What the Pandora Got Right / Wrong

A few weeks ago, Binky, of the Open Pandora forums, started a topic I found interesting in many aspects. Its point was to find out what were the “right” aspects of the Pandora, as well as those which did not turn out to be as good as one can expect, the so-called “wrongs”. Since there were many interesting answers from other members, and since this is a testament to the openness of the Pandora Community in general, I thought it was worth reprinting here.

And no, please do not think I was just too lazy to post anything entirely original today. Let us not spread bad reputations about Pandoralive’s staff ­čÖé

What the Pandora got Right: 

  • Fits DS stylus and PSP charger – i.e. compatible with third-party products.
  • Removable, upgradeable storage (2 SD card slots).
  • Unit is repairable by a skilled user.
  • Huge, easily replaceable battery.
  • Indicator lights visible even when the lid is closed.
  • Good game controls.
  • Hacker-friendly software.
  • Near drop-in replacement to use better processor
  • Good resolution and bpp screen — 800×480 @ 32bpp is still a valid option today, and while it’s not OLED, it’s fairly decent quality-wise.
  • Hardware volume wheel for audio.
  • Great audio capabilities.
  • Full headset support (TRRS jack).
  • Internal microphone, not used often, but little surprises like DS emulation do come along.
  • Mains and USB charging (contingency for jack/port degradation/failure)
  • Boot from removable storage (SD), although USB should be added
  • Unified standardized software system. Not perfect, but .pnd is a great start, very convenient, both for the user and for the packager (genpxml and pnd_make scripts). Together with the repo, it is brilliant.
  • USB Host to extend the capabilities of the Pandora.
  • Firmware: in spite of some rough spots, it is stable and all the power saving features actually work.

What the Pandora got Wrong: 

  • Proprietary TV-out socket
  • No easy access to GPIOs
  • USB Host incompatible with USB 1.x
  • Mushy keyboard (debated)
  • Low quality/volume/bass internal speakers (debated)
  • Painted case easily damaged (cosmetically)
  • Poor case aesthetics – design is ugly and utilitarian
  • Though much improved, even the silver case has the screen bezel and battery lid problems.
  • Poor case┬ámanufacture
  • Slow internal wifi

My two cents on the wifi: the questionable quality of the internal wifi capabilities can be easily remedied with a 5-10 wifi usb stick to plug on the USB host when you need better performance. That is what I use everyday.

So there you have it. Since this is from Pandora customers and probably happy users, you shall not expect to see lots of wrongs there, but I appreciate the healthy criticism of the community members who are far from being FANBOYS. That is also precisely why I tend to involve with such people since conversations usually make a lot of sense and remain rational.

Overall, I do think the Pandora team did an awesome job getting so many things right, whether they were by design or accidental. For an amateur project, things turned out rather well (if we put to silence the manufacturing issues) and that probably explains why there is still ongoing interest for this little machine.

Here is the original thread on the forum, by the way.

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jeff mitchell

I keep thinking it’d be cool to track down DaveC and do a PM/email interview with him, abotu the pandora; he’s been ‘gone’ for a long time now, and its hard to know how up to date he is on any of the goins on in drama-land or software or the like.. but theres no denying he was a big part of the early days. The case is often overlooked… but its osmethign every single user interacts with. His job was done early on, true.. but it might be interesting to know his design process and how many revisions he… Read more »