the pinebook unboxed

It’s the $89 price tag that makes the Pinebook Linux laptop such a tempting purchase

But few real-world reviews exist for this cheap and cheerful device — until now.

Well, sort of.

Pine64, the company behind the 64-bit ARM-based Pinebook laptop, has begun to ship devices on a buy-to-order (BTO) basis.

And some these early units have landed in the hands of fans and the tech press.

What’s the performance like?

You’d be foolish to expect the Pinebook to deliver anything other than the sum of its parts (the capable, but not exceptional, maker board, the Pine A64).

Spanish website Muy Computer got some hands-on time with the $99 14-inch unit. Their piece speaks nothing to the actual performance of the device but offers a solid recap of the specs and a few impressions on the overall build quality (spoiler: better than expected).

But it’s a post on the Pine64 forum that helps sets expectations.

“I think that it’s fair to say you are getting a lot for the asking price,” forum member Luke writes in a review.

“If you are looking for a device in a convenient laptop form-factor that you wish to tinker with, then I feel it is safe to say the Pinebook is the right device for you – in particular if you are a developer or tinkerer who is willing to document, share and give back to the community.This is also especially true for those of you who wish to run Linux on the device, since Linux is by-and-large a community undertaking,”

“I don’t wish to discourage anyone from getting a Pinebook, as it is a good piece of hardware,  but if you are looking for a device to replace for your current work or school laptop then perhaps it’s wise to look elsewhere.”

Better Looking than Before

Aesthetically the Pinebook is said to have had a few cosmetic tweaks since development prototypes surfaced online last year. The clamshell casing is now made from a more robust plastic, and is thinner in all the places where it matters, like the screen bezel. The device is also neater looking inside as well as out.

Another minor change that will please Linux fans: the final production unit apparently does not ship with a Windows key. I know may of you spotlighted the inclusion of one on a device that can’t run Windows.

Size aside, both the 11.6-inch model and the 14-inch Pinebook use the same TN display (both have a 1366 x 768 resolution). They also share the same hardware inside too, being composed of a quad-core 64-bit ARM Allwinner SoC, Mali-400MP2 graphics, 2GB RAM and 16GB of (user-replaceable) eMMC storage. 

Battery life is estimated at around 6 hours of continuous use.

OS wise Android 7.1, BSP Linux and mainline Linux builds are available, but only BSP Linux will ship on the production units according to the above Pine64 forum post.

Demand for the Pinebook seems to have been far greater than the company was expecting too. The news leaking early likely contributed to this. An The BTO queue is said to be “10 months long.”

Somewhat amusingly shipping prices for the laptop (hitherto unknown) can cost as much as ~1/3 of the product price depending on your distance from Hong Kong, where they ship from.

No warranty (!) is offered on the Pinebook outside of a 30 day money back guarantee.

Thanks Koi

Hardware pinebook