My Pyra review


adhrain

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Dec 29, 2020
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I received my Pyra with the second batch. After two weeks of daily
usage this is my review:

First of all, it is a gourgeous little gadget. Every single person
that has seen it (from Boomers to Zoomers) has said this: "Wow! That's
so beautiful! What is it?"

The (hard won) case is wonderful, the plastic is sturdy, the coating
feels amazing; mine has little to no imperfections.

The keyboard has a very good feeling and is pretty usable for fast
edits, the backlight is also extremely useful. Only thing I noticed,
the "Compose" key is mapped to be a "Menu key", I didn't bother to
remap it for three reasons:
1. All the common accented letter I need are already mapped to a key
2. For writing or unusual languages I use Emacs with its native
set-input-method
3. I hadn't time to ponder if I need to do an xmodmap for the Compose
Key or if it's more useful as a Menu Key
There is also a "Usr1/Usr2" key that is not bound to anything(?),
maybe I will bind that to Menu and Compose to compose. Can someone
confirm me that "Usr1/Usr2" is free?

I am not a gamer so I can't give a good review of the gaming controls,
but they feel better than my (sporadically used) Logitech generic game
controller. Let's say that my subpar Doom gaming has mysteriously
improved.

The screen looks like a retina display. The touch doesn't work edge
to edge, but that was very well known since the beginning of the
project.

I didn't try the microhdmi port. USB is even capable of giving power
to a 2.5" disk, and that's just great. USB (kernel handling) is also
the only thing that gave me a good scare: after removing a (semi bad)
disk the USB port was disabled, even removing the battery and
tampering with some system files didn't work. I was sure I bricked
the USB chip. Then I tried to remove the SD Card and everything just
started working again. Not a good evening.

The battery is huge, lasts a lot, but being big it is a bit tricky to
remove (sometime it's necessary to remove it to reset the machine).
To close the lid I found out that you need to put the battery ON the
lid, and then close the lid as if the battery were part of the lid.

Audio quality seems good and this little thing can be very loud.

I tried video with mplayer, mpv and vlc. Mplayer and mpv with the
default codec are fast, no visible frame dropping, BUT all the images
have a blue tint, people look like smurfs XD. Vlc is a bit slow with
some videos, but is fast with others. Changing options for mplayer
(vo=gl) and mpv (vo=sdl) removes the blue tint problem but gives the
sporadic sluggishness.

I installed my day-to-day editors. The terminal version of vim for
quick edits, works well, no problems. Graphical emacs has some weird
X11 issues (the frame is grey, can't see anything), I didn't bother to
find a solution, I just installed the emacs-nox version and I use it
from a fullscreen-no-menus Mate Terminal window in a dedicated
Workspace. I even installed all the sbcl-quicklisp-slime shebang, so
now, even if I am a very very very bad and noob lisper, I still have
the smallest (and probably fastest :-D) Lisp Machine ever created.
Feelsgoodman.jpg
I will probably end up creating a SD card with a full perl (my most
beloved language) toolchain (perlbrew, minicpan, Task::Kensho and so
on), but only in the future, maybe if I manage to put the whole home
in the SD, or if I will have enough time to find a way to configure
all the toolchain to work from an external filesystem.

I tried Firefox, it more or less works, sometimes it freezes or
crashes. Very heavy on the battery, I haven't tried it with online
videos or music, only quick searches and basic surfing. Lynx works
great tho XD.

I tried some games, prboom-plus from the debian repos works perfectly,
the very recent N64 emulator from the pyra dpb repo works (for what I
can understand, I only tried it with Super Mario), while some older
games from the dpb repo (Wolfenstein, Supertux) have a graphic issue:
they occupy only the bottom half of the screen, so the bottom half of
the game is invisible and the game cant't be played. Dosbox from the
dpb repo works, but the ":" key is not registered by the dosbox
console, so in order to bind my "C:" drive I had to put the mount line
in the config file; also I can't make it fullscreen. Wolfenstein in
dosbox works, Prince of Persia doesn't. I tried only those two.
Dosbox-staging doesn't start. I didn't have time to find why.

