually.

  43. Id suggest upgrading it to convert to a game controller for more of the modern consoles. Useful for a party situation where a bad case of “dude, where’s player 4?” occurs. I’d include a small built-in screen would be a good idea too.

  44. I think making this a controller would be best if they use the Pandora as a template and include the keyboard, nubs, controls. Think how little you’d need to haul around with you. All you’d need really is the cube, TV-Out, and Power Cable. If it is only ports then you would need all the above AND a game controller, a keyboard, and maybe a mouse.

    Without the keys and controls it would be another brick.

  45. Pandora without keyboard, LCD screen, and speakers == Beagleboard. So no thanks.

  46. That would be like the current Pandora but requiring a TV and more to play. And no keyboard? No controls?

    Perhaps if the initial product was already out, I’d think about it. But now… no thanks. Sorry.

  47. Yeahh I really lke the idea, I want a Pandora Cube! ;-))

  48. Why does Craig do these things? Whatever, I have a vacation in two weeks. Hopefully we can hear some good news in July. My thoughts of having the Pandora in August are going by the wayside. God damn, I am really starting to believe it won’t be out until Oct-Nov.

  49. I agree that I would be interested in a Pandora dock.

    As for the cube, my interest would be to use a platform for compiling, configuration, etc that I could save to SD and use with my Pandora without having to tie up my toy for that work. As such, I don’t care about game controls. As JayFoxRox was saying, I would want it to mirror the Pandora sufficiently to maintain EXACT compatibility. I would not even consider one at $200-220. Would probably have to get the price down to $100-150.

  50. I don’t care about this cube and would like to see it as another project not interfering here…

  51. Since Pandora can already be used as a console via TV and external gamepads, I don’t really see the value in this except possibly as a less expensive [official] dev box. The devs could probably come up with some cool programs that linked the functionality of both the Pandora and the Cube but how many people would really be able to take advantage of that.

    Now a Pandora netbook with a fullish keyboard and the actual Pandora gaming controls built into the casing might rock. Not sure…just talking out loud.

    I’d rather start talking about Pandora 2. They should probably get started on that pretty soon so that it’s out before the Pandora’s 5-7 year lifecycle is up. 😉

  52. Why would anyone bother with this when they can get an equally powerful Beagleboard for a cheaper price and with DVI out? This version of the Pandora is not needed.

  53. +1 for a good docking station instead of a cube

  54. This is an insult to all pre-orderers who financed large parts of this project.

  55. Look guys, alot of you seem misinformed or are throwing out conspiracy theories.

    Firstly, This is like a console, not something you hold in your hand and have wires going to your TV. The Pandora already has Bluetooth, so PS3 or Wii controllers would be a readily-available standard to settle on. Imagine it as an open-source dreamcast.

    Secondly, It isn’t going to delay the Pandora (nor is it proof that Pandora is fake or interminably delayed) this is about applying 90% of the hardware design they’ve already developed to a new product that serves a different user base, or supplements Pandora owners.

    Thirdly, the digital video out is currently used by the LCD on the pandora, without a screen this could be applied to HDMI or DVI, just like the beagle-board.

    Finally, since this product may be another year or more out, those faster Omap3 chips might be available (which are essentially drop-in upgrades). Some of them go up to 1Ghz, and the GPU runs at twice the speed of the Pandora. Imagine a game running at 480p on Pandora, and 720p on your TV.

    I would definitely be down for one, personally.

  56. you won’t make me believe that if they were to start this project that would not delay Pandora.
    Come on, anything has been delaying the Pandora, anything
    Focus guys, focus

  57. Geez, people, stop and think about it for just a second will you?

    – The mainboard is by far the most expensive component of the unit; not just to manufacture (which is obvious), but to *design* — complex custom circuit designs like that are very, very expensive to produce.

    – Once you’ve paid for the board design, you recoup your costs by selling things with the board in it.

    – If you can take that board, shove it in a different box and sell it into a *new* market, you can make more money than just selling into the handheld gaming niche.

    – The Pandora mainboard is a fairly powerful, very low power general-purpose computer, and is well-suited to other uses (even if some components like the gaming controls & keypad aren’t used).

    – The developers *discussing* their options for future opportunities is not going to delay the product they have nearly finished.

    They are not stupid; the fact that they have even demoed a working prototype should make that much clear. Give them some credit.

  58. “you won’t make me believe that if they were to start this project that would not delay Pandora.
    Come on, anything has been delaying the Pandora, anything
    Focus guys, focus”

    They’re not starting anything; they’re not retarded. They do realise we have been waiting a year, and they’re not about to start fannying about starting a new product at the cost of completely alienating their fanbase.

    Would you rather they spent the time that they are waiting for parts and MP to kick in just twiddling their thumbs?

  59. Because I am a brand-new Pandora customer who has not yet even received my first order for an OpenPandora, I don’t want to hear about a new Pandora project until I actually have the hardware I paid for in my hands! Otherwise it worries me as 1) it looks like they aren’t focusing on getting Pandora FINALLY out the door, and 2) at the moment WHY would I even think about buying a second Pandora product, when I haven’t even had the first product in my hands yet??

    So asking about a different Pandora project at the moment seems stupid to me.

    So, squeeze out Pandora 1 finally, THEN ping us about a new Pandora project, as by then we’ll actually have real hardware in non-development/in customer hands, so we can then make an informed decision (and so that then we know that Pandora is not vaporware!!)

  60. “Would you rather they spent the time that they are waiting for parts and MP to kick in just twiddling their thumbs?”

    They sure could use the break 😉

  61. The pandora cube could be a power saving option to a HTPC. With energy prices set to slam europe in coming years, this could be s strong advantage.

