Beepberry is a pocket computer designed for instant messaging. It’s also a hackable, customizable device that can be repurposed to do a bunch of other things.

It features a 2.7 inch black and white Sharp memory LCD display and a keyboard that’s literally a spare part from a BlackBerry Classic smartphone. Beepberry is designed to work with a Raspberry Pi Zero W single-board computer and run software that connects to the Beeper messaging service. But you can also bring your own similary-sized single-board computer and software to make the device your own.

Beeper is a multi-platform messaging service that allows you to use a single app to chat with users on 15 different services including WhatsApp, Slack, Google Chat, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Discord, and even iMessage (if you’re willing to leave an Apple device running constantly to act as a “bridge”).

Beeper was founded by Eric Migicovsky, who’s also the founder of the now-defunct ePaper smartwatch company Pebble. He’s also the driving force behind the Small Android Phone initiative. Clearly he has a thing for small, versatile, hacker-friendly gadgets.

To create the Beepberry, he teamed up with another hackable ePaper watch designer: SQFMI, the maker of the Watchy smartwatch.

At this point Beepberry is more of a dev kit than a product designed for end users. For $79 you can pick up a Beepberry with a 2.7 inch, 400 x 240 pixel display, a backlit keyboard, a printed circuit board and a 2,000 mAh battery.

But the dev kit doesn’t include a case: you’ll have to 3D print or buy your own. You’ll also need to supply your own microSD card for storage and install software yourself. And you’ll have to figure out how to hold the battery in place on your own.

The starting price also doesn’t actually include the computer that powers the Beepberry. You can either pay $99 for a kit that includes a Raspberry Pi Zero W or bring your own single-board computer.

While the Beepberry was designed to be a portable messaging devices that runs a Linux-based operating system and connects to the Beepberry service, it also doesn’t currently have any sort of cellular functionality. You can connect to the internet over WiFi thanks to the wireless capabilities of the Raspberry Pi Zero W. But if you’re planning to use it in places without WiFi access then you may need to bring along a full-function phone or mobile hotspot to share your internet connection.

But according to the Beepberry blog, the makers are considering adding support for a 4G LTE modem, LoRA radio, or other hardware by leveraging the USB ports or GPIO pins.

And since this thing is basically designed to work with small, low-power, Linux-compatible single-board computers, there’s nothing stopping you from using it as a portable terminal, gaming device, or for other applications.

The Beepberry is available for purchase from the SQFMI shop, although supplies are limited: only 50 were in stock when the product was announced yesterday, and it’s unclear if any of those are left. So you might have to wait for the next production run to be completed before you can get your hands on one.

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  1. why put raspberry pi zero w when is raspberry pico 2040 ?
    fuzix can run on it. and wifi can add very simple ro 2040.

    nice idea, cheap (goooood!) and not exteremely fat.
    if second rev will be better power , meybe some emergency source (AA, 18650, stepper up from 1-5V , solar panel etc) it will be interesting
    I’m waiting similar but with orange crab and better keyboard

    1. It was not mentioned, but if you view the specifications on the product page and look at the photo of the back of the there board, there IS a Pico 2040 built into it (on the bottom left). So if all you need is the Pico then just get the cheaper option without the Zero and have at it.

      1. I just wrote this. if it is 2040 then why zero?

        It will run at least fuzix on it. But the question is how long it will run. If less than a month then why do I need such a machine?

        1. If you need a month of REAL USE on a charge, design your own machine or continue dreaming. I have pocket computers running for months or even years on a charge, but most time they are in suspend mode.

          You can get 1 month in suspend mode on a lot of modern devices (even my Android smartphone last that time in offline mode and stopped apps) but if you want 1 month using a machine intensively each day on that month, look for something like HP 48 pocket computer, or design your own with very weak CPU and/or big batteries.

    2. Because same people want to run Linux and RP2040 microcontroller can’t handle it: it has like 264 KB RAM?
      You can do a lot of things with that microcontroller and 264 KB RAM memory, but you can do much more with Pi Zero or similar boards. I suppose the more limiting factor there is memory, only 264 KB RAM, because two Cortex-M0+ processors running up to 133 MHz could have more horsepower than a lot of old IBM PC clones.

      On other side that RP2040 microcontroller could be used only for keyboard and other auxiliary asks on this computer, but it could be it isn’t connected to LCD display. Product page says «Onboard RP2040 MCU (for keyboard and peripherals control)». It could be LCD is considered a peripheral, or it could be not as it is included on main board.

  2. Really interesting. If a future production run includes case (enough good case) for this pocket computer, and it is hackable so I can run Linux terminal on it, I will buy it.

    The point I don’t like is bluish white keyboard LED light. It would be perfect with red LED light for keyboard.

    1. Since you’re assembling it, it will be pretty easy to run any software on it as long as you’re willing to make that software play well with the small screen. It should be pretty easy to get a terminal running. Whether that’s as interesting with the limited keyboard, though, I can’t say.

        1. It is the same problem on all those very small displays: I’ve used HP 100LX/200LX (640×200 resolution), Zaurus SL-Cx000 (640×480) and Nokia N900 (800×480), and on all of them you need to change font size to bigger to see it comfortably. On other side, at least this pokcet computer uses best non-backlighted LCD display on market, active-matrix Sharp Memory LCD, while HP 100/200LX (MS-DOS compatible) used horrible passive-matrix LCD display with lower contrast and worse definition (It was a downgrade in contrast and definition compared to previous HP 95LX and other LCDs on HP pocket computers and calculators).

          1. How long did this Zaurus run on a single charge vs. how long will it run beepberry ?

          2. @23wr2: I don’t have Beepberry to test. Beepberry would save on LCD (no backlight) but you can’t see that display if there is no enough ambient light (on other side it is sun readable). It could add backlight or “surrounding” light for that situation, and you only need to activate it on low ambient light, while on actual color LCD you need backlight on all time, more power if there is more ambient light.

      1. It is a small keyboard from cell phone, but I think Blackberry keyboard was best ones on smartphones (this is not a real BB keyboard but a replica), and a lot of people used possibly worse onboard keyboard on Nokia N900 running Linux (there was terminal too on Maemo OS on N900). On both cases you need a lot of extra combination keys.

  3. It would definitely grab my attention if it could fold in half to protect both the screen and keyboard.

    1. It doesn’t have case but you are asking for foldable case design :O

      Design is similar to classic Blackberry, so no fold there. And I don’t know if a foldable design would be ok for such a small pocket computer inlcuding RPi board. Best scenario would add weight, a lot of extra cost and complexity for a very small run production.

      1. design case? tell me how create sony vaio pocket similar case
        wide screen, wide keyboard (big normal keyboard with smal keys)

        BTW many people need normal terminal without compromise

        1. I don’t see relation between this Blackberry-like physical design (keyboard and display size) and a mini-notebook Vaio design.