Another New Owner Checking In...


Coder_TimT

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Just another recipient checking in. I thought I'd try to do a little video review, but pretty quickly realized I'm not a videographer, nor am I a narrator, nor do I actually have any video editing software currently installed. So you get a 1 take, out of focus, way too dark in the beginning video...but I'll still link to it at the end of the post.

Anyway, got mine last Friday. Took 9 days from receipt of the shipping email to reach me here in Arkansas via Airmail. Happened to be working from home so was available to sign for it. My serial ends in 370 I believe, not 100% sure so don't hold me to that, only had the battery out once. The build quality seems superb to my untrained eye. I have the slightly lifted lid corner when closed and the screen bezel gap, but neither of those really bother me in the least. I will fix the bezel if an easy fix method is established, but actually would probably have never noticed it if it hadn't been mentioned on the boards.

Hardware-wise those are the only real faults. All buttons work, it's easy to type on without too much effort needed on keypresses. Much easier to get used to typing on for me than my old Nokia N810. Game controls, sans shoulder buttons feel great. I haven't really used them that much yet, so can't give a good analysis, but they seem responsive and should work well. My shoulder buttons are decent...one is a little stiffer than the other but doesn't stick or anything so is still very usable and should loosen up. I think the lack of travel is what makes them feel a little weird. Haven't really tried them out in practice, so should reserve further comment until that time. The number keys aren't quite as easy to press as the others because they sit so near the top, but still function quite well. Nubs seem nice, still have yet to really try them out, but they're functional...

Now, on to the software. Minimenu does it's job well. Easy to use without dragging out the stylus. I think it needs a fullscreen window manager in place as the only purpose the current one serves is to maximize the window and then waste some space with the window decorations. Can't really go without the window manager because then alot of X apps don't size to the screen size well. I'll probably try hacking Ratpoisen or even tinywm in there and see what I get. I also personally think the need for a fullscreen window manager extends to the full desktop also. Obviously just a personal opinion, but I can't see the benefit of having multiple windows on a screen this small. I've always felt this way and using XFCE reinforced the feeling. It's quite usuable with the stylus, but there are still some quite small areas to try to "click". Yes, you can increase the size of some UI elements, but then you just end up wasting more screen real estate. I understand the rational and reasoning behind the teams decision to go with XFCE, but I look forward to other option becoming available. I spent a good part of Saturday attempting to get the latest e17 with illume config/theme running, but just ended up with a segfault. But I think until we get some kick-awesome custom UI with multitasking, etc, e17/illume is the path I would like to go down.

The only other thing I really played around with was web browsers and music players. Again, I disliked having to drag out the stylus for Midora/Aurora. I installed Chromium from the Angstrom repository before ED packaged it up, but ran into the same problem as everyone else of ssl not working. Tracked it down to needing some keys generated with the Mozilla NSS tools, but the ones in the repository were incomplete and complained about a missing lib. When it was all said and done I landed on Fennec. As long as I don't look at top and see how much memory it's wasting compared to Chrome I'm fine with it. I actually love the finger based UI.

As for music players, I already know what player I will use...I just haven't finished porting it yet. <_< I did get a first cut running on the machine that I've shown in the little video I made. Basically it's mpd along with my mpd client originally developed for the gp2x, ommpc. It runs fullscreen and mostly has nice large finger friendly buttons. Need to tweak the theme to increase the size of the list items to really use easily sans stylus. I also downloaded Exaile just to compare, but didn't do much with it after waiting the 10+ seconds for it to start up and playing a couple of songs and comparing cpu usage. Ends up being about the same while the ommpc UI is running, but detached with just mpd playing in the background it takes about 2/3 less cpu. Of course I didn't try minimizing Exaile, so it's probably closer when not rendering the UI...need to check that I guess... Also found out the fadd library included in the firmware isn't properly compiled for fixed point decoding. Something I discovered when compiling for the gp2x is that the configure script doesn't properly set this up and you have to manually edit a header. The non fixed point compile used 2-3x more cpu than the fixed point version...so I'll be distributing a copy with my ommpc package and file a bug report for the team.

Anyway, basic overall feeling is that I'm very happy I kept my order through the whole reorder process. Although it has some quirks, it's a lovely piece of hardware that I see myself spending alot of time with...

Not so great vid. It starts out really dark in the beginning, but get better....kind of. :)
 
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authoreyes

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Oh man, nicely done...love the media player...

