Minecraft + Pandora FTW


matzesu

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Hello Everyone, on Notchs Homepage, there is an Review of the Pandora


Notch is the Developer of Minecraft, so meybe whe see a Port of Minecraft to the Pandora soon..

The Pandora Review

Chapter 1. A Brief History


Several years ago, I read somewhere that a group of dedicated nerds were unhappy with currently available handheld gaming devices, and had decided to develop their own. The main focus would be on power and openness, with the device being based on the OMAP3530 from Texas Instruments, and running some version of Linux.


As soon as they started pre-sales of the device, I ordered mine.


Then several years passed by.


Last week, I finally got mine, and it’s mostly awesome! I WAS going to post a review from the actual device itself, but it won’t let me.


Chapter 2. The Hardware


The case is a very nice looking shade of matte black, and is slightly larger than a Nintendo DS. It feels a bit thick when closed, but it feels a lot slimmer when opened up. The screen is designed to be either fully open (almost 180 degrees), or fully closed. It’s possible to have it at a 90-120 degree angle when placed on a table, though.


The underside of the case is mostly taken up by the huge custom built battery, but there’s also a very tight fitting touch screen pen slot with included pen. The top lid is curved with a discrete embossed Pandora logo. You can see the status led lights even when the device is closed.


On the back of the device, there are three ports, two of which I’m not sure what they’re for, but the third one is a full sized USP port. There’s also a hole for plugging in the charger, and the L and R keys. The charger included with the device has a really short cable, causing me to knock it over the first day I had it, breaking the touch screen. The L and R keys are perfectly located, but they’re unfortunately a bit too stiff to use comfortably.


The front panel was the power switch, a headphone port, two SDHC card slots, and a volume wheel. My headphone port seems to be a bit broken as I get very silent sound with it, with occasional loud pops. Not nice. The SDHC slots work great, and so does the volume wheel.


When the device is open, the upper panel is mostly taken up by the large touch screen. It doesn’t have any glossy coating, so it appears a bit dim and washed out. There is noticable ghosting/blurring on the screen when there’s a lot of motion. It’s not as bad as the original PSP, but it’s definitely noticable. To the left and right of the screen are the speakers, which work fine.


The bottom panel is dominated by controls. There are 46 keys, a d-pad, two analogue nubs, and four gaming buttons. The keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard with a shift key for uppercase, and an FN key to input special characters like punctuation, and to reach the F-keys.


The keys feel a bit spongy, like they used to be on old mobile phones, and when writing it’s only really possible to use your thumbs. You have to reach a bit to hit the center keys, but you quickly get used to it. In fact, after a minute or two, I was fully comfortable with they keyboard. When playing games, the spongyness of the keys are a bit annoying, and as mentioned earlier, the L and R keys are a bit too stiff.


The nubs are reeeally sensitive, and can spin around, for some reason. The spinning is a bit of a problem if you push a nub off-center, causing it to rotate instead of move. But you quickly get used to them, and they mostly work fine as long as they’re calibrated (see below).


Built in to the device is a WIFI and Blutooth chip. I haven’t tried the Blutooth yet, but the WIFI isn’t working too great. It might just be a software issue, but I can’t really tell.


Chapter 3. The Software


Installing applications on the device is dead simple, as there’s a standard packaging scheme for the device. Just place the .PND files in a special directory (/pandora/desktop) on a SDHC card, then put the card into the pandora. The OS will automatically detect the card, then put icons for the apps on the desktop. If you take out the card, the icons go away. It works GREAT. There even is an appstore like web page optimized for the pandora screen where you can download new apps. It’s a bit lacking on content at the moment, but it seems to work fine.


To control the mouse, you can either use the touch screen (which I broke the first day.. grr..), or use the nubs, with the left one controlling the pointer, and the right one acting as the mouse buttons. Push it left to left click, and right to right click. Using the nubs works great, as long as they’re calibrated right. I’ve noticed that if I play around with the nubs while the device is booting, they’re almost impossible to use, and sometimes they get uncalibrated on their own.


The device runs a customized version of Ångström linux, with an optional simple front end for quickly launching apps. The OS could use some more tweaks, as there are quite a few popup windows and dialogs that are larger than the Pandora screen (800x480 pixels), making it REALLY hard to click the “ok” button.


In general, everything feels a bit sluggish, especially when starting apps, or when there’s lots of IO. Once programs are running, the speed is fine.


When using WIFI, the os correctly finds nearby access points and asks you for a password when you select the one you need. But I entered the wrong password the first time, and it simply refused to connect, even when I entered the right password. If I set the wlan to open, it still claimed it needed a password and refused to connect. The only way to fix this appeared to be to reboot the Pandora. It now connects fine to wifi, and I’ve done some IRC chatting and surfing, but it frequently loses connection, requiring another reboot to connect again. I tried to write and blog a review of the Pandora from the Pandora itself, but the networking problems prevented this.


