Pyra in the wild - the real life experience


Forum Addict!
Sep 28, 2011
Ok, I'll waste some time to report my Pyra experiences for you.
And to feel important with hopefully lots of likes and responses :p

University has started again and my holidays ended. I've been playing around with the Pyra a little but because of a bad keymat not as much as I've planned to do.

But now the interesting part begins: The first Pyra out in the wild in a real life scenario :p
Finally I will replace the Pandora and my oversized gaming Laptop and use the Pyra as my only device at University.

As some of you may know I've already done a Psychology Bachelor study mainly with my Pandora.

So what are my conclusions and reports after the first day:

Here is what I already tested

Works well, but the internal wifi is bad, so it will be better in the future I suppose. Anyways, it's a lot better than on the Pandora. And it feels great to simply copy the Firefox folder from my Laptop on the SD-Card and get the exact same feeling. I'm using some blocking add-ons and have some things to load (not hardcore level thou).
It runs and loads ok. Lighter browsers will be really fast I suppose and having it on the internal storage will also speed it up.

Same as FireFox. It simply works as on my Laptop. Everything fits nicely on the screen.
I could copy my Laptop settings and it's the same as on my big machine.

Starts really fast. As fast as on my Laptop.
Looks nice and everything fits on the screen.
Not used much more than for a quick test.

This is the PDF annotation software I've used for my Psychology studies for years now.
Not much difference as it already run well on the Pandora.
It's bigger and smoother. Pages load faster.
As an extra as I'm now using the MATE desktop instead of XFCE the dark theme does not make the text entry fields black and doesn't block the sight any more.
So it works perfect

As I now study Computer Science I will test some heavier IDEs later.
Anyways, I like Geany a lot and it also works well on the Pyra.
The screen is big enough to display 30-40 lines of code at once. My 17'' full HD Laptop currently displays 45 lines.
So it's good and a lot better than on the Pandora.

WhatsApp Desktop
That might have been unexpected but as WhatsApp Desktop is in the Debian Repo I tried it.
It works.
I used it once during my first lecture to send and receive one message.

Telegram Desktop
I needed to add the Debian Backports Repo and then it installed without any issues and works fine out of the box.

The Desktop version is only x64 Linux.
But there is a web app of the full version.
I could log in with Firefox and it is responsive.
Loading takes a while.
I will use it this Semester in class. More information will come.

MATE desktop
As I mentioned I now tried MATE despite of being a XFCE user since my first Pandora days and was convinced that it's the best desktop environment ever.
I need to say, MATE is better. Solely because it supports an integrated dark theme without any drawbacks. I like it a lot.
After deleting the top bar and adjusting the panel similar to my XFCE Panel there's not much difference.
I now use a fast SD-Card and everything feels responsive.

Syncthing is in the Pyra Debian repo and can be installed easily.
It works out of the box and I could set it up on my Laptop and Pyra in a short time.
I had no experience with the program. It was really simply.

There is one bug on the ARM build I came across. I had to set the maximal upload and download to any number instead of the default unlimited (0).
Else the devices did disconnect after some time.

The syncthing-gtk package was not in the Debian ARM repo but only in the Arch Repo.
However there is an official armhf deb file available to download (Link).
After installing the dependencies it works flawlessly so far.

All in all I need to say it's as easy as it can be.
It works on the same network and when both devices are on a different one.

I installed Zotero on my Laptop and on my Pyra.
It's a nice tool for citation and manage a bibliography.
It has a Firefox extension and a LibreOffice extension.
Both did install automatically on the Pyra and my Laptop.

The Pyra could import the Library and edit the .fodt file I created on my Laptop.

It's a useful tool it seems.
The Firefox extension adds a Website with one click to the library with access date and extracts the author.
The LibreOffice extension allows to choose a citation style and adds. It can make a bibliography out of Zotero's library and add a reference to the text.
Everything is created automatically.

It seems to be pretty useful and to work well. Much better than the integrated one in LibreOffice.

Installation was simple as usual. Search "Zotero" in synaptic and install the standalone App and the LibreOffice extension.
When Zotero is open and I start Firefox it asks me if I want to install the extension.
Both did work well on the Pyra.


Build Quality
Better not talk about it. My case broke and I have the second one already.
The screen is not held in place and the logo is missing.
Well, it's a prototype with cheap plastic ;)

Now the good things:


The resolution is great, it looks as if it was my big Laptop but only smaller. No giant buttons, nothing looks out of place or squeezed in.
It's glossy and I don't like that but it's not possible to have it mate.
Didn't use the touchscreen much as the Nubs are great.
The background lightning can be a lot darker than on the Pandora what is a good thing as it is eye friendly at night.
And it can be really bright.

