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Pine64 preps 10.1-inch E-Ink tablet with RK3566

Aug 16, 2021 — by Eric Brown — 849 views

Pine64’s upcoming “PineNote” E-ink tablet will run Linux on a Rockchip RK3566 and offer a 10.1-inch, 1404 x 1872 grayscale touchscreen plus 4GB LPDDR4, 128GB eMMC, mics and speakers, USB Type-C, WiFi 5, and an EMR pen.

More so than other community-backed hacker board projects, Pine64 experiments with alternative open-spec form factors in addition to its Linux-driven SBCs. Examples include the open-spec PinePhone smartphone, Pinebook Pro laptop, and PineTab tablet. Now it has announced some specs and posted images for a PineNote E-Ink tablet designed for note-taking and reading.



PineNote screen with pen and cover (left) and internal view
(click images to enlarge)

The PineNote shares some technology of its recent Quartz64 model A, a more robust, developer oriented sibling to the upcoming, more Raspberry Pi like Quartz64 model B. The tablet runs Linux on the same quad-core Cortex-A53 Rockchip RK3566 and offers the same E-Ink interface of the Quartz64 Model A.


Quartz64 Model A

The PineNote will likely be one of the most powerful (and one of the more expensive) E-ink readers around when it goes on sale to early adopters later this year at $399. The tablet will ship with 4GB LPDDR4 and 128GB eMMC.

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The 10.1 inch screeb has a resolution of 1404 x 1872 pixels (227 DPI) and a 3:4 aspect ratio. The screen displays 16 levels of grayscale with 60hz refresh and lets you adjust the light level from cool white to warm amber.

There is a capacitive glass layer for finger input plus a Wacom electromagnetic resonance layer (EMR) pen. The pen has a faint LED power on/off indicator, a previous/next page button, and an eraser button. The initial developers version will include the pen and a magnetic cover that works with an on-board hall sensor to put the device to sleep. These will both be optional on the eventual consumer model.



PineNote internal view with exposed circuits
(click image to enlarge)

The PineNote is equipped with a dual-band 802.11ac radio, although there is no mention of Bluetooth. The tablet will also integrate dual speakers and dual mics.

A USB Type-C port is used for fast charging but may possibly be the connection for a future keyboard option planned by Pine64. The idea is that the tablet is more than an e-reader and can act as a desktop replacement, perhaps for home night-time use to soothe the eyes of users who have been staring at a bright screen all day. (Speaking of keyboards, Pine64 now says that the PinePhone keyboard will be available in September.)

The Linux support will follow the work being done to offer mainline Linux support on the Quartz64 boards. However, the E-ink driver “will most likely not be functional at the time of the device’s release in mainline Linux,” says Pine64. “So initial batches will probably ship with Manjaro built atop of BSP kernel 4.19, unless devs can get the driver to work with 5.XX kernel in the next few months.” Pine64 is also talking to the KDE community to decide between using Plasma or Plasma Mobile for the UI.


PineTab

The PineNote offers fewer features the similarly 10.1-inch, Allwinner A64-based PineTab, which sells for $100. There was no mention of PineTab features such as mini-HDMI, 2x USB, dual cameras, and an M.2 slot. The RK3566 is more powerful than the similarly quad -A53 A64 SoC, however, with superior Mali-G52 EE graphics and a 0.8-TOPS NPU.

 
Further information

The initial developer version of the PineNote will be available to early adopters later this year at $399, including pen and cover. More information may be found in Pine64’s August update, which also covers the PinePhone keyboard plus improved trackpad firmware for the PineBook Pro and more.
 

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One response to “Pine64 preps 10.1-inch E-Ink tablet with RK3566”

  1. Chip says:

    Great news! I will likely get one when it becomes available, although I’d rather spend more for a 13″ screen version. Aside from the usual aging related sight problems, for some uses the bigger screen the better.

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