Pinebook Pro – First Impressions
Disclaimer: I want to give a big shout out to Pine64 for graciously donating the Pinebook Pro to me. I want to make it clear that even though this was provided freely, this will not effect my review of the product and Pine64 does not get an early screening of this blog post, so you are reading it at the same time as them.
When the Pinebook Pro first arrived at my doorstep, I was excited to immediately jump into the packaging and see what this $200 arm based laptop was capable of. I loaded up my favorite OS, Fedora OS, did some updates and spent quite a bit of time with the device, here are my thoughts.
As I have shared on social media (Mastodon), I am writing this blog post and posting it to my website via the Pinebook Pro. I found this a good test to get some real hands on experience with the laptop and form some opinions to come in later reviews. For now this is just my initial impressions of the laptop.
Upon first checking out the laptop, it’s clear there’s a decent weight to the device and it doesn't feel cheap. The laptop has no branding outside of the Pine Key(think Windows Key) it has a good feeling keyboard(not backlit), a comfortable hand rest and a rather lackluster feeling(and operating) touch-pad. The display on this laptop is better than I’ve seen on any other $200 laptop and the ability to charge via USB C is a huge plus. While initially the speakers didn’t work for me, an update to the OS seemed to fix that issue. They’re quite tinny and quiet though.
The laptop doesn’t get very warm when in use, but it sure is a finger print magnet. There are templates for printing your own skin for it on the Pine64 forums if that’s your thing. The laptop fits in a standard laptop bag and doesn’t take up much space when closed.
Upon opening up the laptop, you can tell replacing the components should be quite easy. One thing I should mention is that it can be very easy to lose the screws that hold the bottom plate on, so be very careful and have a lot of light when you open it up. Make no mistake, you will need to open up the Pinebook Pro if you want to change out the operating system on the EMMC drive or the SSD(for which you'll need an add on for as well as the SSD).
Thoughts After Some Hands On Time
I have to admit that while writing this blog post, I kept getting quite frustrated. Whenever I was typing out long sentences, the cursor would randomly move around causing a lot of headaches along the way. I also had difficulty with the arrow keys not actuating which made navigating through paragraphs in documents a chore. I ended up plugging in a Glorious PC Gaming Race model O mouse and it helped reduce the instances of random cursor jumping, but it didn't get rid of it. I attempted at first to use the track-pad after speeding up the track-pad speed in Gnome's settings and while it did help a lot, making small and precise movements were almost impossible. The mouse is your friend when it comes to this laptop.
I really have to hand it to Pine64 for delivering such a great device in this $200 arm based laptop. While it's not perfect, it's more than adequate to run a blog on, to do email, light web browsing(videos aren't great), music editing, etc. If you're at all interested in what else the company has to offer, check out their website at Pine64.com, tell them Braillynn sent you.