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Linux-friendly e-ink PineNote tablet takes a step forward

The PineNote e-ink tablet is available for purchase now for Linux developers who understand embedded systems development.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

The Linux-friendly PineNote 10.1-inch e-ink display tablet is now available to pre-order for $399, but it's for serious Linux enthusiasts or seasoned embedded systems developers.

The PineNote is the latest hardware from Pine64, which also recently opened pre-orders of the $399 PinePhone Pro Explorer Edition as a Linux alternative on par with a mid-range Android phone.

Via Liliputing, the PineNote began shipping in limited quantities to developers in December but it's now more widely available for $399. It's still aimed at developers, but now buyers don't need an invitation to buy one. 

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As with the PinePhone Pro, this grayscale display tablet is aimed at developers because there aren't many software options available for either of them yet and the tablet still lacks key drivers for hardware features.    

"Much progress has been made over the past month toward getting Linux up and running on the PineNote. During December, most developers received their PineNote units, and began familiarizing themselves with the device, getting their favorite Linux distribution to run alongside the Android factory test image. Folks are running Alpine and Debian in various configurations, with a NixOS port in progress, and more distributions are on the way," Pine64 noted.

As such, Pine64 admits the PineNote table is an "experimental device" and stresses its software is still in its infancy. Also, there is no default OS for the PineNote. Hence, it's for Linux developers who are familiar with embedded systems and mobile Linux, such as its existing community of developer fans who build on its Rockchip-based single board computers.  

The PineNote is powered by a Rockchip RK3566, a quad-core ARM Cortex A55 64-bit system on chip, and Mali GPU that it uses in many of its single board computers. It's backed by 128GB eMMC storage and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM. 

The 16-level grayscale touch display has a resolution of 1404 x 1872 pixels and works with a Wacom stylus. It also features a speaker and four microphones, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0, and a USB2.0 Type C port. The 4,000 mAh battery is sold separately. 

With these features, Pine64 bills it as a portable multitasking device that will, once the right software arrives, be capable of taking notes, writing and reading documents, reading books, browsing the internet, and terminal usage.   

Currently, the device ships without an operating system but does have a bootloader, giving developers enough to write and load their own software for it and possibly build their own OS for it.   

Pine64 is aiming to let developers port existing Linux operating systems and apps that work well with the monochrome display and its slow refresh rate.  

As Liliputing notes, fans have built support for the PineNote's touchscreen, audio playback, and USB port to allow other USB peripherals to be connected. It's currently lacking support for the mics and Bluetooth radio. Ongoing efforts to develop hardware and software for the PineNote are being updated on the wiki page for the device

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PineNote 10.1-inch e-ink display tablet.

Image: Pine64

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