The PineNote is a tablet with a 10.1 inch grayscale E Ink display and pen support. It’s designed to be a hackable, Linux-friendly device and it’s one of the latest products from the makers of the PinePhone and PineBook line of devices.

First introduced last summer, the PineNote began shipping to developers in limited quantities in December. Now it’s available for anyone to purchase for $399 – no invitation required. But it’s probably only a good idea to buy one if you’re a developer or very early adopter because there’s very little software available for the PineNote so far.

At this point, Pine64 is shipping the PineNote without an operating system installed. It will have only a bootloader, allowing developers and enthusiasts to load their own software. And since there aren’t really any pre-built disk images available, you may have to build an OS from scratch.

That said, developers have already made some progress in getting builds Alpine and Debian Linux to run on the E Ink slate, and according to Pine64, there are ports for NixOS and other operating systems on the way.

There’s already a partially working display driver, but it’s still a work in progress. The goal is to allow developers to port mainline Linux operating systems and applications to play well with a monochrome display with a slow refresh rate.

Developers have also figured out how to enable support PineNote’s touchscreen, audio playback, and USB port, making it possible to use USB keyboards, storage devices, and other peripherals. But at this point some hardware is still unsupported – no operating system works with the tablet’s microphone or Bluetooth radio yet.

Here’s a run-down of key specs for the PineNote:

PineNote Specs
Display10.1 inches
1404 x 1872
E Ink
Grayscale (16 shades)
Front-light (36 levels)
Adjustable color temperature
Capacitive multi-touch input
EMR pen digitizer
ProcessorRockchip RK3566
4 x ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores @ 1.8 GHz
ARM Mali-G52 2EE graphics
RAM4GB LPDDR4
Storage128GB eMMC
Audio1.3W stereo speakers
4 x microphones
WirelessWiFi 5
Bluetooth 5.0
PortsUSB 2.0 Type-C
SensorsGyro (for auto screen rotation)
Battery4,000 mAh Li-Po
ChargingUSB Type-C 15W (5V/3A)
Dimensions191.1 x 232.5 x 7.4mm
.52″ x 9.15″ x 0.29″
Weight438 grams
15.45 oz
Price$399

The tablet comes with an EMR pen, a protective cover, and a USB Type-A to Type-C adapter. But again, at this point it’s really intended for developers and enthusiasts comfortable using a device for which there isn’t yet any fully functional software, and which ships without an operating system pre-installed.

That said, the more developers who get their hands on one now, hopefully the sooner the PineNote will becomes a viable consumer-friendly device for folks who want an ePaper tablet capable of running free and open source software.

via Pine64 January 2022 Update

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3 Comments

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  1. Darn it, my Kobo Sage arrives tomorrow. If this news had come out last week, I think I’d be getting this instead as I really appreciate the Pine organization. Oh well. Now the pine tablet can mature a bit more before I hop on the train.

  2. I’ve said for a long time that an e-ink like this would make an ideal “textercise book” – far better than the iPads that some schools have adopted.

    Far too early yet, of course. But I am willing the PinePeople on with this.

  3. I have to admit, the progress on getting things to the screen has been faster than I was expecting.

    That said however, for this to work anywhere near like a “consumer device”, it seems to me that the entire graphics stack will need to be re-written from the ground up with the particular character of eink rendering in mind. And it will likely also require a custom shell to be written. We are still very, very far away from this being an alternative for a “normal e-reader”.