I've used it in the bus during sunlight and it was OK to use.
Under direct sunlight I don't see anything. But it's the same on the Pandora and on my much brighter high end Smartphone (Blackberry Priv).

The shoulderbuttons don't fit perfectly but 3 out of 4 do work flawlessly. So that's a great start. And they are not as oud as some Pandora shoulderbuttons are.
My Stylus doesn't hold in place properly and I can't find it at the moment (well I didn't look for it and I miaybe lost it during the case replacement at the Office)
The size feels great and the Pandora suddenly feels too thin :p.
The Battery fits perfectly in place.

Either I have bad luck or that part is pretty broken.
Typing and positioning of the fingers feels good and having a "tab", "esc" and "delete" Key is fantastic.
Simply the buttons don't react well on mine no matter what revision of the Keymat I'm using. I've cleaned it a week ago and it's already getting worse again.
It's likely that it's a faulty main PCB.
Also a fault of the main PCB is that some buttons simply get stuck and are pressed forever until I press them again. SELECT and "." for example often hang. That needs to be fixed as that happens often for me.

An other thing is the Keymat revision. The older one with black paint is a lot better than the new one without.
The new one simply is too light, too clicky and has that shiny glowing rim around the keys.
It feels great on the dummy but under real typing conditions the older one is a lot better.
The new one has a better D-Pad and better gaming buttons, so a combination is the best solution: Gaming Buttons without paint and Keyboard with paint.

The backlight is a great addition.

They feel good and work great. Nothing else to say.

Mine currently runs at 1.5 GHz.
The Desktop is perfectly responsive.
LibreOffice starts as fast (or faster) as on my Laptop. Firefoy is a little slower but.
Those small programs that compile and run instantly on my Laptop take some seconds to start on the Pyra.
Sometime it feels laggy. For example searching in the Synaptics package manager takes long. Maybe it'll be better when using the internal storage.
Thanks to the bad Wifi connection I could "only" test 720p YouTube. It without any issues.
I won't mention especially Wifi as it currently is capped to about 260 kb/s. As EvilDragon mentioned in the newspost we will get a great new Antenna and chip and it will be a great experience.

Battery life:
It's already pretty good I think. I was connected to Wifi, had USB on, Frefox open, Xournal open and WhatsApp Desktop running. Keyboard backlight was turned off and the Screen at the second brightness level.
I did not do much as it was during the lecture. I downloaded some required files and opened the PDF.
The battery indicator told me I it will last about 7-8 hours.
Today I turned off USB and Networking and I got about 10-11 hours idle.
I expected less from an unoptimized Prototype, about 5-6 hours. So I'm surprised and like it a lot. My Gaming Laptop lasts 3 hours under best conditions...
Charging is very slow at the moment.
My Phone has a 3300 mAh Battery and charges within 1 - 1.5 hours completely using Qualcom Quickcharge 2. The Pyra takes much longer to charge. We need to unlock the USB port to get advantage of 2.5 or 3 amapre chagers.

Even after repairing and building (maybe a lot) more than 1000 Pandoras I was still afraid to change the case when I saw the first cracks.
It was new to me. I was unfamiliar with the Pyra and had bad experiences with the early prototypes. Those were a pain to build, especially the LCD cable.
And of course it's one of the special Prototypes. I didn't want to risk to damage it. It might sell at a high price on ebay at some time :p
Yesterday I was forced to chance the case as the hinge completely broke.

It was one of the best experiences, if not the best experience I had with the Pyra so far.
It was so easy. I can't describe how easy it was. It's so much better than the Pandora.
I could easily open it up and that's it. No brute force required to get the lid open (some Pandoras are really hard to open). No buttons and small parts to put in afterwards.
The LCD-Cable feels so undestructable despite of being so tiny.
I felt special because I could build a Pandora and because I can fix 90% of all hardware bugs.
I think I will never feel special to be able to assemble a Pyra. It's so easy.

After one year studying with my Laptop and barely using the Pandora for much more than a music payer and after 3 years of waiting I was not much excited any more. I wasn't that excited as I got the prototype. At the same day I got my new Smartphone and setting that up was a lot fun. I could do anything with it and my Laptop is better for typing and programming. And I have a Nintendo Swtich for gaming and don't care about older games any more. So does the Pyra have much use now? Will it ever be able to influence me as much as the Pandora or will I go an other way?

Then I used it for one day at University...

... It's the best thing ever. I'm so happy to finally have one.
It is a REAL PC. Not a slow, broken, old device. It feels like having my PC with me.
Who needs that other crap any more (well, except the Nintendo :p). This will be my main device.
It's perfect as soon as I get a main PCB with proper Keyboard and the LTE module.
The Pandora feeling is coming back.
And this time I do know a lot more than 7 years ago and finally study the right subject to use even more of the Pyra's potential.

