Craigix has posted a very highly debated and controversial poll on the gp32x forums asking if a Pandora “Cube”, a headless, non portable version of the Pandora much like an HTPC or games console, would be a worthwhile pursuit.
The topic is controversial because many people who have “invested” their time and money into the Pandora project are concerned to see any evidence that the people behind the much anticipated linux-powered portable are deviating from the task of polishing off the Pandora and getting it production-ready.
I think it would be necessary to pursue some deviation from the core Pandora project in an effort to keep it financially viable and generate as large a return for the time and effort that has gone into the production of the Pandora’s internals as possible.
But the question remains; what, if anything, would such a device be used for? And could it really be as worth-while as previously mentioned cut down but still portable, gaming/PMP orientated editions of the Pandora.
Discussions touch upon the idea of a “smart” Pandora dock, but using a Pandora to dock a Pandora might be slightly overkill. I am, however, all for the idea of a straight-forward dock, and believe that selling such Pandora accessories is a surefire way of keeping the project buoyant.
If I could pick a second Pandora form factor, it would most certainly be along the lines of the Dingoo A320 or GP2X Wiz with the addition of the Pandora’s existing, larger touch-screen but sans the full keyboard. If USB host is retained then such an eminently more PMP/gaming orientated console could easily be repurposed as a portable computer and used for slightly more awkward but still functional on-the-go C64 emulation.
Arguably, in fact, such a product, when combined with a portable keyboard, would facilitate a greater level of productivity. The Pandora’s keyboard, whilst extremely handy and clearly usable, could never quite be on par with a full-sized folding affair.
If a more Portable, keyboard-less Pandora could be made available then it would also be a much better fit for a dock that allows its use as a low-power desktop. Imagine connecting a larger monitor for your primary display and reserving that of the Pandora to function as a MIMO-like secondary display. The retention of the standard, but slightly re-configured Pandora internals, would mean that this hypothetical desktop-ready unit would be blessed with a UPS.
Of course, leaving in the battery and the display means the Pandora “Cube” alternative would still be saddled with some of the more expensive components and may still miss out on a niche that a screen-less, battery-less but HDMI/DVI and USB hub endowed “Cube” might hit.