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Have an old smartphone lying around that you’re not using as a phone anymore? One hardware hacker decided to turn theirs into a mini-laptop.

Prend Workbench shared the project in a YouTube video that shows the end result, as well as some of the build process. In a nutshell, adding a keyboard, touchpad, USB hub, 3D printed case, and some other odds and ends turns an 8-year old phone into a tiny laptop. And replacing Android with the Linux-based postmarketOS allows it to run up-to-date software.

The phone that was sacrificed for this build is a Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime, which is a 2015 smartphone with a 4.6 inch, 1280 x 720 pixel IPS LCD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage.

While the phone only had a 2,200 mAh battery, there’s more room in the mini-laptop, so once you know the power requirements it’s possible to add a connect a larger battery to the BSI board: modified version has a 4,000 mAh battery.

Connecting a USB hub to the phone’s single USB Type-C port makes it possible to add three USB 3.0 Type-A ports. And there’s still a USB-C connector for charging in the finished build thanks to a separate TP4056 charger module.

The keyboard and touchpad are courtesy of a modified Rii X1 Bluetooth mini keyboard, and there’s even a physical power switch in the side of the case to physically power the device on and off.

While the keyboard is designed more for thumb typing than touch typing, the video shows that it is possible to place the mini laptop on a flat surface and use it like a very, very small notebook computer for web browsing and other activities… as long as you’re comfortable with two-finger typing.

via LinMOB



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  1. brutally honest — kids in African dont even want this dated crap. if companies getting rich selling it but cant pay for recycling + ends up in landfill , then those companies should be retroactively forced to pay for recycling, rather than arm twisting to be “goody two shoes”. Old broken shoes get recycled, old e-waste crap can too.

        1. The Steam Deck is not at all like a mini-laptop. It doesn’t have any of the interface hardware that makes those small laptops so nice for those of us who like them, and it’s not as portable as they are either. The screen is much smaller, but by adding large game controllers on either side, it’s large in a different way. The demand for the Steam Deck indicates that people like portable game systems, which people already knew (there are a lot more companies making game systems than mini-laptops). Its success does nothing to prove that people will buy something that doesn’t have any game controllers and does have a keyboard, like the device shown in this article.

        2. Dream Deck is a gaming-PC console. It isn’t pocket size and it doesn’t have keyboard. It is not like a pocket PC: no keyboard and no pocket size.

          It isn’t like a ultraportable subnotebook like Sony Vaio P series were: no standard keyboard, no keyboard at all. It is a PC compatible gaming console.

      1. You can’t really say “low sales” when there hasn’t been any modern attempt with contemporary hardware that’s now actually capable of producing a “full-size” experience in a small form factor, outside of some Chinese boutiques like GPD and OneNetbook (both of which persist in making small 10″ full-featured laptops despite their small organizational size and limited resources). There’s clearly a market, even with all the caveats that come with buying from companies like that.

        Check out the GPD Win Max 2. A new revision with an AMD 7840U and up to 64GB of 7500Mt/s RAM was just released.

        1. Why Sony pulled out Vaio P Series? If that series were a big sales hit they would continue launching next generations, but they didint’t.

          Sony P series is a very special line: you get a standard size keyboard (or near standard) and that makes computer size, resulting in a very wide form factor for case and screen. I think it is very interesting in contrast with other form factors that while not being pocket size, compromise keyboard size, for example like GPD Win Max 2 you mentioned (10,1 inches display and very small keyboard with keys withot separation between them, horrible keyboard).

          If you know, Sony sold its Vaio computer division. It had losses or not enough profit. «On 4 February 2014, Sony announced that it would sell its VAIO PC business due to POOR SALES» (https://www.engadget.com/2014-02-06-sony-sells-vaio.html). If entire Vaio had poor sales, imagine P Series, being a niche inside Vaio (when P Series existed; last P series were from 2011?).

  2. I own a feew Rii keyboards with similar size, even one of them with better hard plastic keys (instead of soft plastic).

    My experience with those keyboards: it is better no having keyboard than having one of those bad keyboards.

    It is worse having a small bad keyboard than no having keyboard at all, sincerely.

    Making a good small keyboard is not an easy task. I own a lot of pocket computers (most of them real pocket size), and some smartphones with keyboard, and some have good keyboard (for example old Sharp Zaurus SL-Cxx00) but other doesn’t. And having a small bad keyboard is horrible.

    1. Agreed, those Rii keyboard/mouse combos suck for anything Linux based, they are basically only good as a remote control for a HTPC.

      For a project like this, the repurposed Blackberry keyboard from several posts back would be better, though at that point why not just get a Blackberry Passport on eBay and root it?

        1. Yeah it’s been a minute since I looked at anything Blackberry, I forgot the Passport is BB10 not Android. You’d need a KeyOne, and you can run a chrooted Linux userland on a rooted Android device, it uses the Android kernel but the rest is basically a Linux distro.

          1. I have a proot on my keyboard phone. It works but it’s not great. Certainly not as nice as bare metal