Pandora open source UMPC/console reaches production milestone


In development for what seems like an eternity, the Pandora open source pocket computer/handheld games console first emerged in 2007. Having a page in the product database and being discussed by readers in the Pocketables Forum, the Pandora is developed by OpenPandora, a group of distributors, developers and community members of the GP32 and GP2X handheld gaming consoles originally made by South Korea's GamePark Holdings. Very much an enthusiast and community driven project without corporate involvement, it was originally intended to be "the ultimate open source handheld device" with an emphasis on gaming.

If you're not familiar with the device, here's a quick rundown of the basics:

The Pandora is capable of running a full Linux desktop (using a customized version of Ångström Linux), browsing the internet using Firefox, acting as a PMP, and of course playing a variety of games including those for Dreamcast, PlayStation, and Super NES emulators.


The Pandora has a very unique arrangement starting with a basic clamshell design like a small UMPC. But once open, the radical control layout is revealed with a three-row QWERTY keyboard occupying the bottom half of the base and a full complement of gaming controls taking residence in the top portion, including a D-pad, dual analog sticks, and a set of four face buttons. Think of it as a PlayStation controller transferred onto a UMPC! A row of number keys and the backspace key retain their usual positions at the very top of the base unit.

Specifications of the 11.82-ounce Pandora are impressive starting with a 4.3-inch WVGA resistive touch screen, a TI OMAP3530 (ARM Cortex A8 core) processor at 600MHz, PowerVR SGX 530 3D graphics chip, 256MB RAM, 512MB of local NAND flash storage, b/g WiFi, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, dual SDHC slots supporting up to 64GB, TV-output (composite and S-video), headphone out and audio line-in/outputs, USB 2.0 OTG and host ports, and 4000 mAh li-polymer battery.

Those who have been following it will be happy to know that the Pandora has just reached a significant production milestone with the completion of the first manufacturing test unit using the final components that all future units will be produced from. Although there will be further tweaks and refinements of the device with continued testing, this test unit is considered to be the first unit off the production line and the likely beginning of the first batch of 4,000 units. The expected MSRP is $330 with most of the first batch already sold, but a few are still available if you email [email protected].

I am intrigued by this device as a gadget enthusiast and a gamer but most of all, I'm amazed by what a passionate community have achieved so far, much like the previous story regarding the modified Sony VAIO UX. I highly recommend a visit to the OpenPandora website for anyone  interested in this unique device. Also check out the video below showing the first manufacturing test unit being booted up into Linux. Is anyone here one of the lucky few who have ordered a unit of the initial batch?

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Jeremy To

Jeremy is a former editor at Pocketables.

Avatar of Jeremy To

9 thoughts on “Pandora open source UMPC/console reaches production milestone

  • I hope to get mine in Jan or Feb next year! =)

  • Avatar of ArchiMark

    I was in on the pre-order about a year ago, but I bailed out after paying and then being told that they had probs with their bank and I had to redo my pre-order payment, then being told a while after that they had probs again with bank and I would have to do pre-order payment a third time….decided that between all that hassle plus the perpetual production delays, it just wasn’t worth it for me….

    But nice to see that over a year later, they’re just making some units…

  • Avatar of the VARG

    beautiful machine,however;2 things I feel are missing.1.could’ve have hurted too put a swivel CAMERA in the top front of the screen? 2.not that big of a deal,but if I,m walking and listening 2 music,it would be a bit too inconvenient,to open and close the CLAM baked design that went into making this thing,just a side thought!

  • Avatar of MiKeN

    You may have bailed Archimark but I ordered still. I definitely hope to be one of the first to get it as I ordered one right when they started accepting preorders the third payment round. Can’t wait…

  • Avatar of James Pond

    I’m one of those people who pre-ordered and took all the hassle to keep that pre-order.

    I have no idea where I am in the pre-order list…

    This morning I was thinking about the Pandora, telling to myself how cool it would be to have my Pandora at Christmas! Then I realized that we are only two weeks before Christmas. So I guess that like “10” said, let’s hope for Jan or Feb next year!

    (if I have my Pandora at Christmas I will be sooooo happy!!!)

  • Avatar of ArchiMark

    Well, you’re more patient/tolerant than I, MiKeN…..

    Let us know how the Pandora is when you get yours…..

  • Avatar of relliker

    I pre-ordered within a couple of hours the “final” pre-order announcement email came out. It can take as long as it needs to. Mweston wants the device to be perfect so is asking for some final tweaks with the case. I’m fine with that and so are most others who have pre-ordered and/or persevered with their old orders. While I do not like losing money I think the project deserved the faith required to take the plunge. Have you seen the latest pics of the first 5 “finished” Pandoras? Was worth all the money I paid :)

  • Avatar of icurafu

    I preordered before it was announced on the forums. I would have been in the first 10, but I bailed. And lost a bit in currency conversions.

    By the time it is released it won’t be so exciting. I’ll wait until the software is sound and hopefully a price drop.

    I’m not really so excited about giving my money again to the people who would use preorders to fund the development of a product by misleading people to think that it was only a couple of months away. That would probably be the reason why they had banking problems. Try explaing that business plan to a banker.

  • Avatar of Mark

    Well I pre-ordered on the pre-order release date. Here’s hoping I get it soon!

    @theVarg – when listening to music, I’m sure one of the developers will sort out the music software to use the shoulder buttons for specific functions so you don’t need to open the pandora, and can leave it in your pocket/whatever


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