The PengPod Linux Tablet Is Becoming A Reality
The PengPod tablet, which allows for dual-booting Google's Android and Ubuntu/Linaro on an ARM-based tablet, is becoming a reality after it was successfully crowd-funded.
While the PengPod calls itself the "true Linux tablet" and it's interesting that it will support both Android and Ubuntu/Linaro, it isn't too interesting from just a end-user who just wants a compelling Linux tablet. The PengPod isn't shipping until early next year and the hardware inside is already dated by the latest-generation Android/Linux tablets on the market.
The PengPod tablets (there are 7 and 10-inch models) and the PengPod stick are based around an Allwinner A10 SoC. The Chinese SoC has a 1.2GHz single-core Cortex-A8 ARM core, ARM Mali 400 graphics, 1GB of DDR3 memory. and USB 2.0 connectivity. This is compared to the latest-generation ARM SoCs being multi-core Cortex-A9s or even the very new goods (such as the Samsung Chromebook) using the high-performance Cortex-A15s.
Using the older ARM technology isn't also reflected by a lower price. The 7-inch PengPod is set to retail for $110 USD while the 10-inch model will be $160. With the single-core Cortex-A8 on the is just 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, a 1.3 Megapixel camera, and either a 800 x 480 or 1024 x 600 display. The Google Nexus 7 meanwhile -- which runs with Android by default but has already been shown to work with Ubuntu -- retails for $199 USD while packing a NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core Cortex-A9 (plus its fifth known companion core), 1280 x 800 HD IPS display and 16 or 32GB of storage.
As discussed on Twitter, the stated reasoning for going with the dated hardware is "its got source and an active developer community." The PengPod is also advertised as "This system is open source top to bottom and almost feature equivalent with Android on the same hardware." Allwinner has met their GPL obligations in terms of providing the kernel sources, but it's not actually fully open-source from top to bottom.
The A10 has the Mali 400 graphics core, which still lacks a working open-source user-space for end-users with OpenGL ES acceleration. There's the well-known Lima driver but that isn't yet in a condition for use by actual consumers so anyone actually wanting accelerated graphics are still bound to Mali's binary blob.
From the successful crowd-funding on IndieGoGo, some of the funds will be used to improve the Chinese tablet's Linux support. Among the features being tackled are automatic screen rotation based upon the G-Sensor, hardware support button, and providing Video4Linux support for the on-board camera.
For those wanting to learn more about this Linux tablet, visit PengPod.com.
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