The Chronicles Of Pandora #22


lucidchaos

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This is not a review. A review, in most cases, only gives first impressions. I have exited the lurker's lounge and am prepared to be vocal - in this thread. This thread has two purposes:

1. To share my perspective with current Pandora owners as well as potential owners. I will update this thread periodically as events happen.
2. To help people overcome some of the trials of early adoption I am going through.

And for those who read what follows and are wondering if this is right for you: note that the comment that immediately follows my post was made by one of the Pandora's creators. This is one of the reasons I waited as long as I did - the support of this community. While my unit may not be perfect right out of the gate, I know my investment will serve me well as I have a group of people here looking to expand the functionality of the hardware.

Summary:
Wins:
-Paint job and plastics appear fantastic.
-Keys are responsive.
-Nub travel is impressive.
-Screen brightness and touch sensitivity is good. Use in a vehicle under bright sunlight good.

Issues:
-0 key does not function at all.
-D-Pad is squishy and compresses before action is registered.
-Left trigger rotates and does not function when pressing the bottom of the button.
-Left nub has variable speed in certain directions when being used in mouse cursor. Most pronounced is upper-left position, where sometimes movement is barely registered.

Some background information:

I am not a developer, nor am I a Linux user. I can be considered a power-user, as well as someone who values the concept of making hardware do things it was not created to do. I am also a fan of emulation of old systems, both for nostalgia and for discovering great games I overlooked in the
past.

Yesterday I received my Pandora. Or rather, I picked it up 130 miles from my house. Apparently my shipping address never was changed as requested. The nice former landlords left me a voicemail stating that normally they would return to sender, but the package came from the UK. As I was in the area visiting family, this worked fine for me.

My first thought when unboxing the Pandora: Black. They did a fantastic job with the matte finish and paint job. Unopened, the unit looks absolutely stunning and what I would expect from a larger company. I opened the hinge. The hinge felt much weaker than I would have expected. It
held in place just fine, although I would like about twice the resistance. I expected this after watching some of the video reviews.

I opened the unit. After looking at renders for over a year, then pictures for a while, actually seeing the inside in person is epic. Sizewise it is as I expected. The rubbery keys stood out, as did the nubs. Upon first trying out the nubs, they seemed to have much more travel and a
better feel than what I expected. My case looks to be manually fixed by the use of a dremel or similar tool around the nub holes. This does not bother me at all, as with a practically hand-crafted gadget like this made in such small batches, this just shows some of the hard work that goes into making every one.

I knew of some of the issues early first batchers were having with the left and right triggers early on. The next thing I did was test these. Left trigger felt ... acceptable, but not ideal. Depending where my finger is on the trigger button, I get anything from a "solid" response to a "I
heard the switch, but my finger didn't feel it" response. The right trigger is a completely different story. If I press on the bottom, it will not trigger. The button just seems to rotate rather than press the button. I am sure this is because of some of the manual work done because
of the paint. When pressing in the center, it triggers, but does not feel as tactile as the left trigger. I feel this issue must be fixed on my unit. I have not yet emailed the OpenPandora team on this yet, but will shortly after getting feedback on this post.

After evaluating the triggers, I tried the d-pad and buttons before first boot. The buttons and d-pad felt a bit squishy for my liking. The d-pad was similar to the buttons, but worse. When I gradually pressed a direction, rather than having the d-pad 'snap' into place, I heard a squishy
sound of rubber compressing.

After this I popped the battery cover off to see what my serial number was. I received my order confirmation email on Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 10:19 AM Eastern time. My serial number is 090001000022. I assume this means this is the 22nd Pandora produced. This fact excited me. :)

I powered the unit on for the first time. I've been through XFCE's installation process before, and knew what to expect during the installation process. This did not take long at all. I was greeted by the desktop environment after choosing the XFCE option and knew at that moment that I was holding something completely new and unique. At this time I shut it down because of other obligations.

Later that day I picked up a cheap 8gb class 2 SD card to hold me over and fired it up for the
second time. This is also the time that the trials of first adoption started.

The first thing I did was connected it over WIFI to a wireless network. This went without a hitch. I still need to know a good way to test bandwidth - speedtest.net is registering 20Mbps - a full 4x faster than my advertised internet bandwidth. However, files download ridiculously slowly onto the SD card. I am under the impression the pandora's storage is very limited and I should not store anything on it. I will update this when I switch to my class 4 16gb in my wife's camera.

When setting up the time I realized my 0 key does not work. I am wondering if this is software or hardware. It does not seem to work when I use FN or shift either. It seems completely dead.

After using the nubs for a while, which due to the travel control the mouse cursor fairly well, I realized sometimes the direction I press does not go as fast as other directions. This seems to be an intermittant problem - after a fresh boot the cursor travels very fast, all directions tame down a bit after using it a while, but sometimes one direction, be it up, left, or upper left, do not work properly. This happens no matter how my finger is positioned on the nub.

Without access to another computer, I had trouble testing the audio. Youtube would not work - the Pandora+Midori combo has a flash alternative loaded, but it doesn't seem to work for me for most flash content. My mp3 file download trials did not complete. Midori's download manager seems a bit flawed in that you can not accurately track progress - there is a progress bar that starts, eventually, but it does not tell you the file size, percentage, or any other metric.

