PengPod1040 hits Indiegogo (iPad-sized tablet dual boots Android, Linux)

The folks who brought us the PengPod line of 7 and 10 inch tablets which can run Android, Ubuntu, or other Linux-based operating systems are back, and this time they want to offer an iPad-sized tablet with a high-resolution display and a quad-core processor.

While there’s already a working prototype, the PengPod1040 will only go into production if the team can raise at least $349 in pre-orders through an Indiegogo campaign. You’ll be able to reserve a tablet for a pledge of $249 (or $220 if you’re one of the first 100 people to claim an early bird special). But if the campaign doesn’t reach its goal no money will be charged.

PengPod1040

The PengPod1040 features a 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 pixel display, an Allwinner A31 ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and it’s expected to ship with both Android and Ubuntu loaded to internal storage. You’ll be able to choose between operating systems at each boot.

The two operating systems will share a storage partition with around 11 or 12 gigabytes of space. That way if someone emails you a document or presentation you can save it to your device in Android, reboot into Linux and run LibreOffice or another office app to edit it. Or if you’re using Ubuntu and want to watch Netflix or use Skype, you can reboot into Android to do that.

Other specs include front and rear cameras, Android 4.1, Ubuntu 13.04 with LXDE, a USB OTG port and USB host port, HDMI, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and a 7000mAh battery. The tablet measures 9.45″ x 7.4″ x 0.39″ and weighs 1.4 ounds.

PengPod’s earlier tablets shipped with Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex-A8 single-core processors and Google Android software. If you wanted to run another operating system you had to load it on a microSD card. They also didn’t exactly receive glowing reviews at launch, but the new model has a faster processor, more memory, and a better display.

I haven’t been particularly impressed with the performance of the Allwinner A31 processor, but it is significantly faster than the single-core A10 chip. More importantly, PengPod’s developers says Allwinner has been pretty good about providing the source code and documentation needed to get GNU/Linux working on devices with the quad-core processor.

There’s even some support for 3D graphics and HD video playback in Linux using the PowerVR graphics chip.

The team did look at other processor options, but ruled out MediaTek and Rockhip processors due to limited documentation. Freescale offers plenty of documentation for its i.MX6 processors, but they cost more than Allwinner chips, and they aren’t nearly as popular with Chinese manufacturers for that reason.

Since the developers already had experience working with Allwinner chips for their earlier tablets, they decided to go with the Allwinner A31.

While 7 inch Android tablets seem to be doing better in the marketplace these days, PengPod says it sold two 10 inch tablets for every 7 inch model sold during its initial run. That’s why the developers are only offering a 10 inch model as part of the new campaign.

It costs more to build this new model, and they figured they had a better chance of meeting the minimum order requirements with the 10 inch model. If there’s enough demand, they could try another campaign for a 7 inch version.

At $249, the 10 inch PengPod1040 would still be cheaper than many 7 inch Android tablets, and thanks to support for Ubuntu, Fedora, and other operating systems, it could prove to be more versatile.

The new Indiegogo campaign will run for 35 days, and if successful, the PengPod1040 could ship by the end of the year.

  • Great Wall

    There are i.MX6 and Exynos 4412 tablets:
    http://dx.com/p/170409
    http://dx.com/p/236774

    I understand both have pretty complete documentation, Linux GPU drivers etc. Wonder if/when A31 devices will ever get this. (And why PengPod are bothering really…)

    • Neal Peacock

      The Exynos chips we looked at were too expensive. We have to make a profit to stay alive as a company and with their cost I dont think consumers would have been interested in our products.

      The IMX6 tablet you linked to is the exact one we attempted to use. The company claimed to open the kernel but did not, they just published the standard Freescale IMX kernel code with some tweaks for the TV box.

      The freescale init code requires all the pin configurations to be compiled in, which is very different from the Allwinner. These means unless you get the exact source from the OEM then you have to reverse engineer the physical layout or you can’t initialize the hardware.

      Also the model you link to has been discontinued, at least that is what Ampe said then. I assuming things for sale are just left over stock or clones.

      We went as far as to hire a consultant in China who could physically visit and get answers from the manufacturers and discovered they weren’t ever going to release the LCD config and the products would not be continued.

      • Great Wall

        Ah, choosing A31 makes more sense. (Well, the parts I understand at least ;)

        Thanks for the explanation, and sorry for sounding dismissive above. What about RK3188 devices though?

        Anyway, best of luck with the campaign! and A31-wrangling!

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    Why don’t they partner with Canonical and release this tablet with Ubuntu for Android.

    That would make rebooting unnecessary and result in a much more powerful product.

    • Neal Peacock

      We are game if Ubuntu is :-)

  • ersu

    Any hope for the 7 inch netbook model to ever materialise? I’d like to work while traveling even when there’s limited space and a keyboard case that has to be supported on a table does not cut it.

    • jeff_albertson

      I have to admit Im the same, at home I dont mind a 10inch tablet but when I travel or kill time at the kids various practices, the 7 inch really shines.
      Still, 249$ is a very good price. The only thing that worries me is the letfown-comparison Im bound to do with the Galaxy Tab and IpadMini we have. But the idea of being able to dual boot (Fedora was the clincher for me… pretty sure the idea of booting into The Unity would have been a deal breaker.