Why I Can't Wait for the PineNote E-Ink Tablet

More than meets the eye

Key Takeaways

  • Pine64 is currently working on an e-ink tablet called the PineNote.
  • The PineNote will debut for $399, and early adopters will get a magnetic case and an EMR pen to use with it.
  • The PineNote will offer an e-ink reader experience, but Pine64 also wants it to be more than just an e-reader.
Someone drawing on a tablet computer with a coffee cup in the foreground and laptop computer in the background.

Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Pine64’s upcoming e-ink tablet is a little pricey compared to the competition, but so far, it looks like it could be worth every penny.

Earlier this week, Pine64 announced that it was working on an e-ink reader after years of fans asking for one. The PineNote, as it has been aptly named, is set to arrive sometime this year, and Pine64 says it should be one of the most powerful e-ink devices available when it launches. 

Set to retail at $399, the PineNote is a bit more expensive than some of the other e-ink readers that you might find available on the market today. However, something else sets the PineNote apart from Kindle e-ink readers and the like—multi-purpose utilization. 

If Pine64 can deliver on its promise to let you sketch, take notes, type, and read, then the PineNote could be the e-ink device that I didn’t even know I wanted.

Open Book

It’s the promise of multitasking that makes the PineNote so enticing for me. While I love reading, I’ve never seen much of a use for e-readers, as I’d rather have a physical book in my hands.

"...It sounds like Pine64 will rely heavily on developers to help shape the way the PineNote looks and acts when it comes to apps and overall support for third-party software."

However, as more authors push to offer their books in digital format, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the detail side of reading, which is why an e-ink reader that also doubles as a tablet that I can take notes on feels like something I could get behind.

Of course, how deep that multitasking goes is still something that remains to be seen. Based on what was shared in the original announcement, it sounds like Pine64 will rely heavily on developers to help shape the way the PineNote looks and acts when it comes to apps and overall support for third-party software.

This makes sense, as the company is trying to make a device that appeals to more than just those looking for a pricier e-reader. And, without the backing of a larger digital bookstore like Amazon’s Kindle, it’s going to need to stand out a bit more to entice people to come away with that kind of money.

The PineNote looks to offer a solid set of hardware. Not only will it use the RK3566 quad-code A55 system-on-a-chip, but it will also feature 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and a 128GB eMMC flash storage drive.

The PineNote writing tablet and ebook in a case with a pen.

Pine64

The device will include two microphones, two speakers, and a 5GHz AC WiFi antenna. All in all, the specs are solid and should make it a powerhouse in the e-reader world. Of course, hardware isn’t everything, and the software side of things will need to properly take advantage of everything the device offers, too.

Promises

At the moment, all we have is promises. The software for the PineNote doesn’t appear to be in any kind of runnable state just yet, and the developers have already shared that the first batch won’t ship with any of the features I’ve already mentioned.

However, Lukasz Erecinski, the community manager for Pine64, said he wants to see a detachable keyboard made for the device and support for programs like LibreOffice—a popular free Microsoft Office alternative.

We already know that Pine64 is planning a magnetic case and a special pen that can interact with the device’s screen, so the foundation is there for more attachments and software support for drawing apps and the like.

Of course, it will probably take months for the PineNote to get to a state where it’s worth the price tag, especially for everyday consumers looking for a more powerful e-reader. 

Still, the idea of a reader that can act as a notepad or even as a laptop is extremely enticing. Even if the device doesn’t launch at that point, the fact that Pine64 wants to let the community help shape the future of PineNote is admirable and exciting.

For now, I’m looking forward to seeing how Pine64 and the community improve the idea, and I can’t wait to pick one up sometime in the future.

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