Back in August 2017, I had a (secret!?) meeting with PtitSeb who brought his Pyra prototype for me to check it out. Since I had not relaunched GiantPockets at the time, this article was a little delayed. As the Pyra is still not out in March 2018, it may still be worth sharing what I thought about it then. Why should you care? Well, I have used the Pandora(s) extensively for many years (from 2012 with the Rebirth and afterwards with the 1Ghz Model) so that makes me well aware of what worked and did not work with the Pandora, to evaluate the Pyra prototype on.
So here is 2018. It’s a kind of middle ground for Linux handhelds. After all, the concept of Linux handhelds preceded the advent of smartphones and since then there is probably less of a need for the general public – iOS and Android already seem to answer the needs of most users so far. In fact, it has clearly become a niche market, with only smaller companies operating in it. But the good news is, there are several efforts underway to get there, in several directions. There are several categories we can split them in. Note that in this article we will remain at relatively high level (and refrain from comparing every single spec under the radar) as this is meant to be an overview.
As we are soon jumping in the 4th quarter of 2015, things are getting progressively in place for the Dragonbox Pyra, with full prototypes to be assembled within November. The remaining elements are now being produced: the keymat, following its layout finalization, is now in production and samples of the real thing will be available by Mid-October. Once received we will see how it works hands-on, and if keys are lighted up as expected via the backlights.
As Evil Dragon (the leader of the Pyra handheld project) mentioned before, the case is more or less finished, and last week there was a final poll as well to decide the layout of the keyboard. While the layout will be tweaked further, those renders are pretty close to what the Pyra is supposed to look like later this year. [ Note, this article was updated again on July 30th with new content. ]
At least for the Pandora. The project started by one of the community member in the course of last year, after the Pandora CAD designs were released to the public, did not come to fruition. An announcement earlier today put an end to a project that did not show much movement at all since it was announced.
The successor of the Open Pandora is on its way to be complete and hopefully ready to preorder within 2015. Michael (aka Evil Dragon in the community) has just released a new video showcasing the current status of the design, and as expected many elements are now complete or very close to be.
Ola. Hold your horses, Sir. I know this survey was conducted in October and I see your gun pointed at me, asking me why it took so long to deliver the results. Well, analysis is one of the stuff that requires time and skills. And the more data you get, the more time it takes to go through to make good value of it, and look at segmentation and stuff like that (and you are never really over with it). Hopefully by reading this article you will understand why it took a while.
It’s mostly all about the Pandora around here these days, but today let me give you some updates about her little sister the Pyra. There’s been some good progress recently on that front and we can foresee a late 2015 release window…
For a long time, most developers could not make good use of DSP comprised in the OMAP architecture of the Pandora SoC. Sure, there was TI’s dispbridge driver in the Pandora firmware for a long time, and a few developers like MH-T or Hdonk tried to make use of it – but the key issue was always linked with the latency to call the DSP or high CPU usage. Then BSP came with his deep knowledge of the architecture, and was able to package a kernel driver, a DSP component and an ARM library to make better use of it. Unfortunately, while the DSP can certainly help to relieve your CPU of certain tasks , it requires to re-factor your code and separate it into parallel processes to be used in concurrence with the main program thread. With the exception of a few demos by BSP, MH-T and Hdonk, no one had yet fully completed that kind of work. Notaz’s latest PCSXReARMed build now makes full use of that architecture.
You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, following the release of the case data for the Pandora, one community member mentioned he would make Aluminum cases for the Pandora in case there’s enough demand for it. At least 100 units. Well, today Evil Dragon announced that he pushed the button to make them happen.