The Pocket PC (aka Popcorn Computer) is an Allwinner A64 based Linux handheld computer with 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a 4.95 inch Full HD display and a QWERTY keyboard which was introduced in 2019, and reminds me of PocketCHIP from a few years ago also with an Allwinner processor, display, keyboard and battery.

The original plan was to start shipping the device by May 2020, and there have been delays for reasons which we’ll explain below, but the good news is that Source Parts just announced that the units of development had been shipped.

So what exactly happened, other than the COVID-19 pandemic, government lockdowns and supply chain disruptions? Source Parts first encountered quality problems with the PCBs delivered by the manufacturer, which forced them to change manufacturers.

Getting the display to work was also a challenge, and Icenowy, a developer involved in the linux-sunxi community, found an overflow bug in the kernel driver for the Allwinner DSI interface, and it now works fine as we can. see in the photo above.

But what really caught my intention was that the company decided to switch from the U-blox CAM-M8Q GPS / GNSS module to a SIMCom SIM33ELA GPS / GNSS module for future production runs. Why can you ask? It’s a supply issue, but not the one you might have thought about at the start. According to Source Parts, this is because the U-blox CAM-M8Q has been banned from importing into China.

I don’t know if it’s because of the US sanctions (I would have been an “export ban” in this case), or if it’s somehow related to a recent court case in China, but in all the cases, the result is that U- The price of the CAM-M8Q blox, again according to Source Parts, has gone from $ 15 to over $ 80, and they might not be available in China anytime soon.

[Update: U-blox denies both the China import ban and the increase in price:

The CAM-M8Q is not subject to any such ban and continues to be imported by China, and as can be seen in the u-blox webshop, the CAM-M8C (featuring a XTAL oscillator) is being sold in single quantities for just over 22 EUR ($25.72 at today’s exchange rate).

Peter Fairhurst, Senior Director Product Strategy, Positioning, at u-blox states that “the CAM-M8Q is not subject to any import or export restrictions that would affect customers in China, and continues to be sold through our distribution partners and the u-blox webshop – dependent on supplier and quantity. We pride ourselves on our excellent relationships with our customers, globally, and strive to ensure the quality of solutions and service that all our customers receive from u-blox excels at every juncture.”]

SIMCom SIM33ELA was selected because it is pin-to-pin compatible, the main disadvantage being that it does not support the Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system. There seem to be plenty of business opportunities with pin-to-pin compatible hardware these days, from USB chips to TLL chips to system-on-module due to supply issues.

Let’s go back to the Pocket PC itself. Source Part says they are finalizing the software and have “worked around the clock” to get it into the customer’s hands, but have not provided any ETA.


Linux Pocket PC handheld experiences price hike


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