Limitations Vs. Options and Customizations.


Island Man with Pandora in my pocket
Feb 15, 2003
Say for a moment that every device currently available was created equal. Meaning, The Pandora, Ipad, Tablet MIDs, Chrome Book and other obscure devices all did pretty much the same thing.

I walked over to the new IPAD 2 at a Best Buy and started messing around. It was sleekly finished. It was immediately easy to pickup and use, and explored its UI without being overwhelmed or confused.

Now, not to be miss understood. I do have a Ipod Touch, Chrome Book OS on my netbook, Pandora, SmartQ Android tablet, and Archos 42. Being an end user of these gadgets, it is a fact that YES it is easier to pickup and play with the Apple device. Its "SIMPLE" "Intuitive" and "PLAIN."

What I've found was like a smack in the face. These Apple Devices are all of the above things, but they are also "LIMITED". The limitations I speak of are immediate and glaringly obvious with APPLE devices to me. The Simplistic UI doesn't just guide you, it forces you to go "left", when you want to go "right". Sure every device has settings to fiddle with, but even with the Apple device that too is limited to its software development AND what Apple "Believes" the end user will be comfortable with.

Now lets look at the Pandora.

You need the knowledge in advance to setup your SD card otherwise its straight to the Pandora forum for help. Then as you work with the Pandora's UI (both minimenu and full desktop.) You either need to already be familiar with Linux for the desktop or start exploring key button presses for the Minimenu. Now this isn't neccessarily a bad thing. In fact, as an enduser who doesn't mind and enjoys tinkering with settings and modes, The Pandora is perfect for me. BUT.. with the majority of the Endusers oogling over easier UI's. Its tough (for me) to see an amateur consumer of electronic goods to purchase AND be HAPPY with the Pandora's "ease of use."

So IN THE END, I started looking at the Pandora vs. every other device as a very Black and White topic.

Pandora = extreme custom options and customizational UI, thus consumer needs prior knowledge of its UI and setup.

Ipad= Ease of use, thus allowing the enduser to have a full "LIMITED experience"

Ipod touch= Ease of use,thus allowing the enduser to have a full "LIMITED experience"

Craig and others seem very passionate about making the Pandora MORE Userfriendly, and MORE immediately functional; which is certainly reachable and obtainable. BUT I am hoping those that are attempting to improve this device do not decide to "Dumb down" the Pandora with a Simpler UI and thus creating immediate limitations.

There are so many devices out there now Dumbing down their devices for the general public. Even the new Google Chrome Book is immediately limited by its Cloud usabilty, and limited OS, and yet the GUI is simple, fun and ready to go OUT of the BOX.

My suggestion is to not limit the Pandora and sacrifice customization for a sleeker UI. Am I wrong? Is it too Black and White?

you choose. Lets discuss it.
The Pandora is open. Unlike many of the other products you mention, changing the firmware of the Pandora is always possible and even supported by both the community and OpenPandora. Craig explicitly mentioned that even when he has a simpler user interface that whatever is out there now will remain a viable alternative.

So, in the future we will have more choice. Either XFCE, MiniMenu or the limited iPhone-clone GUI or whatever it will turn out to be.
I agree, if we can build a GUI with a simplistic approach and easy to understand interface, YET keep all the form and Functions of what we (the OPT team and supporting developers) built for the Pandora. THen THIS would be one of the MAJOR selling points of this device.


Thanks for the feedback guys.
write down your requirements, Craig, the community wants to help, just specify, we all want the same, make pandora more popular, easier, profitable. Trust the community! :)

I agree to a point here. This Pandora was created by the community or at least by members of this community who truly are passionate and care immensly about this device. I am ONLY an end user, but I've promoted the shit out of this device in NYC and beyond. I've done private and public demos of this device all over. The demand is there. 500 dollars is not an easy sell, BUT its a worth wild sell when THESE people (end users) see what you can do with the device and can try it.

It would be greatly beneficial to OPT and this community if we all stuck together and fought hard to make it successful on a broader scale.
Am I wrong?
You are very right. I have stated time and again that what differentiates the Pandora from any Android phone or iPhone is the idea of openness:

It's not that I think no one would buy an Android Pandora. It's just that mainstream people buying a Pandora will probably be mightily unimpressed by the device. When using it they'd probably experience that it's "another Android device" with
special gaming controls. As has been mentioned before, this doesn't mean that most Android software might not run pretty well on the Pandora. However, it makes the Pandora more of a "casual machine". Some of the mainstream people that don't care about how the Pandora works might just think that another Android device without the gaming controls but with an integrated phone function and a smaller form factor would have been better for them. After all, that's the kind of device most Android software is being developed for, so it works pretty decent on these kinds of devices (decent enough for mainstream users). And so their negative word-by-mouth would spread, saying that buying an Android phone might be better.

