PengPod is now shipping its first tablets to customers. These are 7 and 10 inch tablets that can run both Google Android and Linux.
When you first turn on a PengPod 700 or PengPod 1000 tablet, it will boot into Google Android 4.0, but there’s also an 8GB microSD card in the box which has a Linux-based operating system on it. Just pop the microSD card into the tablet and reboot it and you’ll have a Linux tablet.
Developer Neal Peacock raised over $70,000 during a fundraising campaign for the project last year, and while he missed the estimated January ship date for the first devices, he came pretty close.
James Dinsmore says the PengPod 7 inch tablet works reasonably well when running Android, but the Linaro-based Linux environment is much clunkier. He reports the touchscreen and on-screen keyboard are clunky and difficult to use.
Some early customers also had problems getting WiFi to work — but Peacock has posted an updated driver that should fix the problem.
Meanwhile some folks report they’re having issues booting or shutting down Linux, among other problems.
So here’s the thing about the PengPod tablets: they’re running software that’s still under development. In other words, if you’re looking for a user experience that rivals an Asus Transformer Pad or Apple iPad, you should probably look elsewhere.
They also have relatively slow processors — Peacock chose the Allwinner A10 chipset not because it’s bleeding edge, but because it’s cheap and there was already a level of community support for running Linux on the platform.
It’s an interesting project, but it’s probably best suited for Linux enthusiasts and hobbyists at this point.
The same may be true of the upcoming Vivaldi tablet with KDE Plamsa Active software — but since the team behind the Vivaldi is now designing the hardware from the ground up to support open source GNU/Linux software, I suspect the out-of-the-box user experience could be a little better on that tablet if and when it ships this summer.
Until then, you can order a PengPod 700 or PengPod 1000 tablet, a PengStick stick-sized mini-computer, or accessories such as microSD cards with bootable Linux images from the PengPod shop.
Or you can just live vicariously and check out an unboxing video from Films By Kris: