Pine64, maker of inexpensive, Linux-friendly laptops, tablets, phones, and single board computer plans to launch its first device with an ePaper display later this year.

While most of the company’s products to date have been low cost devices meant to spur open source software development, the upcoming PineNote will sell for $399, making it one of Pine64’s most expensive devices yet. But it will also be one of the most powerful gadgets to date on the eReader/ E Ink tablet space.

With a 10.1 inch, 1872 x 1404 pixel E Ink display, the PineNote is similar in size to a number of other ePaper slates. But under the hood, it’s powered by a Rockchip RK3566 quad-core ARM Cortex-A55 processor and it features 4GB of LPDDR4 memory and 128GB of eMMC storage. Basically it has the guts of Pine64’s Quartz64 single board computer, making the device as much a PC as it is an eReader.

The display supports 16 levels of gray and a refresh rate of 60hz. As an ePaper display, it’s highly visible in direct sunlight, but there’s also a front light with support for adjustable color, allowing you to view a white light during the day or a more amber light at night.

It also features stereo speakers, dual microphones, WiFi 5, a USB-C port and fast charging support.

The PineNote gets its name from it’s support for pressure-sensitive digital pens, allowing you to write notes or draw on the screen. There is also a capacitive touch panel, allowing you to interact with the tablet using your fingertips. Pine64 will include a pen with the tablet, but it should also be compatible with most digital pens that use EMR technology.

The PineNote has a sturdy frame made from magnesium alloy, a plastic back cover and a scratch-resistant hardened glass cover over the display.

Keep in mind that when the PineNote does begin shipping, it will be aimed at developers and early adopters and the available software may not have the level of polish you’d find from something like a reMarkable tablet, Onyx BOOX Note series, or the new Kobo Elipsa. But the PineNote is designed for folks looking for a more open platform. 

It’ll be a hacker-friendly device that most likely allows users to flash their own firmware, and the goal is to be able to run software featuring a mainline Linux kernel. 

Since the hardware is similar to the Quartz64, much of the work to allow the device to run a mainline Linux kernel has already been completed, but it will likely ship with some a custom BSP (Board Support Package) kernel if the E Ink display drivers haven’t been mainlined by the time the first early adopter version of the PineNote ships later this year.

The default user interface may be based on Plasma Mobile, much like the default UI for the PinePhone, but that decision has yet to be finalized and things could change between now and the time the PineNote is ready to ship.

You can find more details in the Pine64 August 2021 update blog post.

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22 Comments

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  1. For the price and a more refined product go with a Remarkable 2, it also runs on Linux and you can develop for it.

  2. Before you get to excited, consider

    ” Note:
    The Quart64 SBC still in early development stage, only suitable for developers and advanced users wishing to contribute to early software development. Both mainline and Rockchip’s BSP fork of Linux have already been booted on the platform and development is proceeding quickly, but it will be months before end-users and industry partners can reliably deploy it. If you need a single board computer for a private or industrial application today, we encourage you to choose a different board from our existing lineup or wait a few months until Quartz64 software reaches a sufficient degree of maturity ”

    Guess the SoC used?

    Ref: Pine64

    The modern Orange Pi sales model 🤐

  3. Pine hasn’t perfected anything, but they keep offering new stuff?

    They started with a phone; its not there yet. Right?

    1. The point of Pine64’s hardware is to include the tricky manufacturing stuff and then rely on the users for most or all of the software. It’s a terrible place to buy items for a nontechnical consumer or one who doesn’t want to deal with firmware at least once. For those who like the openness of open software, open hardware is also nice and Pine64 produces a lot of equipment which works OK, has documentation so it can be improved, and isn’t ridiculously overpriced or delayed.

  4. Think twice before you buy anything from this company. Being a former owner of both Pinephone and Pinebook Pro I can tell you that both of these devices are just crap in terms of hardware. Software is another thing as this is developed by community.
    For instance they sell Pinephone, which runs massively outdated SOC, for 150 USD with crappy modem and battery which doesn’t even last one day. At the same time you can buy a much better phone for like 30 USD from ali. After selling this for almost two years people are still having problems even with the basic functionality like answering a call or receiving sms. And the modem runs a proprietary, closed source software. There is a project that aims to replace user space part of the modem software but the core part of the modem software will always be proprietary. So it’s not even completely open source as they advertise it.

    As to the Pinebook Pro crap –> http://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=12415

    And all of these devices come without any warranty.

    PineNote for 399USD ? While you can have Samsung Galaxy Book Go for 250USD ?

    1. Not to be mean but it sounds like you expected a polished flagship experience which wasn’t realistic. It’s development hardware and you’re expected to make tweaks to it. The flip side is you’re allowed to make those tweaks, in fact you can do anything you want with it. Windows 10 on ARM on pinephone? Sure, go do it! That’ll be a lot harder with an equivalent $150 android device.

      That said the PBP’s pretty solid by now. Day to day usage is good, though I’m missing DP Alt Mode and haven’t out why. The Pinephone is rougher and I wouldn’t carry it as my only phone. Convergence mode makes it a pretty useful desktop with 4G.

