Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Open Pandora Project…To little to late?

pandastartThe Open Pandora project was a device that was build in response to the popular open source device, the GP32.  When the GP2x was released, a great deal number of fans were disappointed and wanted more.  They practically demanded it!  Well, an ingenious and inventive group of guys, Craig Rothwell, Michael Weston, Michael Mrozek, M. Fatih KILIC, took down some information and ideas and started creating Open Pandora back around 2007.

Now I am going to admit that some of the dates here are not going to be accurate and I will generalize them, but they are well enough close to make due.  Two or three years ago, the Pandora was announce and sometime in 2008 pre-orders were being taken.  It was at that time promised that the device would ship about “two months” later.  Well, it is now 2010, and a few months ago this year, the device finally started shipping.  The big question, should anyone really care?

Technically speaking, the device would have been a powerhouse and revolutionary… if it would have come out 2 years ago.  The tech sheet looks a lot like the Motorola Droids tech specs.  Now granted, since the Froyo 2.2 update, the Droid actually runs at 600mhtz now, and not at the 550mhtz listed on the Motorola website.

Here is the problem though.  The Motorola Droid was released in December 2009!  LAST year people!  If Pandora would have shipped two years ago, as planned, it would have been revolutionary!  It didn’t and it completely missed its mark!  I could do a run down with a side by side comparison of the two devices and sadly would end up confusing people if I happened to not put which spec is for which device.  The Droid literally “Does” what the Pandora can do, and in the case of 3G connectivity, phone calls, and solid customer support; Doesn’t.

Here are a few examples where both are the same.

  • Both have an ARM A8 Cortex Processor running at 600mHtz
  • Both have full qwerty keyboards
  • Both have touchscreen interfaces (Droid is capacitive, Pandora is resistive)
  • Both have approx. 800x480 resolution (Droid is 854 and a 3.7” screen.  Pandora is a 4.7” screen)
  • Both have custom Linux as the OS
  • Both have Hardware accelerate OpenGL ES 2.0 (Not sure what Droid is built on)
  • Both have 802.11 b/g Wifi
  • Both have Bluetooth (Droid is 2.1, Pandora is 2.0)
  • Both have very similar base line battery life
  • Both encourage open development of applications

In areas the Droid doesn’t have the features that the Pandora has.

  • Droid lacks the dual analog and dedicated gaming controls (can compensate with Game Gripper attachment, or with Wii Controller apps and Wii-mote w/ classic controller)
  • Droid lacks USB
  • Droid lacks TV out of any sort
  • Droid lacks Dual HCSD slots, but does have 16gb MicroSD HCSD support and up to 32gb. Pandora’s dual slot design offers up to 64gb total maximum.
  • Droid is not meant to be “Rooted” where the Pandora is completely open and hackable.

Here is where the Droid does have features the Pandora lacks.

  • 3G connectivity for an always connected environment
  • 5 megapixel camera with dual flash
  • A dedicated Market place to quickly and easily download content.  The Pandora will most likely rely on forums and unconnected websites to house software from homebrew developers, hackers, etc.

For the most part, where the Pandora has the Droid “beat” are for the most part irrelevant.  I could also be comparing apples to oranges between these two devices, but when the hardware is so similar between the two, and both can accomplish the same exact goals as the other, one has to draw comparisons and conclude the relevance of one said device.  In this case, the Pandora is no longer a relevant piece of engineering based on what it can do compared to what the Droid, and the Android platform, has been doing already.  And at approximately $349 USD, one could purchase a Netbook and do the very same things the Pandora is trying to do for the most part.

To little, to late Pandora.  Back to the drawing board for Pandora 2.  This time, release it a bit faster.

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