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.