PineTab 2 is another Linux tablet experience, without the supply crunch of 2020

Zoom in / PCB of the PineTab 2 prototype, successor to the tablet that hit production at the worst possible point in 2020.


Pine64, maker of tinker-friendly ARM-based gadgets, is making the PineTab 2, a sequel to the Linux-powered tablet that has been swallowed up by the pandemic and serious global manufacturing shortages.

The PineTab 2, as described in the “December Update” for Pine64, is based on the RK3566, made by RockChip. Pine64 based its single-board Quartz 64 system on a chip (SoC) system, and I’ve gushed about it via several blog posts. “A dream SoC,” community manager Lukasz Erecinski writes, “a modern mid-range quad-core Cortex-A55 processor that integrates a Mali-G52 MP2 GPU. It should be ideal for devices with limited space. : works great, has A variety of I/O options, a solid price-to-performance ratio, and “real future proof.” While support for Linux was scarce early on, development of the RK3566 is “thriving,” and it is now a prime candidate for mobile operating systems, Eresinski wrote.

Inside is a prototype PineTab 2, with a battery and out-of-the-box connectors hidden for possible replacement.
Zoom in / Inside is a prototype PineTab 2, with a battery and out-of-the-box connectors hidden for possible replacement.

Erecinski claims the PineTab 2 is a complete redesign. It has a metal chassis that is “very strong while also being easy to disassemble for upgrades, maintenance, and repairs.” The tablet comes with extra tabs, and Pine64 will provide a spare. The insides are also modular, with eMMC storage, and the camera, motherboard, battery, and keyboard connector all removable “in less than 5 minutes”. A 10.1-inch IPS display with “reasonably thin and modern bezels” should also be replaceable, albeit with more work.

Pine64 December Update Video – Details on the PineTab 2 start at 7:11.

On this easily opened chassis are two USB-C ports, one for USB 3.0 I/O and one for charging (or USB 2.0 if you want). There’s a dedicated micro-HDMI port, a 2MP front camera and a 5MP rear camera (not the kind of all-in-one media production machine that Apple advertises, this tablet), a microSD slot, and a headphone jack. While the PCIe system is exposed inside the PineTab, most NVMe SSDs won’t fit, according to Pine64. All of this is subject to change prior to final production.

As with the original PineTab, this model comes with a detachable, backlit keyboard cover, included by default. This makes desktop OS support for the device more viable, Eresinski writes. The firmware chipset is the same as the one in the PineBook Pro, which should help with that. No default operating system has been specified yet, according to Pine64.

The tablet should come with two memory/storage variants, 4GB/64GB and 8GB/128GB. It’s slated to ship “sometime after Chinese New Year” (January 22 to February 5), though there’s no exact date. No price has been announced, but “it will be affordable no matter which version you settle for.”

The original PineTab eventually shipped, but Erecinski describes it as a “victim of COVID and its fallout,” and its “death” as an option to focus on the PinePhone. Pine64 later repeated on the phone to introduce the PinePhone Pro. As with the PineBook and PinePhone, context is key: This is a device meant for tinkering, experimenting, or using as a really low-power backup/replacement device, not a daily driver or workhorse for most people. However, those who know themselves enough to ask should keep their eyes peeled for early next year.

Listing image by Pine64

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