I Purchased a Pinebook Pro
I recently pre-purchased a Pinebook Pro; An ARM based, 14" laptop being sold by Pine64 (Pine Microsystems, Inc.) for the low price of $199 USD. This is the second such device released in this form factor by Pine64 who originally became known for their single-board computers which compete with the likes of the Raspberry Pi. The first laptop they produced was the Pinebook which came out in 2017 for only $89 USD in its original form and $99 USD in its current, upgraded form. The original Pinebooks were more of a tinkerer’s laptop and never meant to be a daily driver, but the upgraded specs of this incarnation put it squarely in the ring with mainstream chromebooks and the ilk.
Pinebook Pro Specs
- CPU: Rockchip RK3399
- Dual-Core ARM 1.8GHz Cortex A72
- Quad-Core ARM 1.4GHz Cortex A53
- GPU: Quad-Core MALI T-860
- RAM: 4 GB LPDDR4 (Dual Channel)
- 64 GB eMMC 5.0
- (Optional) nVME Adapter
- Wireless Connectivity:
- WiFi 802.11AC
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Wired Connectivity:
- 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A
- 1 x USB 2.0 Type-A
- 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (Charging/Display Capable)
- 1 x MicroSD Card Slot
- 1 x Headphone Jack
- Display: 14.1″ 1080p IPS Panel
- Full-Size Keyboard
- Multi-Touch Touchpad
- Built-in Microphone
- Battery: Lithium Polymer (10000mAH)
- Camera: 2.0 Megapixels Front-Facing
- Case: Magnesium-Alloy Shell
- Dimensions: 329mm x 220mm x 12mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: 2.78 lbs (1.26 kg)
For a $200 USD device the Pinebook Pro actually has some decent specs (and yes, I am aware you can get some good laptops used in the same price range which would be more powerful). The sale page does warn of a small amount of dead pixels (1-3) being acceptable on these devices, and LCDs in general, but from what I can tell of the first batches sent out to forum members and first few rounds of pre-orders it has not really been an issue.
Neat, But Why?
By all accounts, I have a great laptop already in my bag. Its got an i7-8750H, 16GB ram, a GTX 1050ti, 144hz 1080p panel and all the IO you could reasonably need on the go. Except for the fact that I rarely game on it now, all that power means less battery life, and between the power brick and the laptop I am carrying somewhere just under 7lbs! When you add in the fact that I carry work devices, my keyboard, and other essentials in my bag it adds up to a lot of weight and potential back pain.
I started to evaluate what I need in my daily carry laptop and it came down to a few simple tasks: browsing the web, checking email, monitoring slack/discord/other, watching YouTube, light programming and open source work, writing this blog, and managing my homelab. All of these activities do not require all that much umph from the device. The price is right, the screen is good, the battery is great, the community is growing, and the hardware itself is Open Source which means I can hack on it to help it fit a future, unknown use-case if needed (time, budget, and ability permitting). All else fails, I can always grab my other bohemoth of a laptop, remote into my desktop, or remote into my homelab servers to give me that little bit extra.
I wait for shipping… I am in a pre-purchase group which should ship out in December of this year, but I am fully aware there could be delays as the first few shipments have seen. I am at least fortunate that I am not depending on this device being delivered immediately since i still have that much more powerful (and heavier) laptop I can carry till it arrives.
Beyond this post I hope to have a more in-depth review when it arrives and after a bit of use. If you are interested in the laptop and whats happening with the ecosystem (good and bad), checkout the Pinebook Pro section of the Pine64 Forums.