    Would really need vga/dvi/hdmi though

  62. Bouncing the idea around isn’t a bad thing, All OPLtd has to do is make one post and the community does masses of brainstorming, product evaluations, requirement lists, etc. Meanwhile the OPLtd gang can get back to working on the Pandora while we all flame eachother over it.

    That said, I think that any console of the Pandora must be to other -current- consoles as the Pandora is to current handhelds. That is to say any Pan-Cube needs to have competitive or superior hardware capabilities, while taking the opposite tact towards DRM that the console manufacturers are.

    That said, a Pan-Cube needs to compete against laptops and desktops that plug in to TV jacks of all sorts and perform all if not more of the functions that a Pan-Cube would do.

    My own $0.02.

  63. One thing i’ve noticed the open source community is good at is debating and debating and debating…

    62 comments just here alone(17 pages at the main site!!!) with many shaking their fists in the air yelling sour grapes conspiracy, many others asking for impossible or nonsense specs at this point with the present board, and a few that are useful to what was asked by Craig.

    I hope some of you know at least that socks are put on before shoes because bickering is POINTLESS. Too much “i’m right, you’re wrong” around here and gp32x(don’t bother stating the absurdity statement of “but that’s what forums are for”). That’s like saying a dog has a tail only so he can chase it.

    I’ll state it again.
    The team should scrap the top screen portion of a Pandora which would essentially make this a portable console/controller. That is the cheapest(for the team) and the most practical way of doing another Openpandora product. They could produce them concurrently and hit a lower price point.

    That is what you should do Craig.

    A win for everyone.

  64. “Would you rather they spent the time that they are waiting for parts and MP to kick in just twiddling their thumbs?”

    I’d rather they harass anyone late in delivering parts and causing quality problems, contact everyone relevant they can reach to generate buzz, get the firmware and launch-day software ready and polished, make better videos, etc. Craig has too much on his plate to add anything else, however minor. Seriously, the amount of money riding on this is just too much to think otherwise.

  65. I am 100% with you.

  66. @2010: Agree 100%

    And where is EvilDragon? He has been quiet for some while and I recall he or Craig said ED would be out with a new video pretty soon.

    Feels like something is wrong… or very much right and they are holding on too a surprise.

  67. @r00tw00t
    didn’t you know? Monday’s movie night.

  68. “Because I am a brand-new Pandora customer who has not yet even received my first order for an OpenPandora, I don’t want to hear about a new Pandora project until I actually have the hardware I paid for in my hands!”

    As should be obvious from the time its taken to get the Pandora into production, new products have a long lead time. Even if they are reusing exactly the same mainboard, and just changing the casing and peripheral components, I’d be surprised if the lead time for another product would be less than 6 months. If they’re treating this like a business (and they should be), once they’re not flat-out managing the current product, they should be considering future opportunities.

    The *specific* question is maybe a little misguided; I doubt too many Pandora owners would buy a second, very similar product. (Really speaking, they’ll want to target the Cube to a slightly *different* market to expand their customer base.) But gauging opinion on features for a set-top unit is not out of line.

  69. The company’s prerogative, once one product is done, is to get support in place for their customers, and to develop new products.

    Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are always thinking ahead. Just as one console is about to drop on waiting consumers, they’re already talking to partners about what cool chips they can have 5 years down the line. Its just the way any entertainment company that want’s to be relevant for more than one generation operates. Nintendo developed more than 6 successors to the original gameboy — every two years or so R&D pumped out a new platform, the reason we got the GBA instead of any of those, is because it took 10 years before there was serious competition and the GB business was starting to peter out.

    point being, a business is perfectly capable of moving on to new products as the production cycle of the previous is drawing to a close.

    The pandora hardware is done. Finito. Complete. Right now all that’s going on is software, mechanical issues, and certifications.

    It makes me wonder what all you doubters are thinking — enough faith to plunk down $350 USD, yet even an erring assumption of “lost focus” send you into a tizzy. Reasonable skepticizm is one thing, but saying that talk of future products is a sure sign of doom, is just crazy.

  70. Basically it comes down to this… are they going to redesign the board to add DVI out? If they are then the redesign will cost money therefore this plan is not as cost effective, if they aren’t then why wouldn’t you buy a Beagleboard? Can’t see any reason why this would be a good idea.

  71. “Are they going to redesign the board to add DVI out?”

    Unlikely. As you’re aware, that would be another expensive board redesign.
    However, the Cube wouldn’t have an LCD, so that video output is available; it’s possible the existing board is already technically capable of VGA/DVI out using a simple daughterboard.

    “If they aren’t then why wouldn’t you buy a Beagleboard?”

    For starters, the Beagleboard isn’t a consumer product; it’s just a bare board with no case…

    But I’d probably agree that if they can’t give it a better video output than s-video, it probably won’t have enough appeal as a product to be worthwhile.

  72. Wow, so many comments. o.O

  73. This is biggest reaction to a topic I’ve seen in a while…maybe it means the Pandora Cube will be a success? Like the Wii you either love it or hate it but it still sells

  74. @gmhuntr7
    Everyone’s waiting on the video and so we’re just flooding this post with comments because we’re impatient 🙂

  75. looks like the community is split about this one. 50/50 yay/nay. 😮

    jeez, just update the blog already, else I will have to go back to lurking the gp32x forums.

  76. well, how many of us *really* expects to receive their pandora? 8 months delay so far, perhaps it’d be better not to waste time in making videos or messianic posts once a month and to pursue the guys behind the delays. Trusting there is a project behind to be delayed, of course 🙂

  77. agree 100%

  78. I’d call it Pandora’s Box. Open it for a world of hurt, but close it just in time to keep hope.

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