The Pinetab with magnetic keyboard
The Pinetab with magnetic keyboard

I dream of owning a proper Linux tablet, one running something like Ubuntu — and that dream just took a step closer to reality.

Pine64 plan to release a 10-inch Linux tablet later this year priced at a ludicrously low $79.

The company is already well known as the makers of several popular (and cheap) ARM 64 single-board computers, as well as the $99 Pinebook laptop, so it’s certainly got form in this arena.

But might it be the first proper Linux tablet too?

Arguably, the BQ Aquarius M10 Ubuntu Edition was the first real Linux tablet to go on mass sale to the public.

But the M10’s mid-range hardware and mid-development OS was a pairing destined to disappoint. The device was, to quote one one OMG! reader of the day, “functionally unusable”.

A true, fully-fledged Linux tablet running mainline Linux kernel, with a familiar desktop OS, and the kinds of apps we all use has been… Well, hard to find.

As such expectations for the PineTab are going to be amped — so, no sweat Pine 64 ;)

PineTab Specs

The PineTab is a 10.1-inch tablet built around an Allwinner ARM64 SoC similar to the one used in the $99 Pinebook.

Performance wise this chip should deliver a so-so experience (albeit depending on OS, app load, and so on). In theory, there’s no reason why it can’t offer a decent experience, as talented tinkerers of the Pinebook can attest.

That said, desktop Linux operating systems that currently support the Pinebook will need to make some adjustments should they want to work well on the PineTab (any devs reading this: resurrect the Ubuntu Netbook Edition launcher as it was a delight).

Here’s a quick overview of the key PineTab specs:

  • 10.1-inch HD LCD Display
  • Allwinner A64 SoC
  • 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM
  • 16GB eMMC
  • WiFi 802.11n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 5MP rear camera

Ports wise the Pinetab will tentatively offer:

  • USB 2.0 A host port
  • Micro USB 2.0 OTG port
  • microSD card slot

Pine64 say the tablet is built from a sleek black and ‘grippy’ plastic and features a volume rocket and ‘home’ button on the side, and a set of speakers on the rear.

“You will also be able to purchase a magnetically attachable keyboard for the PineTab, which doubles-up as a protective sleeve. The keyboard features an inbuilt trackpad and connects to the tablet using pogo pins that use a standard USB 2.0 interface, and folds in a way that also props up the tablet when its sat on a table.”

Intriguing!

On Sale Later This Year

The target price for the PineTab is $79, or $99 when bundled with the custom magnetic keyboard.

Anyone attending FOSDEM 2019 year will be able to get up close with a near-final version of the PineTab by visiting the Pine64 stand. If that will include you we’d (me, other readers, Linux tablet fans) would love to see some video and photos — so give us a ping!

Is this the Linux tablet of your dreams? Or just another low-end lump o’ plastic? Let us know…
What specs would your dream Linux tablet offer?

Note: Article originally published January 31, 2019.

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