The web browser works like you’d expect it, but there are some minor rendering bugs, some of which make it hard to use certain websites. For example, on some page I got white text on white background.


Chapter 4. Games and Emulators


The first thing I tried to play was Quake 2. The display was far too dark, the nubs were too sensitive, and the R key (to shoot) was too stiff to use comfortably. I was disappointed.


Then I installed some emulators, and played around with a C64 and an Atari, and this is really what the Pandora was made for. Having a real keyboard and good gaming controls really made it feel like I had proper hand-held old computers to carry around. Playing 3D Construction Kit on the subway is an amazingly lovely thing! Next up, I’ll add an emulated Amiga, a computer I never had as a child. I might even give AMOS programming a try.


Of course, I also tried playing some emulated SNES games, and it mostly feels quite genuine. The gaming controls are not of Nintendo quality, but they work fine, and the games run at full speed almost all of the time, with occasional random slowdowns that cause me to fall down pits in Super Mario World. Most of the time, the experience is flawless.


There’s a community game made specifically for the Pandora called Pandora Panic. The less said about that, the better.


Chapter 5. Summary and Score


The hardware is almost perfect, but the software is buggy and ugly. I’d love to see a big company do something like the Pandora, as it’d probably be more polished. But seeing as there’s really nothing like the Pandora out there, I’m extremely happy with what I’ve got. It’s great for enthusiasts and medium to advanced computer users, but I don’t believe it’d do to well in the hands of the general public.


Best part: Crazy good battery time ..


Worst part: .. but the battery keeps draining even when turned off?


Score: 4/5

NOTE: This Review was from June last Yeahr, not new, but also good


Source
 
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Coldbird

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Time for some notch-bashing now... Battery drains even when turned off? What the hell, is he nuts? TURN IT OFF PROPERLY MATE - NOT JUST SLEEP IT.
 

Mr_Loon

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Just read this, via the Pandora Facebook group.


Please note that the review was from June last year, looks like Notch got in really early with his pre order. Shame he didn't seek help for some of his issues before writing the review though.


Overall though it's a pretty fair assessment of the Pandora and the final score speaks volumes.
 

Norl

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It's amazing that he still gave it 4/5 with all those issues. There's such a desire by a lot of people for this exact kind of machine. (Like me!)
 

MarioPandio

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I believe the nubs are supposed to spin by design, it removes friction and actually makes them rather nice :) He didn't seem to be bothered by them after a short time (keyboard too) and if he wasn't twiddling them idly during boot up he wouldn't have mis-calibrated them. Same happens with any consoles game controllers if you hold the sticks weird during boot up. With the Wii you can just disconnect the nunchuk but as the Pandora basically is a huge control set with a screen attached, you have to reboot the whole thing.


I like many, have never had to nub dance with two units, they just work, until they perhaps don't with the original ones.


The wifi has been improved several times but in some peoples cases it simply hates their router. Perhaps eventually it will be fully figured out when in enough hands to diagnose the culprits and find fixes.


His review is old (meaning minecraft is unlikely unless he's keeping very quiet), he was beset with unfortunate calamities, accidental user errors and a small dose of FFS RTFM, so I wouldnt be put off by it. However he was positive overall which is good but I disagree about the controls and wanting a big company to make it, as it would be a constant hacking battle to jailbreak such a thing and I thought his Pandorapanic comment was harsh and uncalled for.
 

kc187

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I'm writing this on my Pandora. I found it best to set it on a table and type with your fingers when you write long things.


And before I start, Notch, if you read this these are just honest criticisms. I like your product, I play it frequently. And also: editor for adventure mode so I can make my own "Minecraft adventure!" ahem...


Notch is an interesting, how do I say this, issue? What I mean is that yes, he did create Minecraft, but people seem to cling to what he says like he's some sort of God. No, he's a java programmer who made a great game.


I have also noticed that he's not as savvy about hardware and operating systems as he is programming. That should be obvious just by him pointing out the "two mystery jacks" on the back of the machine. He doesn't know what a mini usb or mini hdmi (this is what I call it, my terminology could be wrong) port are?


Determining whether Minecraft will be on the Pandora takes observing how Minecraft runs on desktop PCs. I run my Minecraft on a dual core 2.5ghz with 4gb ram and a 512 nv 8600gt and I still get slowdowns. Minecraft is a resource HOG. Java itself is a huge hog.


And for the record, I am not a programmer or any such sort. Just a layman in the computer world. Brand new to Linux too. (Pandora guys, your OS runs great, btw!)