That's it for now.
If something interesting will happen I'll report it for you.
I won't do screenshots of WhatsApp or ThunderBird as it's vontains private Data of myself and others.
For anything else you may ask me to do pictures.
Sound seems broken on my unit so I cant test how loud the headphones are compared to the Pandora.
Feel free to ask what you want to know. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to post things on my own.
Last edited:


Very Active Member
Jun 4, 2016
Then I used it for one day at University...

... It's the best thing ever. I'm so happy to finally have one.
It is a REAL PC. Not a slow, broken, old device. It feels like having my PC with me.

I don't need to read the rest... (I did) :)
That's everything I need to know. I'm really excited how the Pyra works when all those glitches are ironed out.

Thanks for your report @Askarus


They'll own everything and be miserable.
Dec 14, 2012
@Askarus: how do others react to the apparatus? And compared to the Pandora? When you mean slow to compile, do you mean loading the libraries and starting or do you mean caching is not that good? Second time a linux program starts fast because it is cached in RAM.


Hardcore Member
Jun 5, 2008
Netherlands if the waiting wasn't hard enough yet... Thanks for nothing buddy.

Sounds great man. Keep us up-to-date.


Very Active Member
Jun 19, 2010
As an extra as I'm now using the MATE desktop instead of XFCE the dark theme does not make the text entry fields black and doesn't block the sight any more.
Different theme I assume? The desktop environment doesn't have a direct influence to this. The underlying widget toolkit used by the program is still the same.


Can't Remember
Aug 30, 2010
Great write up @Askarus

Sounds like prototyping at its finest, keep us posted especially if you get a proper keymat.

I like the sound of different materials for keys & buttons as the feel you want from a gaming button is pretty different to a keyboard key. However I'm not sure that will be practical, perhaps @EvilDragon could chip in here.

Great to hear how easy the Pyra is to take apart, simple upgradability and modability will surely be attractive to a certain niche.


Forum Addict!
Oct 3, 2008
I thought ED said it couldn't run at 1.5 GHz for extended periods without overheating
I thought it was more like it couldn't run 100% on both cores continuously without a thermal solution. In the above use cases, it would only touch that briefly.


Still fresh, damnit!
Oct 6, 2008
Somewhere off the coast of the EU
Yes, that rings more of a bell. I think he was doing a big compilation job at 1.whatever GHz to test out thermals.

Does the Pyra ramp down the CPU dynamically the same way the Pandora does? So if the CPU is idle it actually throttles the CPU down to a minimum frequency, so actually it's only ever at the currently selected max if you're 100%ing one core or the other. Or is that work still to be done? I guess that's kind of a fairly common linux feature - my CPU on this netbook is currently running at half speed, which tends to be about as far as x86 chips go down. My build server always starts at max GHz though, and only downclocks if thermally forced to, and after cooling down will rapidly bring the clock up if you do anything with it, which is a bit different to the way my Pandora behaves. Maybe it depends on whether the OS is running on battery or not.


Very Active Member
Oct 29, 2011
How would you compare the nubs of the Pyra to the Pandora's nubs? Do they have more travel? How are the clickable centers of them?


Hardcore Member
Jun 5, 2008
This thread has started to give me that feeling that I had in the early days of the Pandora release.

All kinds of stuff being discovered, applications being developed and improvements being made.
That lively buzz of activity that gets you more and more excited every day.
Excited to see what surprises are coming, excited to see if that project you were looking out for made any progress yet.
Excited to be part of a community that, against all odds, manages to pull off something unique.

With all the set-backs and delays that we have been seeing, I needed this bit of positive news. Thanks @Askarus.


homebrew player (P. & C.)
Sep 9, 2008
I thought ED said it couldn't run at 1.5 GHz for extended periods without overheating
The cpu gouvernor is "ondemand" it scale the cpu frequency from 0.25Ghz to 1.5GHz by step of 0.25Ghz. As you can see on the bellow screenshot


Still fresh, damnit!
Oct 6, 2008
Somewhere off the coast of the EU
Ah right, seems my archlinux netbook and server are both on the schedutil governor, which is seems will ramp up the CPU to do work, but will generally only knock it down when thermals go out of range (>60 degrees C on my server, it seems). I don't seem to have ondemand available, and the CPU only offers four freqencies between 100% and 50% of max. I'll have to check the same on my ARM SBC once I get that up and running (currently waiting for network cable bits and pieces).


Very Active Member
Sep 14, 2016
Just for curiosity, where the cracks have started?
Figuring out why they happened (fatigue/overstress/cyclic impacts from loose components) may give interesting insights to the final device development.