The fuss over Linux phones seems to have died down a bit, perhaps due to the coronavirus pandemic making it harder to manufacture and ship these devices. For companies and developers pushing these open source and privacy-focused ecosystems forward, the show must go on. After a brief period of relative (but not total) silence, PINE64, makers of the PinePhone Linux phone, has opened pre-orders for its Linux tablet that’s coming with a slight twist.
The PinePhone that started shipping earlier this year was, technically, a developer edition. That’s why there was no operating system pre-installed, requiring developers and advanced users to pick and use what they want on their own. A few months later, PINE64 and the UBports community announced a partnership that brought about a PinePhone with the community-made Ubuntu Touch pre-installed. It seems that this partnership has grown beyond that initial device, too.
The PineTab Linux tablet has been in development for a while but it was never really clear what OS would work on it. Unlike for smartphones, there few open source projects designed to run on tablets. Of those few, UBports is perhaps the most immediately usable, and rather than force users to download and install it, PINE64 decided to ship with the software from the get-go.
Other than running a (almost) purely Linux operating system, the PineTab might actually come off as an entry-level tablet running on a 1.2 GHz quad-core Allwinner A64 chip with only 2 GB of RAM. Even the 10.1-inch 1280×800 is just enough for HD video viewing but the replaceable 64GB eMMC module might not be enough to store all that you want.
Of course, comparing the PineTab even against today’s cheap Android tablets would be missing the point of the device entirely. Designed to be open source and privacy-minded, the tablet is meant for users moving away from Android, iOS, and even Windows who don’t mind doing some work to get things running just the way they want it. If you’re that type of mobile user, the PINE64 PineTab is now available for pre-order for $119.98 with a keyboard or $99.99 for the tablet alone, though buyers need to take note of shipping and custom considerations, especially during these times.