It's funny, but I have to respectfully disagree with the stylus....I am the exact opposite...I hate the over reliance now-a-days on touch and prefer the stylus....but, I think we can agree on loving the fact that we can CHOOSE FOR OURSELVES given the limitless options the Pandora gives us :)
 

mali

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Nice video and great media player :)

Coder_TimT said:
I also personally think the need for a fullscreen window manager extends to the full desktop also. Obviously just a personal opinion, but I can't see the benefit of having multiple windows on a screen this small. I've always felt this way and using XFCE reinforced the feeling. It's quite usuable with the stylus, but there are still some quite small areas to try to "click". Yes, you can increase the size of some UI elements, but then you just end up wasting more screen real estate.
QFT
 
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philly

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:) Its ok ya know, we dont need a professional advert, we`re already sold!!! lol
Southern drawl excepted, and Im sold on your player too!
Ta very much ;)
 

Coder_TimT

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Thanks for the encouragement guys. Hopefully I'll get a pnd stitched together pretty soon. Still have a few things to get sorted before release...

  • MPD refused to accept my build of libFLAC even though it should have been the correct version.
  • Have to make some config file changes. The mpd config file wants absolute paths and since we're not guaranteed a device name on the sd cards, I have to dynamically generate this now...
  • The biggest thing is that I have to put in keyboard support. Keyboard works for hotkey binding, but on my other target platforms I've had to build a onscreen keyboard. Have to hack tha keyboard out and accept real keystoke to do things like search and name playlists/bookmarks...
  • Platform specific cpu freqency changes and whatnot.
  • Analog seeking via nubs.(This probably won't make first release)

Anyway, it's a fairly short list, just have to carve some free time to work on it.



authoreyes said:
...

It's funny, but I have to respectfully disagree with the stylus....I am the exact opposite...I hate the over reliance now-a-days on touch and prefer the stylus....but, I think we can agree on loving the fact that we can CHOOSE FOR OURSELVES given the limitless options the Pandora gives us :)

Definitely agree with the love of freedom of choice. And thinking back on my n810 experience, I really didn't mind using the stylus there too much. Just need to find an interface that suites me better...and as you said, I will have the option to do so.
 
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senorgomez

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Excellent post. I really liked the video review.

Kudos for helping out and porting over your media player. That is what makes this community great :D

And ALSA... I won't pretend to know much about the Linux audio mess, just that it is full of noodles or something:
linuxaudio.png
 

DaveC

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senorgomez said:
Excellent post. I really liked the video review.

Kudos for helping out and porting over your media player. That is what makes this community great :D

And ALSA... I won't pretend to know much about the Linux audio mess, just that it is full of noodles or something:
linuxaudio.png
WOW!

No wonder some emus have such skippy sound. With all of that crap to navigate I am surprised any of them run in real time.
 
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WizardStan

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DaveC said:
WOW!

No wonder some emus have such skippy sound. With all of that crap to navigate I am surprised any of them run in real time.
To be fair, a lot of those are inactive libraries most of the time, and many more are superfluous. If you took out all the unused libraries (programs don't use SDL and Allegro at the same time, do they?) and actually setup the system properly (PulseAudio does not simultaneously send to OSS and Alsa. In fact, with Alsa installed, there is no OSS, just a fake OSS that is really just an Alsa wrapper) it becomes a lot cleaner.
 
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bzar

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^ This. For a typical emulator you have something like: SDL -> ALSA -> (actual audio output device). Those are merely options, not some infernal maze every application has to navigate.
 

senorgomez

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IIRC the default ubuntu install includes pulseaudio, alsa, and oss drivers which any program can use. I don't know how the Pandora OS is setup, I don't have one myself :(
 

Trevsweb

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badass review :D hoping to do one for my pandora tho my review will be almost exactly the same.
 

WizardStan

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senorgomez said:
IIRC the default ubuntu install includes pulseaudio, alsa, and oss drivers which any program can use. I don't know how the Pandora OS is setup, I don't have one myself :(
When you install Alsa, you also install a fake "OSS" wrapper driver. It isn't actually OSS, it just acts like OSS for those programs that only know how to use OSS. It's still Alsa. Pulse isn't actually a driver either, it's extra stuff that sits on top of Alsa to give you more features.
To that end, as far as I know, the Pandora only has Alsa (and the OSS wrapper that comes with it).
 
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Coder_TimT

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Since some expressed interest in ommpc in this thread, I thought I'd dig it up to mention I've put an initial build up and created a thread in the beta test forum. And to add to the actual thread discussion, I will mention I have an mpd configuration in place that allows for dmix to work and multiple apps to use the sound card. Seems to take a bit more cpu, but probably worth it. Might make it an option for those who want the minimum cpu usage possible. Some programs such as Picodrive and the SNES emulator don't actually end up outputting sound...but they do play nicely while you listen to your own music... Anyway go to the following thread for more info...http://www.gp32x.de/board/index.php?/topic/54835-ommpc/page__p__883729__fromsearch__1&#entry883729
 
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