The Astro Slide is a smartphone that you can also use like a tiny laptop thanks to a QWERTY keyboard that slides out from behind the display. Designed for touch-typing and inspired by the Psion line of handheld devices, the keyboard is quite different from the thumb keyboards found on BlackBerry-style devices or even modern devices like the F(x)tec Pro-1. The closest comparison I can think of is the PinePhone Keyboard, but that’s an optional accessory rather than a built-in part of the phone.

Planet Computers first unveiled the Astro Slide nearly two years ago and followed up with a crowdfunding campaign that closed in May, 2020. Now company has begun shipping the first units to backers and it’s taking pre-orders for the phone through its website, with an estimated ship date of March 2022 for new orders. But does the Astro Slide deliver on its promise?

According to one of the first real-world reviews of the phone… kind of. It’s a decent phone with mid-range specs and a chunky design (at 18mm or 0.7 inches thick, it’s kind of like holding two phones stuck together). And the cameras are apparently really underwhelming. But the Astro Slide delivers decent performance and has some custom software that makes Android a little more keyboard-friendly.

One remaining question? How well does this thing run operating systems other than Android? Planet Computers has promised users will be able to install Ubuntu Touch and other mobile GNU/Linux distributions. But that’s not covered in the review.

Astro Slide review: does this device deliver on the Psion Series 5 phone promise? [ Big Tech Question]

The Astro Slide smartphone from Planet Computers has a slide-out keyboard that lets you use the 6.4 inch Android phone as a tiny Android laptop. It began shipping to crowdfunding backers at the end of January, and real-world reviews are starting to arrive.

Exclusive: This is the intelligent Android lock screen Google never gave us [Android Authority]

Android 11 introduced smart home controls in the power menu… and they disappeared when Android 12 launched. But apparently Google considered making the Android 11 lock screen & always-on display way more powerful. Here’s a look at the cancelled plans.

Inside Microsoft’s mixed reality mess [Business Insider]

Microsoft has reportedly cancelled the Hololens 3 and it’s unclear whether there will ever be a first-party follow-up to the company’s first two mixed reality headsets, but Microsoft may have signed a deal with Samsung to developer a new device.

What’s coming for the Windows Insider Program in 2022 [Microsoft]

Microsoft will get more experimental with Windows 11 Insider Preview builds for the Dev Channel in 2022. Some features rolled out to testers will eventually go stable. Some will never ship. Beta Channel will be for features that are closer to shipping.

Windows Terminal Preview 1.13 Release [Microsoft]

The latest Windows Terminal preview brings an updated user interface, support for Win11 snap layouts, automatically launching a profile as Administrator or restoring recently closed tabs & panes plus a new text rendering engine and customizable bell sounds.

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  1. Not surprised in the least about Hololens. It’s a neat piece of technology, which no-one has managed to find a practical use case for.

  2. Did the F(x)tec Pro-1 every ship? That’s the refreshed version, right? Wondering if they’re working on another one now.

      1. My apologies, to clarify this is for the new version, the Pro-1x. The original version did indeed ship a while ago.

  3. How well will the Astro support other distros? Not very well.

    I was highly disappointed in the Cosmo Communicator who’s linux distro still cant really use cellular data amongst other issues. In short it won’t really have linux support due to Mediatek chipset.

    I got a Pro1 shortly after and LOVE the thing. Huge amount of hardware overlap with other linux projects, a good amount of ports, and FxTec has even hired a mainline developer for the pro1x. Both these phones were literally designed to be friendly to linux devs.

    1. Planet Computers committed to Mediatek for the Astro because it was the chip supplier their factory in China was used to using, and they’d used Mediatec in their two previous generations. But then Mediatek cancelled the shiny new processor they’d promised PC for the Astro, forcing them onto the lower-end Dimensity 800 … and everything got delayed by the semiconductor supply chain famine and COVID19 (which has caused random shutdowns, prevented PC staff from visiting the factory, etc).

      Upshot: it’s shipping a year late, with lower performance than originally planned (although they kicked it up to 8Gb of RAM) and still-limited OS support due to Mediatek’s unwillingness to release low-level APIs for their chipset.

      I imagine PC will think twice before using Mediatek for their next phone (assuming they’re still in business).