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Android/Linux and Windows/Linux PDAs fund on Indiegogo

Mar 2, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 1,268 views
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Two PDA clamshells with keyboards have funded on Indiegogo: a 5.7-inch, 4G “Gemini PDA” with Android and Linux, and a 7-inch, Ubuntu/Windows “GPD Pocket.”

A UK-based startup called Planet Computers and Shenzhen-based GamePad Digital have each successfully funded dual-OS clamshell devices on Indiegogo. The devices resemble the personal device assistants (PDAs) of the late ‘90s, as well as the Intel-backed Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPCs) that briefly flowered 10 years later.



Planet Gemini (left) and GPD Pocket
(click images to enlarge)

Both the Planet Computers Android/Linux Gemini PDA and GamePad Digital’s Ubuntu/Windows 10 GPD Pocket are available throughout March. The Gemini PDA goes for $299 (WiFi) and $349 (4G), with shipments in November and December. The WiFi-only GPD Pocket sells for $399 and ships in June.

The Gemini PDA offers a dual-boot function for Android and Linux, while the GPD Pocket is preloaded with Windows 10 or Ubuntu up front. The 5.7-inch Gemini PDA runs on a deca-core ARM64 based MediaTek Helio X25 SoC and offers optional 4G data and telephony. The WiFi-only, 7-inch GPD Pocket runs on an Intel Atom “Cherry Trail” x7-Z8750.

Phones and small tablets with hardware-based keyboards are few and far between these days, although full-sized tablets often sport them, either as accessories or as pre-integrated 2-and-1s. On Indiegogo, the vendors argue that it’s time to reconsider palm-sized mobile devices with keyboards, noting that frequent typists are often frustrated with onscreen keyboards that lack tactile response and block half the screen. In addition, circa-2017 technology enables slimmer, lighter designs than in past decades, not to mention much greater computing power.

 
Gemini PDA

Martin Riddiford, the chief designer of the Psion PDA, also designed the Gemini PDA, bringing the form factor up to date with a deca-core SoC, optional 4G telephony, and an Android/Linux dual-boot setup. The Gemini PDA is available on Indiegogo at early bird prices of $299 for the WiFi-only version due in December, and $349 for the 4G/WiFi model due in November. Post early bird prices for the 4G version will rise $50, and eventual retail pricing will be $499 and $599, respectively.



Another view of the Gemini PDA
(click image to enlarge)

With the QWERTY keyboard folded up, the Gemini PDA measures 171.3 x 80 x 13.5mm, almost half the thickness of the similarly Psion-like PsiXpda UMPC from 2009. The device measures 400 grams, including the 8000mAh battery, which is claimed to offer 12 hours of talk and two weeks of standby time.


Gemini PDA details
(click image to enlarge)

The device defaults to running an unnamed (and perhaps unknown) “latest” version of Android on a Mediatek Helio X25, with an unnamed Linux distribution available under a dual-boot scheme. The SoC preceded the similarly 10-core, but Cortex-A73 enabled Helio X30, which was finally released this week.

The Helio X25 features dual 2.5GHz Cortex-A72 cores, as well as two quad-core banks of Cortex-A53 cores split between 2.0GHz and 1.55GHz. The Helio X25 has an 850MHz version of the Mali T880 MP4 GPU.

The Gemini PDA is further equipped with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal flash, and a microSD slot. The 5.7-inch, 2880 x 1440-pixel, multitouch screen has a density of 564 pixels per inch, as well as scratch resistant glass. Certain key applications will be optimized for the screen’s landscape orientation, says Planet Computers.

Both versions offer 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, aGPS, and NFC. The $349 version adds a SIM slot with available cards supporting GSM, WCDMA, and LTE 1-20 with support for VoLTE.

The Gemini PDA integrates a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, dual USB Type C ports, a fingerprint reader, and accelerometer, compass, light sensor, gyro, and magneto-sensor. The QWERTY keyboard has a dedicated voice assistance button, and there are onboard speakers, mic, and 3.5mm audio jack.

Options include a $50 leather pouch and a connectivity pack with a USB-C hub and charger. The pack also includes an HDMI cable, although there’s no mention of an HDMI port.

 
GPD Pocket

If the Gemini PDA seems like a mash-up between the Psion and a QWERTY-enabled Android phone, the GPD Pocket resembles the MIDs from the 2008-2009 era. Like many of those MIDs and UMPCs — the label revived by GamePad Digital — the 180 x 106 x 18.5mm, 480-gram GPD Pocket has a 7-inch screen and runs either Windows and Linux on an Intel Atom processor. The design is also somewhat reminiscent of the smaller models among the often Atom-based netbooks that arrived at the end of the decade.



Two more views of the GPD Pocket
(click images to enlarge)

The 14nm, quad-core Cherry Trail Intel Atom x7-Z8750 is clocked to 1.6GHz (2.56GHz burst), and is far more powerful and power efficient (2W SDP) than the old single-core Atom Z510s used on MIDs. The 7-inch multitouch, IPS screen has much higher 1920 x 1200, 323.45PPI resolution, although it can’t match the Gemini PDA’s high-res display.


GPD Pocket details
(click image to enlarge)

You get a choice of loading Windows 10 Home or Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Gamepad Digital previously released a 5.5-inch GPD Win handheld for the gaming market, but Ubuntu appears to be the designers’ OS of choice on the GPD Pocket.

The GPD Pocket sells for $399 or $409 when equipped with a USB Type C hub with USB 2.0 host, micro-USB, microSD, and SD connections. Retail prices will be $200 higher.

The GPD Pocket ships with 8GB LPDDR3-1600 RAM and 128GB eMMC flash storage. Both offer 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1, along with a micro-HDMI port. There’s a USB 3.0 Type-A and USB 3.0 Type-C port, with the latter said to be optimal for 4G data modems. There’s also 3.5mm audio jack and speakers, and a microphone is said to be “supported.”

The device provides a non-removable 7000mAh battery with about 12 hours of life. Other features include a gravity sensor and a trackpoint integrated into the fold-down QWERTY keyboard. The design is touted for its exceptional cooling performance.

 
Further information

The Gemini PDA is available starting at $299 or $349 (4G) through March on Indiegogo, with shipments due in November or December. The GPD Pocket sells for $399 or $409 with USB hub through March with shipments due in June. More information may be found on the Gemini PDA and GPD Pocket Indiegogo pages, respectively.
 

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