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Pinebook Pro Lap goes on pre-order for $199 with new twist: privacy switches

Jul 25, 2019 — by Eric Brown 2,377 views

Pine64 has opened $199 pre-orders on its open-spec, 14-inch Pinebook Pro laptop, which runs Linux on a Rockchip RK3399 and features 3x privacy switches. The Rock64 Rev 3, PineTab tablet, PinePhone should follow shortly.

As promised in a July 5 blog announcement, Pine64 has opened pre-orders for $199 on its 14-inch Pinebook Pro laptop, the follow-on to the original 11.6-inch Pinebook. No ship date was listed, and although Pine64 billed the Pinebook Pro as a commercial product compared to the small batch, developer-focused Pinebook, the company warns that the first batch is likely to have some rough edges.

Pinebook Pro
(click images to enlarge)

The $199 Pinebook Pro advances from the quad-core, Cortex-A53 Allwinner H64 to a hexa-core -A53 and -A72 Rockchip RK3399. The second-gen Pro laptop will not replace the $99 and up 11.6-inch version of the Pinebook, although the original’s 14-inch version may receive an upgrade to make it more like the Pro.

Pine64 community members who registered on the forum prior to July 1 will receive pre-order priority. They are also eligible for a 128GB eMMC upgrade from the standard 64GB that is described as “a limited-time offer, available only for the first batch of Pinebook Pro laptops.”


Pine H64
Model B

Pine64 announced the Pinebook Pro on Jan. 29 at FOSDEM along with several other similarly open-spec products due to ship in 2019. The Allwinner H6-based Pine H64 Model B SBC was the first of the products to go on pre-order and was shipping by the time of our early June catalog of 125 Linux hacker boards.

The July 5 announcement notes that the 10-inch, Allwinner H64-based PineTab tablet and PinePhone Development Kit will follow. “The PinePhone prototypes are currently being manufactured (due in August) and the PineTab dev kits are rolling off the factory line to be shipped out to developers,” said the blog post.

PinePhone Development Kit (left) and PineTab with optional keyboard
(click images to enlarge)

In the same July 5 post, Pine64 announced a new privacy switch feature for the Pinebook Pro. There are three privacy switches mapped to the F1, F2, and F3 keys on the keyboard that deactivate WiFi/BT, the webcam, and the microphone, respectively. The privacy keys are triggered by firmware that is separate from the Linux OS. After pressing for the required duration, the keys cut power to the selected peripheral.

Three OS choices will be available on launch: Debian, Chromium OS, and Android 9. The system will default to Debian, which features an accelerated Mate desktop that supports 3D graphics and up to 4K video at 30fps. The Debian and Chromium OS builds are said to run smoothly. As for Android 9, Pine64 only says “it works.”

Ubuntu also works on the laptop, and other Linux distros are also expected to support the platform. A video demo from July 16 may be found here.

Pinebook Pro video demo showing 4K support
(click image to enlarge)

Aside from the privacy switches, we did not notice any changes to the hardware specs since the original announcement. The Pro offers a higher-res 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, now with IPS, as well as twice the RAM (4GB LPDDR4). It also offers four times the storage at 64GB — or eight times more if you are in line to get the 128GB option.

Other highlights include USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, and a USB Type-C port that supports DP-like 4K@60Hz video. You can charge the 10,000 mAh battery via Type-C (15W 5V 3A), as well as the 100~240V input, but it’s still a work in progress, according to the July 5 update. There was no claim for battery life, which is also in the process of being improved.

Other features on the 1.26 kg laptop include a microSD slot, an improved 2-megapixel camera, a large multi-touch touchpad, a headphone jack and mic. There’s no GbE port, but you get 802.11/ac and Bluetooth 5.0. There’s also a $7 option for an M.2 slot adapter that supports NVMe storage.

Rock64 Rev 3

Additional open-spec Pine64 products due later this year include the Rock64 Rev 3, a new version of the quad -A53 Rockchip RK3328 based Rock64 SBC. New features include PoE, RTC, improved RPi 2 GPIO compatibility, and support for high-speed microSD cards. The Rev 3 board, which is being tested by selected community beta testers is listed as out of stock and “coming soon” for $29.95 on Ameridroid.

Finally, Pine64 plans to ship an Allwinner SRL based IP camera called The CUBE with MIPI-CSI, WiFi/BT, and 10/100 Ethernet with PoE. There will also be a Roshambo Retro-Gaming case and accessory set.

Further information

The Pinebook Pro is available for pre-order at $199. No ship date was announced. More information may be found at Pine64’s Pinebook Pro pre-order page.


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One response to “Pinebook Pro Lap goes on pre-order for $199 with new twist: privacy switches”

  1. bill says:

    Privacy keys look nice, but if handled by firmware/software can be easily source of hidden keylogger, as I assume firmware has access to all keystrokes without being noticed by operating systems.
    Only hardware kill switches can give privacy&security here.
    Same approach is set up in chromebooks – OS + secret firmware provided by google who has access to all keys on keyboard. If not handled with secure boot – this can provide more vulnerabilities than privacy.

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