The problem is that users that are TOO mainstream and don't care about the backgrounds would complain that Pandora with Android is similar to any Android phone, just not as portable and without the phone. That's what the kind of person that doesn't see (or isn't taught) the backgrounds and possibilities of the Pandora would see. By using Android as an official OS and offering it pre-installed, you would end up attracting this kind of person. In the beginning, it would be good since the number of sold Pandoras would probably rise at first, but in the long term it's very dangerous.

To make sure that end users "get" this (as opposed to seeing the Pandora as an expensive piece of outdated hardware), it is important to encourage them to follow their curiosity and find out more about the Pandora. And yet, it IS important to make the Pandora more user friendly. There are several ways that I can think of that can help combine these two things. The most important one is to provide a very easy way to completely toggle between a Pandora-optimized entertainment user interface and the full Xfce desktop:

[...] "That thing you toggle to when you're in xfce and press the Pandora button" (for lack of a better term, a "pandora center" if you will). I call it "metamenu".


[...] I see keeping the "big xfce desktop" as being of high importance, since the Pandora is more of a tiny netbook than a typical gaming console. Following that idea, to make users become confident in using the Pandora and avoid confusion it's important to NOT induce epic redundancy in terms of functionality into xfce/"pandora center" and instead put every function where it belongs. So for the metamenu concept to work, I also saw the need to get a detailed idea about what kind of Pandora usage scenario should belong to the "big xfce desktop" and what kind of usage scenario should belong to metamenu. Here is a rough translation of a text which explains the idea in short:

Christoph.K said:
I'm also occasionally contemplating about how to best implement media player, webbrowser etc. on a Pandora (I love finding solutions which exceed the limits of a given system, and developing for devices with a known screen resolution has always fascinated me). Continuing the idea of metamenu, the question would be where to put for instance a media player: would it be better to fit a media player into metamenu or should it belong to the "big xfce desktop" with just an adjusted user interface so it's easier to use with the small touchscreen? To answer that question you can ask yourself another question: "Is this a Pandora specific user experience?"

For instance, a webbrowser would not be a Pandora specific user experience since you can get one on every "big" computer in a similar fashion. Therefore, for a webbrowser it would be better to adjust its user interface and build it into the xfce desktop instead of metamenu. Another example: A media player also is NOT a Pandora specific user experience, you can easily have something similar on a "big" computer. A software dedicated to finding and surfing through YouTube videos fullscreen though could be made into a Pandora-specific user experience, since on a "big" computer it's easier to just surf onto YouTube using a webbrowser (whereas with a Pandora, it isn't), so that'd go into metamenu. Other examples for Pandora specific user experiences could be an emulator management menu or an appstore for Pandora specific content.
Source: (German language link)

Since this won't help if the amount of features in a pandora center lead to a level of complexity that rivals that of the full Xfce desktop, the basic principle must always be to hide advanced features (without removing them). So in other words, the simple conclusion is: decide for the user (in a sane way!), but always let him/her know in an unobtrusive way that there are other choices. This can be applied to many things.
Last edited by a moderator:
In my honest opinion, the fact that the Open Pandora console has its own compiler onboard, is a major, major factor. No other device has all the tools, onboard, to continue to write software for the hardware platform.

This is a real bonus, in my opinion. The separation of compiler from OS is artificial; the Pandora stands to do nothing but gain from the fact of its open nature, and of the existence of tools to build further software on the platform, for the platform.
I really feel you get the best of both worlds with something like a Pandora along with something like an iOS device. With the Pandora, it is open and you are not limited. You can really have free range with the unit. With the iOS device, you are limited, but it is a very sleek end user experience and one that is set up pretty nicely by Apple.
write down your requirements, Craig, the community wants to help, just specify, we all want the same, make pandora more popular, easier, profitable. Trust the community! :)

I think we can safely say that given previous replies from H.M. Craig that he's not going to do that. He doesn't want developers working on it; none of them understand what he's trying to achieve, and he's decided that none of them can understand. He has to do this alone.

Last edited by a moderator:
plus its an open device, no matter how iOS craig tries to make the pandora, nobody really has to follow him if they dont want to, were more then welcome to keep working with that we have and make to suit our small niche ideas, i just dont think craig has quite achieved the success level to sell out to the apple crowd, but whatever, its his company, his device, his money
I think we can safely say that given previous replies from H.M. Craig that he's not going to do that. He doesn't want developers working on it; none of them understand what he's trying to achieve, and he's decided that none of them can understand. He has to do this alone.

