Fancy throwing $599 at the promise of a Linux tablet that can rival the Apple iPad? Now’s your chance.

JingPad A1 Specs

Disply: 11-inch 2K AMOLED
(4:3, 266 PPI)
CPU: Unisoc Tiger T7510
(8-core @ 2.0 GHz)
GPU: PowerVR GM 9444
Memory: 8 GB LPDDR4
Storage: 256 GB uMPC
Connectivity: Dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 5
Ports: 1x USB Type-C 2.0
microSD card slot
Battery: 8000 mAh
Other: 16 MP rear camera
8 MP front camera
Fingerprint reader
Noise cancelling mics
Price: $699 (RRP)

After months of teasing one, Chinese company Jingling has launched its crowdfunding campaign for the JingPad A1 Linux tablet on IndieGoGo.

And within mere hours of the effort going live the JingPad reached its (peculiarly modest) goal of $20,000.

At the time of writing this post 157 backers have pledged a combined total of almost $93,000 — and with 60 days left to go this figure is sure to rise!

So what’s got people excited?

JingPad is the ‘First Consumer-Level Linux Tablet’

On paper the JingPad A1 specs read like a dream.

The 11-inch tablet boasts a crisp 2K AMOLED display with thin bezels, has a comparatively beefy 8-core ARM processor, 8GB of RAM, and a roomy 256GB internal storage.

Best of all the JingPad runs an Ubuntu-based Linux distro (called JingOS) with an open-source UI tailored specifically for tablet use using Qt and elements of KDE Plasma.

And then there are the tablet accessories.

The base model comes with a 4069 pressure sensitive stylus. Jingling says the pen will work in Linux apps and Android apps (yes, this thing can run Android apps too, but more on that in a second).

There’s also a detachable keyboard is available for those who want added versatility.

The Jing keyboard offers a “full-size layout” and built-in multitouch trackpad. The keyboard connects via pogo pins rather than Bluetooth. It also has a uniquely engineered hinge that allows up to 135° viewing angles of the tablet when connected.

A few interesting things to note about the JingPad.

First, from what I can gather the tablet does not run a mainline Linux kernel (though the x86_64 downloadable betas of JingOS do). Instead, the version of the OS shipping on the tablet is a hybrid, built atop an Android kernel (in much the same way Ubuntu Touch did) based on Linux Kernel 4.14 LTS.

A recent hands-on video

Why the fudge? Drivers. The underlying hardware is supported by binary drivers only (i.e. not open source) in an Android Linux kernel. For JingOS to take advantage of its underlying hardware… It has no choice, short of reverse engineering an open source alternative, but to use them.

Secondly, the JingPad will be able to run Android apps. The exact mechanism of this is a bit vague and not, at the time of writing, confirmed as being open source. Devs say their custom engineered solution is not based on Anbox, the best-known Android-apps-on-Linux effort, and not every app will work.

JingPad is Crowdfunding Now on IndieGoGo

Crowdfunding campaigns are risky. You are NOT guaranteed to receive anything in return for your money. Think carefully before deciding to back ANY project.

Chinese company JingLing seek a mere $20,000 to bring its premium-sounding slate to market, and to kit it out with a fully-functional Linux distro with tablet UI and a handful of native JingOS apps. And within hours of the campaign launching they met the goal.

The full set of tiers available:

  • $99 – JingOS t-shirt (50 available)
  • $549* – JingPad + Pen (300 available)
  • $599 – JingPad + Pen
  • $699* – JingPad + Pen + Keyboard (300 available)
  • $749 – JingPad + Pen + Keyboard
  • $1098 – 2x JingPad + Pen
  • $1398 – 2x JingPad + Pen + Keyboard

* For early-bird backers only.

The numbers reported on the IndieGoGo page show that (at the time of writing) just 34 tablet ‘perks’ have been claimed, and one very enthusiastic person claimed the $99 JingOS t-shirt perk — it must be a very nice t-shirt for that price 😅.

I don’t know how those numbers stack up to reach the current $93,000 total, but clearly the JingPad is finding itself an audience — and not just with consumer.

Jingling, the company behind the JingPad and JingOS software, benefitted from a $10 million cash injection earlier this year, and now has over 80 people working for it to develop the JingPad hardware and JingOS software.

Want to join in? You’ll find it on IndieGoGo at the link below.

Visit JingPad on IndieGoGo

If you’re excited for the JingPad but don’t want to risk paying money for something that evaporates you could wait until it actually ships, which is anticipated later this year. While you’ll have to pay more for a tablet (the RRP is $699) you’ll have the certainty of a) knowing it exists, but b) some idea of who well it runs.

And it’ll be interesting to see the first honest reviews. I say ‘honest’ because Jing was planning to ‘reward’ positive reviews (!) with Amazon gift cards. They’ve since removed the forum post detailing the scheme so I’m hopeful they realised why such an approach is a weeny bit …problematic!

Are you backing the JingPad campaign? Let me know below!
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