    2. As the other other respondend said: Pine does not sell “products”. They sell development hardware. And they go out of their way to tell you as much. I have not seen a single place where Pine encouraged anyone to buy anything from them to use as a product. All I have ever seen is them going out of their way to tell you to not buy their stuff if you are not going to work with them on developing software for these devices.

      1. I’m ok with the statement – “we sell hardware”. But does this mean that the Pinebook Pro has to have :
        – overheating charging circuit resulting in battery usage even when connected to the power
        – underpowered usb ports resulting in a situation when actually no external device works except of simple usb stick
        – coil whine
        – almost unusable wifi card
        – only selected nvme drives working because of crappy pcie controller

        All of the above is poorly designed hardware. Nothing else.

        How should one develop anything on this when compiling a bigger project means that eventually PBP will run out of battery and die on you ?

        1. If you got actually faulty hardware, have you tried getting it replaced by Pine? I’d expect later batches of any given device to get better controlled for manufacturing quality…

        2. “All of the above is poorly designed hardware. Nothing else.”

          When the thread you linked shows a massive improvement when switching from Debian to Manjaro there’s definitely a software component in some of these. I get a reliable 100mbit/s both ways over wifi which is extremely usable but I’ll bet there were bugs on the Debian install that came from the factory.

          The rest of it is mostly power related and they could have done a better job there at the expense of compatibility. They really wanted that 5V barrel jack input but that limits you to 15W, so of course that 10W USB HDD is going to struggle as is that 10W NVMe drive, especially when you’re boosting 5V to 12V for it. That was the whole NVMe compatibility thing btw not the controller, if you use a high power drive they can brownout. If they’d used USB PD exclusively and a 12V 2A input that would have helped though I suspect it would have increased cost and complexity when they were trying to hit a price point.

          Ultimately it’s not perfect but it is usable, especially if you’re aware of its limits and try to work around them.

          1. The problems exist but they don’t want to aknowledge them. What’s more, they still produce this faulty thing. And sell it like nothing ever happened. Is this honest ? Is there a warning on their site “power subsystem is broken” ?
            As to the pcie controller. It’s also faulty. It was advertised by rockchip as x4. And then some guy from rockchip send an email and a patch to the kernel list lowering pcie controller to x2.

    3. I am not advocating for or defending the product in this post, but you’re comparing two clearly differently targeted devices. The Samsung you linked doesn’t have an e-paper screen, or support for a pressure-sensitive stylus, as far as I can tell.

  5. 60hz display?!
    How this is even possible, since all e-paper screens can’t go over 15hz ?!

    1. It’s not. Refresh on e-ink screens works in fundamentally different ways so that the concept of Hz as a measure of refresh speed makes no sense. This is probably just what the vendor of the screen told them as “merketing spiel”. To get a sense for the performance of the screen, look up the Bookeen Notea on YouTube. It’s reasonably fast for this kind of display, but you won’t be playing video on it.

  6. This is exactly a product that I want, and finally it’s coming from a source that I absolutely feel comfortable buying from. This will be a buy for me.

    All of the other options like this that have released recently have been from questionable sources. Like unknown Chinese companies that probably aren’t even interested in selling the product in my country, and if support disappeared, I’d probably have no hope of building any software myself.

    Seeing this come from a group committed to open-source projects supported by the community makes me feel better about investing in a product like this.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the interesting things the community will do with this device.

  7. mind blown

    Damnit, I got the Kobo Elipsa not so long ago, but now I also want this… What do I do?

    Btw, the physical shell of this looks identical to the Bokeen Notea – though that is an Android (8) device. This is all so very interesting and I can’t wait to see how this develops.

      1. Pine64’s Pinebook Pro is hypothesized to share its chassis with a larger company’s shell. The inside is custom though.

        1. Yep, the screen is from the same vendor as the Notea, hence also the identical pen.

          Though they seem to claim that the bottom shell will be made from their own magnesium material which they also use on the PineBook Pro? I guess that makes sense though if the internals are custom, so as to better mold around the PCB and other components.

    1. I’d argue it’s also pretty similar to the kobo elipsa.

      I don’t know what to feel about this, it seems great, but it’s expensive. Also I hate emmc and the absence of a headphone jack, the soc also doesn’t seem all that powerfull, but all in all it’s still more than enough for an ereader.

      1. Similar to the Elipsa in screen size and resolution. I actually own the Elipsa, and the front aesthetic, the back case, and the overall weight of the device are all really quite different.

        As for feelings, the good folks at Pine64 actually cleared my head about all this: “If you’re looking to buy a PineNote in the first batch, you must expect to write software for it, not to write notes on it. The software shipping from the factory for the first batch will not be suitable for taking notes, reading e-books, or writing your dissertation. It may not even boot to a graphical environment.”

        Sooo, as much as I want one, I think I will let the first batch go to people who will be in a better position to develop for the device. And I will probably be happy to pay more for it when software gets to a more useable state.

        1. I would buy a $400 Linux terminal on eInk that supported USB, knowing the Pine community will make the graphical environment happen later. I will buy this at some point.