Pandora's Box

Douglas Heaven | 24 May 2011 08:04
DIY - RSS 2.0

Despite the goodwill, I wondered how a small, inexperienced group of hobbyists coped with the delays and the expectations of so many. "There were multiple times where I feared the project would not succeed," says ED. "I still fear something might go wrong now ... [b]ut it was (and is) also a lot of fun and I learned a lot from it, that's for sure."


The core team grew with the project, gaining a handful of software developers who became integral. "I think if just one member had not been in the team, the whole thing might not have worked out," says ED. "Those guys were helping a lot - not just with developing the awesome firmware, but also personally. Whenever I was down in the dumps, those guys were available on IRC and helped me to continue. If one person gave up, the others helped him to get back on track. And - of course - the community helped in various ways. They trusted us, so we wanted to create them their Pandora, no matter what."

The Pandora's hybrid features betray it as a labor of love, not business acumen. "As we all grew up with an Amiga, we wanted a system that could emulate at least an Amiga 500 full speed. So we'd need a keyboard as well. And a hi-res display. And a touchscreen. This is basically how it started to look like it is." Then they added WiFi and Angstrom Linux. Born of and for a particular community, will the Pandora always be a specialist device? "Yes, that's for sure," says ED. "The market is still big enough though, probably more than we can ever supply. There are a lot of Linux and open-source fans out there. However, you will never see it in bigger retail stores. The stuff that is sold there has to be as easy as a PSP or DS: Plug in a cart and play. The more flexible a system is, the more complicated it usually gets."

Is there a danger of today's smartphones drawing away Pandora's audience? For ED, again it's about the community. "With Android or iPhone, you never get to know the people behind the games. With the Pandora, it's very different. You meet the developers on IRC or at the boards, talk to them. The community helps each other out. One guy codes a proper file repository, the next one an online updater for the Pandora that uses the repo. Same for coders: They help each other out with graphics, sound or code snippets. It's like a big family... and that's something I don't have with a smartphone."

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