Getting any other kind of software was a challenge as well. I first tried the pandora app store. Top apps and recent apps pages were not implemented yet. The search page worked well. I first searched for "NES" and was greeted by two NES emulator ports. I downloaded GPFCE. It is apparent this is a rough port, but it works. The sound did not work at all for the only game I have tried thus far, Mega Man 2. Playing this game made me realize my unit does not have good controls.

For the buttons, when slowly pressing them down, I do not feel a definitive 'click'. I have no problem knowing when they will work and when they will not work, however. I just have to press a little harder than what I would expect to.

The d-pad is similar to the buttons, but worse. When gradually pressing a direction, rather than having the d-pad 'snap' into place, I hear a squishy sound of rubber compressing. I can feel the d-pad compressing fully and yet the action does not register - I have to apply extra pressure to get a result. This is the most apparent when using the right direction.

Now remember good people, I will be documenting my progress with the pandora as I learn how to use it. So far I have successfully downloaded an mp3 (it sounds decent, about the same as a Motorola Droid) and changed the desktop background to something more of my liking. I will soon be switching out the memory card to the 16gb class 4. Eventually I will need to send it back to have this right button and dpad issue taken care of. I don't believe the nubs are a hardware problem at this time, although your feedback could convince me otherwise. (the movement issue seems to be affecting both the left and right nubs).

Your feedback will also assist me and many others in correcting our flaws without disturbing the OP team. They are busy enough getting the rest of the 4k out to you all.

Thanks - Dan
 

EvilDragon

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DPad-Problems only occured on the first few units, so I guess you got one there...
It should become better after playing for a while though. If not, contact your shop, we can sure fix it for you :)
 

Wrath Of Khan

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@lucidchaos

If you check the thread "the one nub club"there is info on calibrating the nubs.Hold them at centre position at power up.Then move them in circular motions or up,back to middle,down,back to middle and so on.
 

lucidchaos

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I have attempted manual calibration of the nubs without success. I understand moving the nub around for calibration. Even after doing this for several times, there are times the nub 'resists' moving in a certain direction.

-Note - this is appearing less frequently as time goes on. Whether this is a change in the nub behavior or the change of my usage habits is up for grabs. I will keep you all posted.
 

Wrath Of Khan

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lucidchaos said:
I have attempted manual calibration of the nubs without success. I understand moving the nub around for calibration. Even after doing this for several times, there are times the nub 'resists' moving in a certain direction.

-Note - this is appearing less frequently as time goes on. Whether this is a change in the nub behavior or the change of my usage habits is up for grabs. I will keep you all posted.
The one nub pandoras seem to have some grit or filings beneath the nubs.A can of pressurised air sprayed in under the nub seems to make them better.
 
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Jumpman

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My left nub was funny when I first used it, but after a day of use, it now performs like perfect. No problems with eeither at this point.

Chris
 

lucidchaos

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EvilDragon said:
DPad-Problems only occured on the first few units, so I guess you got one there...
It should become better after playing for a while though. If not, contact your shop, we can sure fix it for you :)

(original post edited)

Thanks, ED. I intend to use it a bit more before sending it to GBAX for warranty repair. I would prefer any bugs, gremlins, and womp rats show up before sending back to the UK for warranty.
 
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My left nub was acting like yours, and then after a week of use it completely broke (I'll be returning it next week).
 

hedwards

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lucidchaos said:
I have attempted manual calibration of the nubs without success. I understand moving the nub around for calibration. Even after doing this for several times, there are times the nub 'resists' moving in a certain direction.

-Note - this is appearing less frequently as time goes on. Whether this is a change in the nub behavior or the change of my usage habits is up for grabs. I will keep you all posted.
Be careful calibrating. You might very well wear you're nub down to a nub. :eek:


Thanks for the balanced info. I'll use it as some degree of solace as I wait for the approximately 6 million Pandorae to be manufactured and sent via mustachioed kangaroo to me.
 
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lucidchaos

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OK, I have studied the available information and can not find out how to connect to an SMB share. I have done this before with my Wii through Linux and I do not understand why this will not work:

I am using gigolo and attempting to mount to my share:

1tb WD
U/N guest
P/W guest

This works fine on my Wii. Why not on my Pandora?

BTW, I am not familiar with the need to fill out the domain field. My network on the PC is set to MSHOME.

Thanks.
 

TrashyMG

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lucidchaos said:
OK, I have studied the available information and can not find out how to connect to an SMB share. I have done this before with my Wii through Linux and I do not understand why this will not work:

I am using gigolo and attempting to mount to my share:

1tb WD
U/N guest
P/W guest

This works fine on my Wii. Why not on my Pandora?

BTW, I am not familiar with the need to fill out the domain field. My network on the PC is set to MSHOME.

Thanks.

I've never used Gigilo, but this is generally what I do for Linux... I found that HOSTNAME usually in most cases for me needs to be the IP address of the system you want to mount to.. It may just be a quirk of my network. I have better luck with leaving the password blank when using guest..

mount -t cifs -o username=guest,password= //HOSTNAME/SHARENAME /MOUNTDIRECTORYONPANDORA
 
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lucidchaos

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That worked perfectly. Thanks, TrashyMG.

Edit: Question deleted. I'll search more before asking and ask questions in the newbie thread before sharing results on the main post.
 
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