I know someone is already working on the graphics front, so that will
probably solve a lot of the small hiccups. I think that an easy way
to reconfigure buttons and keys and a more thourough wiki/manual/user
guide will be a huge help to the normal user.

TL;DR The hardware is essentially perfect, the device looks and feels
premium tier. The software is obviously immature in some aspects, but
the machine is usable for a lot of things (I think 70-80% of my use
cases are satisfied and the Pocket Lisp Machine aspect is the sweetest
thing ever). I silently followed this project since its inception,
the result is well beyond what I expected. I wish to thank ED and all
the active contributors, you did an excellent job.

PER ASPERA AD ASTRA
 

TrashyMG

Sarcasm Dispenser
Staff member
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Messages
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For the dosbox keymap issue, I believe shift + ; will give the : . I'm at work so don't have it with me, it's some modifier plus the semi-colon for sure.
 

Silent-Hunter

Hardcore Member
Joined
May 29, 2010
Messages
3,474
For the dosbox keymap issue, I believe shift + ; will give the : . I'm at work so don't have it with me, it's some modifier plus the semi-colon for sure.
That's right!
Post automatically merged:

I installed my day-to-day editors. The terminal version of vim for quick edits, works well, no problems. Graphical emacs has some weird X11 issues (the frame is grey, can't see anything), I didn't bother to find a solution, I just installed the emacs-nox version and I use it from a fullscreen-no-menus Mate Terminal window in a dedicated Workspace.
You can fix the XFT font issue (invisible fonts) by editing /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-pyra-driver.conf and changing "SoftEXA" from "FALSE" to "TRUE". You do lose some things though, such as the ability to use vo=xv in mplayer, and I think stuff like Drastic won't be hardware accelerated anymore.
 

adhrain

Still Fresh
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Dec 29, 2020
Messages
18
That's right!
Post automatically merged:


You can fix the XFT font issue (invisible fonts) by editing /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-pyra-driver.conf and changing "SoftEXA" from "FALSE" to "TRUE". You do lose some things though, such as the ability to use vo=xv in mplayer, and I think stuff like Drastic won't be hardware accelerated anymore.
I’ll try this. Thanks
 

matzesu

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Thankgs for the Kind Review, and its interessting that you dotnt use it that much for gaming, but for day to day work use..
I used my Pandora more for Gaming than for aktuall Work PC Tasks, but this had changed a bit, i remember that i played a lot at waiting times whit the Pandora, a bit Tetris at Hear Cutter, a bit Traumacenter / Dr. Mario on the Waiting Room from the Doc, and other things, but now i also have a E-Book Reader in my Pockets..
I want to use my Pyra more for Working Tasks, but also for Games..
The FN Key is also on the left upper Shoulderbutton..
 

Binky

Death's Steed
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Thanks for the review! It makes the device seem more real, and I'm very glad to hear most of the rough spots are in software. We can fix those!

I'll be interested to hear how the keyboard is after you've used it for a while. Does it wear-in? (or wear-out?) Does your opinion of the layout change?
 

matzesu

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I wonder, what is "Lisp" ? I only know "Lispeln" which is means "Speaking whit a burned thung", when you trunk something that was too hot ^^
 

JDTAY

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I wonder, what is "Lisp" ? I only know "Lispeln" which is means "Speaking whit a burned thung", when you trunk something that was too hot ^^
In English, we do have a word called "lisp", a condition where you have trouble pronouncing the 's' sound, and it comes out as 'th'.

No idea why the programming language is called that.
 

adhrain

Still Fresh
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Dec 29, 2020
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adhrain

Still Fresh
Joined
Dec 29, 2020
Messages
18
In English, we do have a word called "lisp", a condition where you have trouble pronouncing the 's' sound, and it comes out as 'th'.

No idea why the programming language is called that.
LISt Processing just like Fortran is from FORmula TRANslation and COmmon Business Oriented Language gave us Cobol. Surely every english speaker has thought of a pun the first time he had heard the name.
 
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