I wouldn't be excited about his review. It has an overwhelmingly negative undertone. Also, just by the nature of java's resource usage (HUUUUGE) I don't ever expect a Minecraft port.


Does he know he could probably get the screen replaced, also? Might cost some money but hey. Next time don't kick it over. :)
 

Caine

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He doesn't know what a mini usb or mini hdmi (this is what I call it, my terminology could be wrong) port are?
I think you are referring to the ext port. It isn't hdmi at all. Of all the things it can do the closest thing to hdmi is S-video out.

Determining whether Minecraft will be on the Pandora takes observing how Minecraft runs on desktop PCs.
...


Minecraft is a resource HOG. Java itself is a huge hog.


...


Also, just by the nature of java's resource usage (HUUUUGE) I don't ever expect a Minecraft port.
It won't run on the Pandora. There are several other threads about this already. There is some open source wip of a similar game around that could be ported but it is still in very rough stages.


Yes Minecraft is a resource hog but more so due to it's design and implementation than because of Java. Java is not necessarily a resource hog, though the many crappy Java programs out there might give you that idea.
 

kc187

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He doesn't know what a mini usb or mini hdmi (this is what I call it, my terminology could be wrong) port are?
I think you are referring to the ext port. It isn't hdmi at all. Of all the things it can do the closest thing to hdmi is S-video out.

Determining whether Minecraft will be on the Pandora takes observing how Minecraft runs on desktop PCs.
...


Minecraft is a resource HOG. Java itself is a huge hog.


..


Also, just by the nature of java's resource usage (HUUUUGE) I don't ever expect a Minecraft port.
It won't run on the Pandora. There are several other threads about this already. There is some open source wip of a similar game around that could be ported but it is still in very rough stages.


Yes Minecraft is a resource hog but more so due to it's design and implementation than because of Java. Java is not necessarily a resource hog, though the many crappy Java programs out there might give you that idea.

Yes, the ext or whatever it is. I saw a baby HDMI looking thing that makes video. Hahaha.


As I stated, this isn't my trade.


You may be correct about java as far as badly written programs. I was just putting my opinion out there and as such "if you don't want it scratched don't pull it out of the case."


But without the digression, essentially what I was trying to say was Minecraft will probably never be on the Pandora.
 

matzesu

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I dont think, minecraft can run on the Pandora, it runs slow on my 32bit ubuntu pc whit about 2ghz and 1000mb ram, but something like manic digger should run.., minecraft isnt opensource btw..
 

Caine

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but something like manic digger should run
I think should is too optimistic. Manic digger is built on .net and it doesn't run on mono yet (and thus not on linux either).


It will not be a trivial port. I think Minetest, which I linked in my previous post is a better bet.
 

Caine

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There are rumors going around that Minecraft will be ported in some form to iOS.


If true, said version could be ported to the Pandora as well. Provided that Notch is willing to do so.
 

Xenu

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There are rumors going around that Minecraft will be ported in some form to iOS.


If true, said version could be ported to the Pandora as well. Provided that Notch is willing to do so.
It's official now, and an android version will come out as well. If we can run android we will be able to run minecraft!
 

ToastBucket

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Determining whether Minecraft will be on the Pandora takes observing how Minecraft runs on desktop PCs. I run my Minecraft on a dual core 2.5ghz with 4gb ram and a 512 nv 8600gt and I still get slowdowns. Minecraft is a resource HOG. Java itself is a huge hog.

Really? I run Minecraft on my netbook with no slow downs at all. Albeit it's a relatively powerful netbook, but still less powerful than your computer. 1.5 GHz Dual Core AMD Neo Turion, Radeon HD4225, and 3GB RAM.
 

Keppy

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Determining whether Minecraft will be on the Pandora takes observing how Minecraft runs on desktop PCs. I run my Minecraft on a dual core 2.5ghz with 4gb ram and a 512 nv 8600gt and I still get slowdowns. Minecraft is a resource HOG. Java itself is a huge hog.

Really? I run Minecraft on my netbook with no slow downs at all. Albeit it's a relatively powerful netbook, but still less powerful than your computer. 1.5 GHz Dual Core AMD Neo Turion, Radeon HD4225, and 3GB RAM.

I get some/odd slowdowns on my desktop pc (3GHz dual core, 4GB RAM, Geforce 8800GTS 640MB @ 1080p) depending on what's happening.


I eagerly look forward to Minecraft or something similar on the Pandora.


EDIT: messing about with TNT or fire seems to be the worst culprit for slowdowns for me.
 
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Kieroshark

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You know your famous when people feel the need to post a review of your review. :p


Edit: And I just want to add, that review was how I found out about Pandora, and what caused me to look into actually ordering one. :)
 
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