The Gemini PDA is a handheld computer designed to run Android and Linux, function as a phone, and feature a keyboard inspired by the classic Psion series of palmtops.
After running a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indieogogo last year, Planet Computers started showing off the nearly finished product at CES, and the company recently started shipping the first Gemini PDA units to backers of the crowdfunding campaign.
While some early reviews are pretty positive, some folks have reported a number of issues, including problems with the keyboard, USB ports, and more.
There’s at least one issue that Planet Computers has confirmed: the first 1,000 units manufactured have a different CPU than expected.
When the company first introduced the Gemini PDA, the plan was to deliver a device with a MediaTek Helio X25 deca-core processor. But eventually Planet Computers updated the Indiegogo page to state that the device would instead feature a slightly faster MediaTek Helio X27 chip.
It turns out that the factory went ahead and built the first thousand units using the X25 processor instead.
Planet Computers says all Gemini PDAs produced from here on out will feature the X27 chip. As for the folks who’ve already received a model with the wrong processor? Tough luck.
On the bright side, Planet Computers notes that its shipping devices on a first-pledged, first-served basis. And that means everyone getting a lower-specced model actually pledged back when the company thought that all Gemini PDAs would feature an X25 processor. So they’re kind of getting what they asked for.
But another way to look at that is that early supporter who backed the project before it was clear if it would make its goal are getting inferior hardware to the version than will ship to folks who waited longer before making a pledge. Needless to say, the comments page on the Gemini PDA Indiegogo campaign are filled with messages from disappointed backers at the moment.
It’s not unusual for companies to change the specs of a crowdfunded project. While Planet Computer had promised to switch to a more powerful processor, the company also made the following changes to the Gemini PDA specs before shipping:
- 5.7 inch, 2880 x 1440 pixel display promised / 5.99 inch, 2160 x 1080 pixel display delivered
- 8,000 mAh removable battery promised / 4,220 mAh battery delivered
- Android and Linux dual boot promised / Android shipped
That last one might not be entirely fair: the company is working on bringing support for multiple GNU/Linux distributions. But it’s still a work in progress and that means users will have to load the operating system of their choice rather than getting a mini computer that’s preconfigured to run Linux out of the box.
Users have also noted that the Gemini PDA was also supposed to ship with a compass feature, but while the sensor is there, Planet Computers says it’s been disabled because of interference from the magnets that keep the device closed.
All told, the Gemini PDA is still a pretty exciting device, because there’s really nothing else quite like it on the market today. The closest competitor is probably the GPD Pocket, which is a tiny laptop computer with a 7 inch display, an Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor, and Windows 10. But the GPD Pocket is a little bigger than the Gemini PDA, doesn’t make phone calls, and has a different keyboard layout.
I’m really curious to check out some reviews of the final product, once these reach customers. I want to know specifics about the keyboard quality of the final product. Early prototypes apparently had a really disappointing keyboard feel
I just got mine, the keyboard is terrible. It is practically unusable. I am struggling to type this on the PDA right now. I can tell they didn’t use any quality control. Many crooked keys, many sticky keys, and a couple that don’t spring back.
If it was a blackberry keyboard then it would have been ‘good’, however I was hoping for ‘great’!
As it stands I can’t even show it to anybody, it’s just shameful.
Hi Kevin, would you be able to post images or a video of the device. Preferably showing issues. I was about to purchase one of these but the timing of your review would indicate that the current production is not to standard. Many thanks.
I thought physical keyboards on phones were dead.
It’s a PDA, not necessarily a phone. And Blackberry wouldn’t agree with your statement either.
Would it really be a disappointment if that is the chip that you were told that you would get?
I think it is neat that one can load it with the operating system of ones choice. I am hoping that one day ReactOS will be able to load from an USB; either flash drive or optical drive. ArcaOS is now able to be loaded from a flash drive; it already had the option of loading it from the USB optical drive. It is similar to the IBM PC 110 computer in that one had a choice of operating systems to chose from.
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