The developers of the DragonBox Pyra are designing a handheld game console with a 5 inch, 720p screen, an ARM Cortex-A15 processor, 2GB of RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a compact design, while still featuring game controller buttons and a QWERTY keyboard.

The system is designed to be as open as possible, supporting GNU/Linux software.

The project was unveiled over a year ago as a sort of follow-up to the OpenPandora and it could ship by the end of 2015. So how are things going so far? One of the project’s leaders recently released a video showing the latest prototype.

pyra

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8 replies on “Lilbits (5-01-2015): Building (another) open handheld game console”

  1. I followed the Open Pandora project from the beginning (when it was just a discussion on the gp2x forums). I really wanted one, but when it came out it was far too expensive, and there were other toys that stole my attention. I cant remember the exact price for the original Pandora, but I remember prices of $500-700 for various models over the years.

    Around 2008 and 2009 was also when Android was taking off. There were alot of promising electronics on the horizon, and there was no reason to spend such a silly amount of money, no matter how specialized it was to my desires of a portable retro gaming system.

    The qwerty-keyboard made it very interesting in 2008, because that is around the time that Smartphones were abandoning the idea of physical buttons, and my portable-emulator days were numbered (I was looking for a replacement to my aging Windows Mobile device).

    Now its 2015, and I’ve learned I can live without a qwerty-keyboard (or at least I wont pay $500 for one), and an Android tablet with gamepad controls costs $130 (check out the JXD S7800B).

    I`ve owned lots of open source portable handhelds over the years (GP32, GP2X, Dingoo, etc), and they all suited my needs. Right now, if I wanted to play retro console games, I would pick up a GCW-Zero for $160.

    I don’t see myself wanting a combination UMPC/Gaming system anymore. My UMPC desires are optimistic about the future of Windows 10 devices, and my retro-gaming desires are satisfied with the devices in the $150-200 range.

    Having said all this, the Dragonbox Pyra looks like a very cool device, and I do like the OS.

    1. exactly
      i bought GP2X Wiz and Archos Gamepad. The later had the advantage of running Android Games and having usable browser/mail-client/whatever what made it far more fun, while the Wiz is the perfect size for a mobile gaming system.
      I loved both devices, even though both have problems, and used the heck out of them.

      I wouldn’t buy another device like these.

      Why? I now tend to play right on my smartphone. On-Screen-Buttons still suck, but i got a DS4-Controller and a GCM10 mount to attach it to my phone. It does all what those previous devices did, if i have DS4 with me, then it does it better. If not, then i’m still able to play AND have all my savegames with me.

      Yes it looks like a great device. 2-3 Years ago i’d have bought it instantly. Now i wouldn’t even consider it.

    2. If your use of the device is exclusively to play 16 bit and earlier games, I agree with the GCW-Zero recommendation. . . Kinda.

      I own one, and I’m sorta bummed that a lot of hardware features were ‘to be implemented by the community’. The big one being any sort of video out.

      The Pandora is / was a great device for someone who likes a full ARM based Linux system in their pocket. There’s not ANYTHING like it that has been made in the last 8 years. IIRC, only the Sharp Zaurus came close.

      1. You’re right, the Pandora is the only device that I can think of that provided a desktop Linux experience in a sub-notebook/UMPC device. But just because it is unique, doesn’t make it relevant.

        But I think the reason it is so unique is a lack of relevance. The ‘cool’ factor is definitely still there. But when I think about the things I want to use that device for, all of those things can be done on an Android device.

        When it comes to UMPCs, I’m not even slightly interested in ARM powered Linux (theres just not enough software available). I’m waiting for the return of devices like the Sony Vaio P (UMPC-sized 7″ clamshell laptop).

        When it comes to portable gaming, I don’t see any need for further innovation.

        When it comes to a crossover device that costs more than both devices combined, not really interested.

        The low-volume, low-interest nature of a device like this just doesn’t allow for the price I have in mind. Something like this could be made for $200, if there were more buyers.

  2. I wish they’d have used Atom but it’s definitely an interesting project.

    Not sure why they don’t have a more normal keyboard though.

    1. They don’t have a more normal Keyboard because it’s a Gaming Handheld first, and a full fledged Linux Machine Second. The Reason they didn’t go with Intel is twofold, firstly they order CPUs in such low quantities that most chip manufacturers won’t even talk to them, secondly they try to maintain backwards compatibility with the OpenPandora which also was ARM.

    1. I used to want an OpenPandora really bad, but I used a Nokia N900 around then and it was essentially the same thing, so I never bought one in the end. Same story with the Sharp Netwalker.

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