OpenPandora relaunch opens pre-orders

February 2, 2012 // 2:15 p.m.

Tags: #arm #hand-held-console #linux #omap3 #openpandora #texas-instruments

The OpenPandora project, which aims to create a hand-held console capable of running a full Linux install, has announced that it is taking pre-orders for a second production run.

For the uninitiated, the OpenPandora features a 4.3in touch-screen running at 800x480, a Texas Instruments OMAP3350 ARM Cortex-A8-based system-on-chip running at 600MHz with PowerVR SGX graphics, and 256MB of RAM. Storage is taken care of by 512MB of NAND flash integral to the device, along with two SDHC card slots at the front of the unit.

Designed as both a highly portable computing platform and an open gaming platform, the system features dual analogue thumbsticks, an eight-way D-pad, and four buttons. For more professional uses, a QWERTY keyboard is included.

Although the specifications of the device might seem a little weak compared to the far more powerful Sony's PlayStation Vita and lack the 3D magic of Nintendo's 3DS, according to the project's own figures a single charge of the device's battery will give it a ten hour lifespan.

If that's not enough, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is built in as standard, along with USB 2.0 host support and connectivity for hooking the device up to a TV for big-screen gaming.

Designed primarily for homebrew or emulator use, the system allows the user to choose between a custom GUI dubbed 'Lucid' and aimed at gamers or a fully-functional Xfce-based Linux desktop environment compatible with web browsers, office applications and even compilers and IDEs for working on your own code while out and about.

Since the first revision of the hardware began shipping in May 2010, around 2,800 units have been sold. Production issues marred the launch, however, leading to this relaunch of the device using a hopefully more reliable German production facility.

To encourage growth in the project, OpenPandora's founder has launched a competition for software developers to create something for the platform. With prizes including limited edition hardware, it's worth a glimpse if you're at all into coding.

If you're just interested in using the thing, there is one small catch: the price. At €445 (around £370,) the OpenPandora is the most expensive hand-held console around. If that doesn't put you off, more information is available on the official website.

Tempted to get your hands on the most open portable gaming platform ever, or has the high price put you off? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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