It doesn't make sense to say that none of the community developers understand Craig's vision. He hasn't actually explained what he wants to achieve in anything but vague terms (easy software installation, automatic updates), so there's no chance that anyone misunderstood it. We all agree that easy software installation and automatic updates are a good thing (that's why the repo spec and PNDStore exist), but Craig suggested a very specific solution for automatic updates that is objectively worse than the repo spec (because it hits the server once for each package being checked instead of just once for all packages being checked), and then flamed anyone who pointed out that the repo spec already exists, specifically to solve this problem, and is better than the solution he suggested, instead of welcoming the fact that we're already most of the way to the modifications he wanted to make.

It is true that the current PNDStore UI doesn't coincide with the changes to minimenu that Craig described, but that has nothing to do with the repo spec, and doesn't preclude its use for the minimenu changes.
Say for a moment that every device currently available was created equal. Meaning, The Pandora, Ipad, Tablet MIDs, Chrome Book and other obscure devices all did pretty much the same thing.

Lets say for a moment the moon is made of cheese, what then?

Seriously though, I don't think you need to worry about OPT going all Apple on us. You get root access; no cryptographically signed bootloader or kernel; the source is up on GIT... If you don't like the direction things are going just fork it.

A fork - or even a from-scratch effort based on a completely different distro - is kind of inevitable anyway. People are already tinkering with Debian/Arch/Gentoo/whatever. Not everybody wants the same thing.

All we have to worry about is if the team can produce enough units to get real momentum going.
I'm further interested in the point of voting. At the end of the day what Craig seems to be talking about is attracting a larger market. The user base here to vote is made primarily of the people who don't need a change to find the tool attractive. It would be pretty unconvincing for the users who don't need/like the iOS feel to confirm that there's no need to support an iOS look/feel/experience.

It takes a special kind of denial to miss the attraction the iOS experience has for the general public, or the power that such a large consumer base has given to Apple to get things done. As long as I still get the open tool I have today I support any and every branch that can attract new users/investors. I'd love to see all these fine folks taking a chance creating the Pandora tap into the general market and find themselves so obscenely rich that they can spend all their copious leisure time perfecting our little baby here... ;)
Let's see.... Ipad easy... One repositary with pretty front end for software access - once selected for download pnd auto-magically drops into the PND folder in the root - it installs and drops the icon on the desktop. Use repo protocol (already established) to check for updates to the pnds based on a manual check in settings menu' can select all or specific apps for updating. Mplayer with simple skin for playing multimedia files, no other option available. One browser highly optimized for Pandora, no flash support needed (you don't need that, it's a terrible choice for delivery of content). Settings menu for wifi / bluetooth toggle / config.

Does ios do anything else? Not particularly. Sounds easy to do. Just need a good GUI guy to pretty up the pitiful choices so they look powerful and wonderful.

The issue is more options = more complexity = more knowledge to navigate through the options. I suppose it'd be easy enough to provide both; a good utilization of the limited time and resources available to the OP team? That is more debatable, even if the above were accomplished my belief is listed below.

Frankly anyone that doesn't care about options and openness and only about of ease of use would most likely still purchase Iproducts based solely on the huge coder base, both mainstream and small developers. Will Xcompany write an app for my Iproduct? Typically the answer will be it's already available or yes. The same question for the Pandora would less likely be accurately answered with when someone codes it, or no, it's closed source and the developer won't develop for such a small installed base as the Pandora.


I had NOTHING to do with it.
Pretty up Minimenu if you like. It does look a little retro, and could be expanded to to include more functionality while still being targeted to users who just want a handheld console.

But as Ashens said in his review "this thing is the logical inverse of an iPod touch". Dropping the "full Linux desktop" angle in favor of more of an iOS approach is going to turn off more users then it gains.

Twiitcher got it right... people who want iDevices will settle for nothing less then something with an Apple logo.

But hey, its an open device. Why not whip up a concept? If people like the iPandora idea, then an alternative community-supported firmware is possible. I'm not holding my breath though.
Last edited by a moderator:
AFAIK, MiniMenu is supposed to have that 'Retro' look and that's where the appeal is, imo.

I wouldn't want MM to look like every other Android or iOS based UI.
Last edited by a moderator:
AFAIK, MiniMenu is supposed to have that 'Retro' look and that's where the appeal is, imo.

I wouldn't want MM to look like every other Android or iOS based UI.
Yeah, I get that too. I guess my point is we already have a custom user-friendly interface for people who want more of a iDevice-style 'full LIMITED experience'.

No need to annoy everyone else by removing the beautiful UNLIMITED experience.